The right jockey for the job

by guest article writer Todd Burmester

The importance of having a good jockey riding your selection has been highlighted to me time and time again over the last 12 months. Some time ago, I was virtually of the opinion that it was all about the horse and it didn’t matter that much who was steering it. Now, I still think it’s fair to say that the jockey can’t make a slow conveyance a fast one, but they certainly can put the right horses in the most competitive positions to win the race.

It’s become apparent to me that the main characteristics of a champion jockey appear to be, quick decision making, ability to judge pace, and balance. The decision making factor is often important as soon as they jump out of the gate. There is no point not quickly deciding where you are going to position your mount and then ending up in the cheap seats. The ability to judge the pace largely determines whether to go forward or back, and also when to make your run for home. And balance, is ever so important in a close finish. One of the best jockeys I have seen in my time is Darren Beadman, and gee that man has balance! I want to have him on board in a close finish.

There are some jockeys that seem to have a good reputation, but to my way of thinking aren’t a great betting proposition. One of these is Kerrin McEvoy. To think that McEvoy has the top job for the Snowden stable somewhat surprises me. I’ve seen a number of races where in my opinion I would have to question the judgement used in order to be in the most likely winning position, and he’s then found himself in trouble looking for a clear run in the straight and ultimately lost the race. Now, let’s be clear, I couldn’t do a better job, but hey, it’s not my job, and it is his!

I decided to test out my opinion of what I thought I was observing in relation to McEvoy and look up some of his statistics. Over the last 5 seasons, McEvoy has a winning strike rate of just over 15%. From a betting point of view, using the last two seasons, had you invested at level stakes on all his rides, you would have lost 19% in the 10/11 season, and a whopping 31% in the 09/10 season.

Compare this to Beadman for example, who, prior to his move to Hong Kong was the number 1 rider for John Hawkes before Peter Snowden took over, and Beadman was hitting strike rates in the low to mid 20’s. That’s a far cry from the 15% McEvoy is managing. Staggeringly, in the 02/03 season, and in the 05/06 season, a level stakes bet on all of Beadmans rides would have produced an overall profit. Not many jockeys can achieve that in a season. Nash Rawiller is the only other one I know off the top of my head that has done it recently.

Next time you make a selection, put some thought into who is doing the steering, and you might well be doing yourself a big favour.