7 Surprising Facts You Never Knew About Horse Jockeys

As we all know, jockeys do a lot more than simply sitting on racehorses to help them meet weight requirements! The primary job of a jockey is to ride horses in the best way possible for securing a position, but that’s not all. They must also take the necessary precautions to make sure that his/her horse doesn’t end up getting seriously injured in the process.

An injured horse can seldom win the race they are in at that that time, not to mention the long-term damage that injury may cause. Since champion racehorses are high value assets, a jockey’s association with prior horse injuries can ruin their career. However, these are all facts that we can easily relate to jockeys, but we are about to share seven facts about the pros which might just surprise you.

The 7’ 7” Jockey!

Jockeys are supposed to be small and short and there is no two ways about it. On an average, a jockey weighs roughly 113–115lbs, while standing at a height of 5’ 2”. There have been tall professional jockeys of course, such as Donnacha O’Brien (6ft) from Ireland and Australia’s own Stuart Brown (6’ 3”). However, when former NBA player and philanthropist Manute Bol decided to ride at a charity event, it instantly turned into a world record! Although he did ride as a jockey for that one charity race only, it was a regulated event, and he became the tallest jockey ever.

Jump Jockeys are Heavier

You may think that in races where horses must jump over tall and wide fences, the jockeys would weigh less. That is not how it is at all though, because flat jockeys need to be much lighter than jump jockeys. Now, the rules are a bit complicated, but we have the simplified version listed next for your convenience. It should help you understand the different requirements better.

  • Racehorses running on a flat track must not carry more than 10st (63.5kg), which includes the weight of the jockey + saddle + tack.
  • On the other hand, 10st (63.5kg) is the minimum weight requirement for National Hunt jump races.

Then of course, there are handicaps to consider. These are added lead weights assigned to each horse in a race, depending on their previous records. Before betting on any horse at a major event, do a bit of research on how well each horse has performed with adjusted handicap weights in the past. With the Cheltenham Festival coming up, placing bets with Bet365 Specials should be particularly profitable, provided that you do a bit of research on the competing horses and their riders first.

Jockeys are Allowed to (Lightly) Whip the Horses

Jockeys whip horses like they always have, but unlike in the old days, there are very strict rules in place now. Take for example, the fact that all whips must be foam padded and air cushioned to prevent harming the animal. Most flat and jump races have a 7-lash and 8-lash limit per race respectively and breaking those rules can have serious repercussions on the jockey’s career.

No Betting for Jockeys

Not that jockeys can’t use others to do their betting, but they would be suspended or even banned permanently if they were found to be betting on horse races. This holds true in the UK, Australia (2-years minimum), the US, Canada, and most European nations. Once they retire though, those limitations are no longer valid. This is done to preserve the sport’s integrity.

Female Jockeys Have Amazing Potential

Women are biologically shorter and lighter than men on an average, which means that they can be amazing jockeys. Michelle Payne made history in 2015 by winning the Melbourne Cup that year and she is a bright example of the potential that women have for excelling as professional jockeys.

Latin American Jockeys Earn More than US Jockeys

As compared to US jockeys, Latin American jockeys earn several times more. No other country can compare to Japan when it comes to rich jockeys, but John R. Velazquez from Puerto Rico (5th Richest) and Javier Castellano from Venezuela (8th richest) are not doing too bad either it seems:

  • John R. Velazquez from Puerto Rico: US$430,65 million (approx.) earned from 6,258 wins
  • Javier Castellano from Venezuela: US$354.79 million (approx.) earned from 5,328 wins

Now, we see the first US jockey Mike E. Smith appearing at the 11th spot with a career total of US$333.5 million (approx.) from 5,607 wins. However, the famous Venezuelan jockey Javier Castellano is at the 8th spot on this rich list with a career total of US$354.79 million from 5,328 wins. Therefore, he has earned significantly more than Smith, while winning less races than him.

Japanese Jockeys Earn Astoundingly Well

Jockeys earn exceptionally well in Japan and just one look at the richest jockey list will confirm that fact beyond doubt. For example, the following are the world’s three richest jockeys, based on their career earnings:

  1. Yutaka Take from Japan: 4,249 wins and a total career earning that amounts to US$796.1 million.
  2. Norihiro Yokoyama from Japan: 2,840 wins and a total career earning that amounts to US$560.64 million (approx.)
  3. Masayoshi Ebina from Japan: 2,538 wins and a total career earning that amounts to US$479.42 million (approx.).

To truly understand how much more Japanese jockeys get paid in percentage per race, we need to look at how many races they have competed in. For example, Velazquez has earned about US$430,65 million from winning 6,258 races, but Yuichi Fukunaga earned more than that (US$479,41 million) from winning just 2,410 races. The strangest part is that most of us have never even heard about the richest Japanese jockeys!




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