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10 Greatest Jockeys of All Time

Measuring the success of jockeys can be very challenging and subjective. With all the various types of horse racing across the globe, we have managed to choose the 10 Greatest Jockeys of all time.

To make it easier, we have broken it down to the top 5 flat racing jockeys and the top 5 jump jockeys. Without further ado, here is the chosen 10 –

Here we look at the TOP 5 Greatest Flat Race Jockeys – 

Lester Piggott – 

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Born in 1935 and with over 4,400 wins to his name, it is hard to argue that Lester Piggott should not be in our list.  He was quite tall for a jockey standing at 5ft 8in. He has many accolades to his name including 30 British Classic races, the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, and the Irish Derby twice.  Piggott took home the title of British Flat Racing Champion Jockey a whopping 11 times.

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Laffit Pincay Jr. –

Laffit has a remarkable 9,530 race wins and over $237 million in winnings to his name.  He raced over five decades’ worth and when he retired he was the only jockey to win as many races as he did. One of his most famous wins was on Swale at the Kentucky Derby in 1984 and then the 1986 Breeders Cup Classic and not to mentions being awarded “Outstanding jockey” on five occasions.

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Bill Shoemaker –

Regarded as the greatest horse rider ever, and certainly, the greatest ever to ride in North America that’s for sure. Bill accumulated 8,883 race wins during his 41-year career-long journey. It has been estimated that he won a massive $123 million as a jockey and a further $3.7 million as a trainer. Sadly, Shoemaker passed away in 2003.

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Eddie Arcaro –

Eddie Arcaro was born in 1916 and earned over $30 million during his career. In today’s money that would be substantially more. In addition to his historic Triple Crown wins, Arcaro was one of the winningest jockeys of the 1940s and 1950s. Eddie passed away in November 1997.

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Pat Day –

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Pat “I’ll wait all” Day derived his nickname from frustrating punters for his tendency to ride conservatively and push to the wire too late.  Day won nine Triple Crown races and 12 Breeders’ Cup races throughout his career and retired in 2005 with 8,303 wins.  Day has earned over $297 million in career winnings.

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Other flat racing greats

American Mike Smith has won the Kentucky Derby twice, the Preakness Stakes twice and the Belmont Stakes three times. In 2018, he won the much-coveted Triple Crown riding Justify and became the oldest jockey to win it.

Puerto Rico-born John Velazquez is the highest-earning jockey of all time, earning $415 million and counting. He has over 6,000 wins and counting in his career so far.  The four-time Kentucky Derby and two-time Belmont Stakes winner is now 50 so probably close to retirement.

Frankie Dettori also deserves a mention here, the Italian jockey has won the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe a record six times and has over 3,000 career wins to date.

Next we look at the TOP 5 Greatest National Hunt Jockeys – 

Ruby Walsh –

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The Cheltenham boy, Ruby Walsh is regarded as one the greatest jockeys of all time amongst fans in the UK and Ireland. He has continued to dominate on the biggest stage year in and year out. His cool and composed riding style enables him to produce his best whenever he needs it. His 2,500 race wins and millions in career winnings does not do the jockeys justice as to how good he really is on the saddle.

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Richard Johnson –

Richard Johnson is now a two-time Champions jockey but for the vast majority of his career, he had to play second fiddle to the legendary McCoy and be runner-up on 16 occasions. He is now proving his talent and capabilities to the rest of the world and let’s hope he has many racing days ahead of him.

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Paul Carberry –

Paul Carberry is now a retired jockey who entered the racing ranks from a successful racing family. For over 26 years and 1500 wins, Paul proved he was the real deal. In 1999, he claimed his first and only victory in the most prestigious horse race of all, the Grand National.

John Francome –

Sitting behind Tony McCoy and Peter Scudamore with 7 British Champion Jump Jockey titles, Francome is without a doubt one the greatest riders not to win a Grand National.  Moving on from racing days, he is now a very well-known and successful racing pundit. In 2004, he was awarded the RTS Best Sports Pundit.

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AP McCoy –

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The now-retired AP McCoy OBE is regarded by nearly all racing purists as one of the greatest jockeys of all time. AP ended was named Champion Jockey for 20 consecutive times as a professional.  In 2010, AP was awarded BBC Sports Personality of the year and became the first and only jockey to ever do so.

McCoy won 4,348 jump races and 10 flat races. He holds the record for the most jump wins by any jockey ever

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Other great National Hunt Jockeys

Irishman Barry Geraghty won a total of 1,920 winners leaving him fourth in the table for most successful British and Irish jump jockey.  He retired in July 2020.

Charlie Swan riding Istabraq at Cheltenham became a legend, the pair won an amazing 23 times together, including a hat-trick of Champion Hurdle victories.  Swan still holds the record for the most amount of wins in a season, racking up 147 wins in 1995/96.

Both Richard Johnson and Peter Scudamore had incredible riding careers and would have been even more successful had AP McCoy not dominated so strongly.

 

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