Flat Jockey Championship Betting

All professional jockeys in Great Britain are members of the Professional Jockeys Association (PJA), which ranks riders according to their achievements each year and presents annual British Jockey Championship titles to the best of the best. Jockeys compete during a set period, which defines the Flat, Jump and All Weather Horseracing Seasons, and the jockey or jockeys who have numerically ridden the most winners are the crowned as the champions.

The Flat Jockeys Championship includes winners ridden in both Flat and All Weather races that take place between late March and the last race in November at the Doncaster turf meeting. Throughout the season, jockeys are compared not only on the basis of most wins, but also according to their Strike Rate (the ratio of wins to races), their Win Prize (cash awards for first place finishes), and their Total Prize (cash awards for all wins). However, it is only the total number of first place finishes that determines the Champion Flat Jockey of the Year.

Before 2008, the PJA was known as the Jockeys Association of Great Britain Ltd (JAGB), formed in 1969. It was preceded by three small organisations: the Southern National Hunt Jockeys Committee, the Northern National Hunt Jockeys Committee, and the Flat Race Jockeys Association. Even earlier than that, informed meetings of jockeys took place and the Champion Jockey of British Flat Racing has been named every year since 1840.

The early years of the championship were dominated by Suffolk-born Elnathan “Nat” Flatman (1810~1860). He was not only the very first unofficial top jockey with 50 wins in 1840, but also the first officially recognised jockeys’ champion in 1846 with 81 winners. So complete was Flatman’s ownership of the tracks that he was the only champion named for 13 consecutive years.

Since then, many famous riders have put together astonishing strings of flat racing championships, including George Fordham with nine titles from 1855 to 1863 and then four more titles in the next six years plus a tie for first in 1871. Counted among other great titleholders are Fred Archer with 13 championships between 1874 and 1886, Steven Donoghue with nine titles and a tie from 1913 to 1923, and the incomparable Sir Gordon Richards, who is considered by many to have been the world’s greatest jockey of all time.

Between Richards’ first championship in 1929 with 135 wins and his last title in 1953 with 191 victories, he was Britain’s top jockey every year but three (1926, 1930, and 1941). In 1933, he rode an astonishing 259 winners—a record he went on to eclipse in 1947 with 269 triumphs. By comparison, eleven-time champion Lester Piggott, who collected his titles between 1960 and 1982, had his best year in 1966 with 191 victories.

Since the formation of the JAGB, one name stands out among British jockeys— Patrick James John “Pat” Eddery. Born in Ireland in 1952, Eddery began his flat racing career in 1967 and rode an incredible 4,632 winners, which ranks second only to Sir Gordon’s 4,870. The Irish rider gained his first Flat Jockeys Championship in 1974 and his last in 1996 for a total of eleven titles against such stiff competition as fellow champions Willie Carson, Steve Cauthen, and Frankie Dettori as well as Piggott. Most recently, Kieren Fallon chalked up six titles between 1997 and 2003, while Ryan Moore was the top jockey of 2006, 2008, and 2009.

Wagering on the Flat Jockeys Championship is largely a single market opportunity, with ante post betting on the next outright winner beginning as soon as the current year’s champion is known. Odds change from week to week as jockeys pile up victories. By mid-summer, a handful of names have begun to pull away from the field, and by autumn, only one or two frontrunners remain. Betting exchanges such as betfair tend to offer the longest odds.

Going into the 2011 season, the 2010 winner, Paul Hanagan, was priced between 7/4 and 2/1. Joining him at the top of the pack were two perennial favourites—Ryan Moore at even money and Kieren Fallon, pulling anywhere from 5/1 to 17/2. Those willing to place a nostalgia wager could pick Frankie Dettori at 66/1 or look for comebacks from 2007 co-champions Seb Sanders and Jamie Spencer, priced at between 40/1 and 100/1.

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