Horse racing is a sport where the best equines need to work in unison with talented riders in order to get victories in the biggest races. While the work done in races is largely down to the horses themselves, the jockey must always take their adulation for their role in the success.
The best jockeys are often the difference in the biggest races on the calendar, as their tactical know-how can position the horse in the best possible position to win the race. You can find here the most popular races: edge.twinspires.com/racing/major-horse-races/
But, who are five of the most successful jockeys in the history of the sport?
There is little doubt who the most successful jockey in the history of horse racing is, as Bill Shoemaker stands head and shoulders above the majority. The American jockey registered nearly 9,000 winners throughout his career, and won over 123,375,524 in prize money. Shoemaker won eleven Triple Crown races, but never got a clean sweep throughout a single season.
His strike-rate on track showcased his dominance, as he won 21% of the races in which he was involved, meaning that he would get a winner once in every five rides. After retiring from the saddle, Shoemaker enjoyed great success as a trainer, as he won over $3.7 million in prize money.
There are few more successful jockeys in Britain and Ireland than Lester Piggott, such was his love and respect within the sport that the Epsom Derby was named in his honor following his death in 2022, just days before the running of the race in which he dominated throughout his career.
Piggott was named British Flat Jockey Champion Jockey on eleven occasions throughout his career and was inducted into the British Champions Series Hall of Fame in 2021. The world-renowned jockey was the rider for a big race, landing 30 Classic victories throughout his career, including nine wins in the Derby.
Horse racing in the modern day wouldn’t be as popular as it is without the charismatic Frankie Dettori. The superstar has transcended the sport throughout his career, landing wins in over 3,000 races. Dettori has also won over 250 Group 1s throughout his career, amassing prize money of well over $150 million.
His 20-year career will come to an end at the conclusion of the 2023 season, but no jockey has rode more winners in the world’s most prestigious flat race, the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, than the Italian maestro. Dettori has partnered with some of the world’s best horses throughout his career, including Enable, Golden Horn, and Stradivarius just to name a few.
Steve Cauthen deserves his place among the best jockeys to have ever ridden a winner. The American is the only jockey to have ever be named the Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year, and he became the first to ever exceed the $6 million barrier in earnings.
Cauthen made history in 1978, as he became the youngest jockey to win the U.S. Triple Crown, but he would make further history after deciding to move to Europe. Cauthen would land the first of two Epsom Derby successes in 1985, becoming the first jockey in history to win both the Kentucky Derby and Epsom Derby.
Jumps racing remains the most popular across the United Kingdom and Ireland, and throughout the 90s and 2000s, there was only one star to side within the big races. Ruby Walsh won over 213 Grade 1 races throughout his career and was named top jockey at the prestigious Cheltenham Festival on eleven occasions.
Walsh was named the Irish Champion Jockey on 12 occasions during his career, and won the Grand National on two occasions, with the first of those coming in 2000 on Papillon, trained by his father Ted Walsh.