Sam Twiston-Davies unseated from Politologue

A Nasty ST-D? Sticky and Not-So-Sticky Jockeys

A Nasty ST-D?

By Ricky Taylor

At the moment I am doing a lot of research into jockeys and looking to uncover new ways of assessing their relative abilities that go beyond the usual statistics on rides, winners and winning strike rate. The recent tribulations of poor Sam Twiston-Davies got me thinking about jump jockeys and whether or not you could find good statistics on the number of times that a jockey gets unseated. After all, in jump racing the ability of the jockey to actually stay on the horse over a jump is an important factor!

For those who are not familiar with the recent story, Sam Twiston-Davies got unseated twice in a couple of days in mid-December. This wouldn’t have been that remarkable but he got unseated on the flat rather than because the horse had made a mistake at a fence or hurdle. First he parted company with Politologue approaching the last in a hurdle race at Cheltenham, and then he hit the deck again when he fell off Hawkhurst on the run-in at Southwell a couple of days later when he had the race in the bag. He has since vowed to change his riding style and to his credit he apologised to losing punters for his error, although to be fair to him the horse didn’t help him at Southwell by jinking. These unfortunate incidents were all put down to technical issues with Sam’s riding style. I think this might be a bit harsh as the lad has ridden nearly 600 winners and had plenty of big race winners. However, it reminded me of my limited riding experience and how difficult it is to stay on a horse at a trot let alone at full blooded racing pace, jumping fences and hurdles! This got me thinking about whether there are any statistics on the number and proportion of rides where a jockey is unseated.

To my surprise I couldn’t find any stats on the subject of unseated rides from the usual sources such as the Racing Post website. There was plenty of data about wins and rides over hurdles and fences, prize money won and the number of place finishes, and even minimum riding weight over the last twelve months, but nothing on how good a jockey was at actually staying on his mount. Of course this is a good thing for those prepared to bother with compiling their own statistics because it is a little bit of information that isn’t readily available to other punters and layers and therefore might not be reflected in the horses’ odds, giving a bit of value to those with the extra bit of data.

Unseat vs Fall

The first thing to note is the definition of an ‘unseat’ and how it differs from a fall in the formbook. Professional race readers, who compile the official form book, determine whether a horse has fallen or if the jockey fell off.  A fall is basically where the jockey had no chance of staying on board because the horse physically hit the deck. An unseat is when the horse might have made a mistake jumping a fence but remained on its feet but the jockey was unable to remain in the saddle. In practice there is quite a wide range of unseats. There are plenty of occasions when the horse has made such an error that its head has hit the deck, and its backside has shot up into the air that no jockey, unless super glued to the saddle, is going to be able to keep the partnership intact. However, there are also plenty of occasions when you think that a jockey simply fell off when another jockey might have been able to stay in the saddle. The Sam Twiston-Davies incidents are rarer. I can’t think of too many incidents when a jockey has fallen off on the flat, although it does happen and is incredibly frustrating for punters when it does.

I’ve analysed the results of all jump races run in Great Britain and Ireland since 2013 to November 2015. For reasons of space, and to cut out the noise from small numbers, I restricted the results to jockeys that had more than 200 hundred rides over the period. I haven’t distinguished between hurdle and chase races to keep the sample as large as possible. The results are set out in the Table below. They make for interesting reading. The first thing to note is the all jockey average. The overall unseat rate of all jump jockeys is around 1.7 per cent or 1.7 unseats in every 100 rides (rank 70 in the Table). This provides the context and you ideally don’t want to see a jockey getting unseats higher than this average.

Sense Check

The next thing to do is to do a sense check on the results. Basically where do Ruby Walsh and Tony McCoy feature on the Table? These are the two acknowledged expert riders over the period. McCoy records an unseat rate, over a huge number of rides, of just 0.75 per cent. That is well below the average and ranks him towards the bottom of the Table. Walsh is also well below the average with an unseat rate of just 0.9 per cent. The current top jockey Richard Johnson also has an unseat rate that isn’t much higher than the rate for Walsh.

 

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Jockey Unseated rate (%)  Number of rides Rank
Conor Shoemark 8.56%                              631 1
Sean Bowen 8.19%                              513 2
Andrew Tinkler 7.28%                              742 3
Samantha Drake 6.88%                              218 4
Mark Enright 6.00%                              900 5
Stephen Mulqueen 4.68%                              342 6
David Splaine 3.80%                              526 7
Jonathan Moore 3.44%                              262 8
Aidan Coleman 3.38%                           2,071 9
Kevin Jones 3.29%                              243 10
Barry Keniry 3.21%                              249 11
Lucy Alexander 3.19%                              564 12
Tom Messenger 3.13%                              256 13
Mark Quinlan 3.08%                              454 14
Ryan Hatch 3.03%                              462 15
Robert Jones 2.83%                              212 16
Joe Colliver 2.70%                              333 17
Ger Fox 2.69%                              557 18
Luke Dempsey 2.67%                              486 19
Adam O'Neill 2.66%                              263 20
Ben Dalton 2.65%                              528 21
Charlie Poste 2.63%                              571 22
James Banks 2.60%                              730 23
Mr John Dawson 2.60%                              231 24
Robert Dunne 2.57%                              623 25
Micheal Nolan 2.55%                              510 26
Lee Edwards 2.54%                              394 27
Tom Bellamy 2.52%                              357 28
Rachael Blackmore 2.50%                              200 29
Grant Cockburn 2.46%                              244 30
Alan Crowe 2.44%                              616 31
Paddy Kennedy 2.43%                              412 32
Alan Johns 2.34%                              214 33
Tommy Phelan 2.34%                              214 34
Brian Cawley 2.33%                              215 35
Liam Heard 2.33%                              258 36
Alain Cawley 2.30%                              392 37
Graham Watters 2.29%                              436 38
Shane Crimin 2.29%                              262 39
Dominic Elsworth 2.25%                              222 40
Joshua Moore 2.24%                              490 41
Tony Kelly 2.23%                              584 42
Trevor Whelan 2.22%                              720 43
Richie McLernon 2.21%                              906 44
John Kington 2.20%                              273 45
Peter Carberry 2.17%                              460 46
Thomas Garner 2.14%                              327 47
Diarmuid O'Regan 2.14%                              327 48
Liam Treadwell 2.14%                              889 49
James Best 2.13%                              800 50
Kielan Woods 2.12%                              566 51
Danny Cook 2.11%                              473 52
Harry Challoner 2.07%                              434 53
Joe Cornwall 2.04%                              343 54
Peter Buchanan 2.02%                              793 55
Craig Nichol 2.02%                              595 56
Callum Bewley 2.01%                              348 57
Thomas Cheesman 2.00%                              250 58
Robbie Moran 1.99%                              251 59
J J Burke 1.95%                              972 60
Daragh Bourke 1.95%                              205 61
Kevin Sexton 1.95%                              769 62
Ben Poste 1.92%                              469 63
Will Kennedy 1.88%                              906 64
Martin Burke 1.81%                              221 65
Nico de Boinville 1.79%                              616 66
Matt Griffiths 1.76%                              284 67
Wayne Hutchinson 1.74%                           1,090 68
D J Casey 1.73%                              751 69
All jockey average 1.73%                      140,189 70
Tom Cannon 1.72%                           1,165 71
Harry Bannister 1.70%                              235 72
Jamie Bargary 1.69%                              237 73
Brian Harding 1.66%                           1,026 74
Jonathan England 1.65%                              485 75
Paul Carberry 1.62%                              740 76
Callum Whillans 1.62%                              247 77
Hadden Frost 1.62%                              247 78
Jake Hodson 1.61%                              311 79
Maurice Linehan 1.60%                              250 80
Brian Hayes 1.60%                              752 81
A P Heskin 1.59%                           1,198 82
Ryan Treacy 1.57%                              255 83
Henry Brooke 1.55%                              901 84
Jake Greenall 1.54%                              585 85
Mark Grant 1.54%                              455 86
Keith Donoghue 1.53%                              391 87
Jody McGarvey 1.52%                              592 88
Shane Shortall 1.49%                              470 89
Ryan Mania 1.48%                              607 90
Daniel Hiskett 1.48%                              203 91
Richie McGrath 1.44%                              277 92
M P Fogarty 1.44%                              696 93
Adam Wedge 1.43%                              837 94
Conor Ring 1.42%                              351 95
Brendan Powell 1.42%                           1,338 96
Jamie Moore 1.42%                           1,270 97
Robert Thornton 1.39%                              360 98
Sam Twiston-Davies 1.39%                           2,380 99
Robert Williams 1.37%                              219 100
Michael Darcy 1.37%                              293 101
Davy Condon 1.35%                              668 102
Killian Moore 1.34%                              372 103
David Mullins 1.34%                              522 104
Jack Doyle 1.34%                              374 105
Marc Goldstein 1.30%                              460 106
Donal Devereux 1.30%                              384 107
Ryan Mahon 1.30%                              540 108
Jack Quinlan 1.28%                              545 109
Kieron Edgar 1.28%                              391 110
Patrick Mangan 1.26%                              477 111
M P Butler 1.25%                              399 112
Sean Quinlan 1.25%                              561 113
Andrew J McNamara 1.23%                              812 114
Brian O'Connell 1.21%                           1,073 115
Andrew Ring 1.21%                              579 116
Andrew Thornton 1.19%                              926 117
Dave Crosse 1.17%                              513 118
E O'Connell 1.17%                              343 119
Derek Fox 1.11%                              450 120
Wilson Renwick 1.08%                              930 121
Leighton Aspell 1.07%                           1,212 122
Bryan Cooper 1.07%                           1,122 123
Patrick Corbett 1.06%                              376 124
Dougie Costello 1.06%                           1,134 125
Denis O'Regan 1.05%                           1,143 126
Tom Scudamore 1.04%                           1,919 127
Paul Townend 1.04%                           1,156 128
Adrian Lane 1.02%                              294 129
James Davies 1.02%                              687 130
Sean McDermott 1.01%                              297 131
Martin Ferris 1.01%                              397 132
Conor Maxwell 1.01%                              397 133
Tom O'Brien 1.01%                           1,590 134
Ciaran Gethings 1.00%                              299 135
Shane Butler 0.97%                              309 136
Brian Hughes 0.97%                           1,857 137
Jack Kennedy 0.96%                              313 138
Ian Popham 0.95%                              631 139
Noel Fehily 0.93%                           1,821 140
Gavin Sheehan 0.93%                           1,075 141
Richard Johnson 0.93%                           2,806 142
Niall P Madden 0.92%                              649 143
Daryl Jacob 0.91%                           1,208 144
Roger Loughran 0.91%                              552 145
Conor O'Farrell 0.90%                              886 146
R Walsh 0.90%                           1,219 147
Joe Tizzard 0.87%                              230 148
Mark Bolger 0.85%                              470 149
Barry Geraghty 0.84%                           1,549 150
Jeremiah McGrath 0.81%                              369 151
Paddy Brennan 0.81%                           1,356 152
Adam Pogson 0.81%                              248 153
Michael Byrne 0.81%                              621 154
Phillip Enright 0.80%                           1,127 155
Mark Walsh 0.78%                           1,274 156
Jason Maguire 0.78%                           1,279 157
D G Hogan 0.78%                              512 158
John Cullen 0.78%                              512 159
David Bass 0.77%                              779 160
A P McCoy 0.75%                           2,133 161
Ian McCarthy 0.74%                              538 162
Adam Nicol 0.73%                              410 163
James Reveley 0.72%                              829 164
Mr D G Noonan 0.72%                              277 165
A E Lynch 0.69%                           1,880 166
Sean Flanagan 0.67%                              742 167
B M Cash 0.66%                              454 168
Danny Mullins 0.64%                              936 169
Nick Scholfield 0.64%                           1,410 170
Robbie Colgan 0.63%                              950 171
Paul Moloney 0.59%                           1,533 172
Robbie Power 0.50%                              800 173
Harry Derham 0.48%                              208 174
Harry Skelton 0.47%                              859 175
Rhys Flint 0.41%                              245 176
Davy Russell 0.36%                           1,105 177
Felix De Giles 0.22%                              457 178

 

Back to Sam

Where does poor old Sam Twiston-Davies feature? Well he actually does pretty well. He is well below the average unseat rate. He had about 1.39 unseats for every 100 rides. This is a fair bit higher than for Walsh, McCoy and Johnson but isn’t too bad in the grand scheme. He probably needs to improve this part of his game if he wants to be a top jockey, however. I also see that Davy Russell is near the bottom of the Table which fits my impression of him as a rider. He has proven very hard to unseat and a superb horseman. It may also be worth noting that Paul Moloney is well down the table and I think that he is an underrated jockey.

The table doesn’t make for good reading if you are one of the dozen jockeys at the top of the rankings. Conor Shoemark, Sean Bowen, Andrew Tinkler, Samantha Drake, Mark Enright, Stephen Mulqueen, David Splaine, Jonathan Moore, Aidan Coleman, Kevin Jones, Barry Keniry and Lucy Alexander all have exceptionally high unseat rates. I was amazed to see that Aidan Coleman records 3.4 unseats for every 100 rides, which is about twice the average unseat rate. Conor Shoemark seemed to find it hard to stay on a horse in the period in question…

Conclusion

I think this is interesting and potentially profitable data. It could be biased by the fact that some jockeys might be consistently riding poor quality animals that simply can’t jump, but over a large number of rides one would expect much of that bias to be cancelled out.  I’ll certainly be using the data to spot potential lay bets or to re-adjust my own betting forecasts. I hope you find it useful.

 

 

 

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4 replies
  1. Mark says:

    Fascinating research and as you say, some areas to add to lay betting filters. Many thanks for the hard work.
    Festive best wishes, Mark

  2. bernard says:

    Very informative and useful. I remember John Francome doing a similar report some years ago after he had finished riding. He listed about ten riders that he would have confidence in carrying his money as a punter but suprisingly they only included one or two of the leading jockeys at the time.

  3. lickybits says:

    im amazed at how many jockeys you see jumping the last fence in the clear only to then fall of a horse before the line seen that happen twice this month.

    i won’t back T Scudamore over fences, i’ve seen him hit so many fences especially coming to the last 1-2 fences when hes in the lead but being challenged by another jockey, when i see T Scudamore on a short priced fav back against the fav with a lot of confidence usually winning has he in my opinion doesn’t handle pressure very well.

  4. hillsy945 says:

    Intriguing reading Matt. I’ve always regarded Sean Bowen as one of the top young jockeys…

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