Creating Jockey Ratings: A Few Thoughts

I'm not really sure why I started trying to assign a score to jockeyship. The notion hatched on the rattler to Salisbury last week, where I was going to meet David Probert, geegeez.co.uk's sponsored jockey. I guess, then, that is why...

My apprehension was - and remains - that jockey performance is so dependent on two other major actors, the horse and the trainer, that it is very difficult trying to pare the incidental from the coincidental.

What to measure?

The first question to answer then is 'what to measure?'

Number of wins or places is too simplistic. So is percentage of wins or places. Profit and loss is no more than a basic indicator, which can be heavily skewed by a single big-priced winner.

No, none of these will add much value, if indeed any value can be added from such figures.

Better barometers are percentage of horses beaten and / or performance against market rank.

But perhaps better than all of those is performance against market expectation. For example, even money shots win roughly 45% of the time. Thus any jockey winning on more than 45% of even money shots can be said to be performing above expectation (assuming the sample is of a reasonable size).

There is an inherent problem in that last sentence, one of sample size. Carving all results up into constituent starting prices, such that 10/11 is a different group from even money which in turn is a different group from 11/10 will do little towards achieving remotely representative sample sizes.

Instead, it makes sense to bracket odds together into groups. This will necessarily be arbitrary, but hopefully you'll see the general logic of the groupings.

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Parameters

I focused on UK flat racing during the 2014 and 2015 seasons, breaking the runners up into the above odds bands. For a jockey to appear in an odds group, he/she had to have ridden at least ten horses with odds in that bracket.

For each odds bracket, we can see the runs, wins, win percent, level stakes loss, places, place percent, number of races, and ROI

I've highlighted three columns - win %, place % and ROI - which will act as baselines.

So, for example, in the 4/1 to 13/2 bracket, horses at those starting prices win 14.37% of the time, place 39.56% of the time, and have a negative ROI of 14.31%.

We can now compare the performance of jockeys to these baseline data, with only those whose record betters at least one of the trio of baselines appearing in the tables.

 

The Shorties...

Let's first look at the shortest odds groups, comprised of odds on and even money chances. In each grouping, I've highlighted in green the columns where the jockey's performance is better than the odds bracket benchmark. For the shorties, though, there is not a great deal of data to go on...

jockey_odds_0.5orless

 

jockey_odds_0.51toEvens

These are generally small samples, and there is little to note with the possible exception of Paul Hanagan's excellent showing across 40+ rides.

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11/10 to 7/2

Slightly more data now, so a touch more optimism about the meaningfulness of the results.

jockey_odds_1.01to2

jockey_odds_2.01to3.5

 

Plenty of jockeys with a double positive for all three stats here, notably Paul Hanagan (again), Joe Fanning, Adam Kirby, Richard Kingscote, and Paul Mulrennan.

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4/1 to 10/1

Into the bigger datasets now, and this is a group where some riders will reveal themselves as potential punters' allies.

jockey_odds_3.51to6.5

 

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jockey_odds_6.51to10

 

Those appearing in both lists this time are Charles Bishop, William Carson, Paddy Mathers, Frankie Dettori (again), Paul Mulrennan (again), James Doyle, Robert Winston, Ted Durcan, Paul Hanagan (again again!), Harry Bentley, and David Nolan.

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15/1 to 25/1

Now, just for fun, let's take a look at the bigger priced horses, from 15/1 (or more traditionally 16/1) to 25/1. This table is susceptible to fluke results - one big winner can skew a rider's performance - and should not be taken at face value. Still, it might throw up one or two interesting niblets.

jockey_odds_14.01to25

 

In the context of what's gone before,  it is interesting to note the presence as 'triple green' entries of Paddy Mathers, David Allan and James Doyle (all again, having featured at least in the previous section).

 

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All good fun, but so what?

At the end of the day, the above reveals something and nothing. It is a circuitous route to demonstrate the lies and damned lies of jockey statistics, with various riders appearing at once brilliant and moderate, depending on which table one focuses.

However, some names do crop up repeatedly. Paul Hanagan and James Doyle could lay claim to being close to the pick of their peer group, based on this means of scoring at any rate; while Frankie Dettori also comes out well. Likewise Joe Fanning and Adam Kirby are seemingly more reliable than many.

Meanwhile, if looking for jockeys on the up - or currently under-rated - these data suggest the likes of Charles Bishop, Paddy Mathers and David Allan all deserve at least a second glance when jocked up.

They are, like the vast majority of jockeys, dependent on the form of their retained stables - in these cases, those of Mick Channon, Richard Fahey and Tim Easterby respectively.

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At the end of the day, the difference between a horse winning and losing is probably not very often down to the rider, in my opinion. It should certainly be a given that the ability of the horse (duh!) and the trainer - both in conditioning and placing the horse - are of more importance.

Nevertheless, some jocks are better than others, and actual versus expected is a very good way of gauging jockey ability in the market context. In other words, whether jockeys might be profitable to keep onside (regardless of whether their performance is a function of horse and/or trainer form).

Geegeez Gold publishes jockey stats for four different periodicities:

  • 14 Day Form
  • 30 Day Form
  • Course 1 Year Form
  • Course 5 Year Form

For each, users can view both the Actual vs Expected (a figure greater than 1.0 implies a rider's runners are sent off at bigger odds than they should be) and Impact Value.

Impact Value attempts to state the likelihood, compared to the average, of a jockey winning. This is market agnostic (i.e. it doesn't consider the odds in its judgment).

A rider with scores greater then 1.1 for both A/E and IV on a meaningful number of rides is one to keep onside. Here's an example from the racecard, for Paul Mulrennan:

jockeyform_racecard

This view is available to all users of geegeez.co.uk racecards, even those not registered on the website.

For Gold users, our jockey report is a single view digest of all riders competing on a given day, and can be viewed by any of the four periodicities mentioned above.

Here's a filtered example of Monday's riders. In it, I've selected the Course 5 Year Form view, and I've added some filters (100+ runs, A/E and IV of 1.00 or greater)

jockeystats_jimmyfortune

I clicked on J(immy) Fortune's entry to reveal, inline, his rides today. Clicking on any of those line items will take you directly to the race in question. Of the trio, Northern Thunder was a non-runner, Great Fun was second and Irrevocable was a 10/1 third. So, no dice for Jimmy today, but he competed well, as his numbers suggested he would.

Note at the bottom of that quintet of pilots the name of David Allan, the only one with positive figures for both win and each way profit/loss. He's a name I'll be paying closer attention to, albeit towards the end of my form deliberations rather than as a starting point.

From the tables above or, better yet, from the daily jockey statistics report, you can start forming your own educated opinions on the riders worth a few extra pounds, both in terms of weight carried and stakes wagered!

Matt

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9 replies
  1. Gallou says:

    What about differentiating jockeys by distance? Who excels in long distance races as opposed to sprints? Just a thought.

    • Matt Bisogno says:

      Hi Gallou

      There are hundreds of ways to cut the data. Most obvious to me would be by course (some riders excel at some tracks), and by run style (who are the best front-running/hold up jockeys?).

      As I said in the title, it was just a few thoughts 🙂

      Best,
      Matt

  2. Hugh Fowler says:

    Hi Matt, interesting stuff. I have been rating jockeys on 2yos for 4 years and there is clearly a greater aptitude amongst some than others in this sub section.

    I also look at it from a course specific point of view.

    Although I don’t give as much weight to jocks as sire and trainer, with 2yos it is an essential part of the jigsaw.

  3. Richard says:

    Some years ago I found a table about jockeys which ignored their form when riding for their retainer(s). This was much harder (more complex) to manage but the result was an index of who was the better jockey based on performances on “alien creatures” where jockey and horse had to acclimatise to each other in an instant. Of course, this figure was also dependent on which agents got the better rides for their jockeys! So I guess I’m saying that while 5% of the result might be down to the jockey, lady luck might have a greater effect and that in the world of the contrarian (I am definitely one!) then it’s almost an irrelevance!

  4. Lee says:

    Interesting data and more food for thought. Personally I check the jockey stats at the end of my research to see if he or she appears to be riding with confidence – which recent good runs / previous form on this horse / at this track / for this trainer might help to provide. I remember reading some time ago an interview with Pricewise where he stated the most important parts of his selection process were the price and the jockey. While agreeing wholeheartedly with the importance of price I was very surprised that in his eyes the jockey booking would trump all other factors. I guess it just confirms that there’s more than one way to skin a cat and we each have to trust the factors that make most sense (and ultimately most profit) for ourselves

  5. kemal says:

    Hi Matt…I have a feeling that over the jumps Sam Twiston Davies gets beaten on a lot of odds on shots! Is that just a feeling or could you check it out?

    • Matt Bisogno says:

      Hi Kemal

      Bets Wins Win % P/L
      166 101 60.84% -13.01

      That’s the numbers for ST-D on odds-on chances. Not especially amazing, but far from terminal either.

      Best,
      Matt

  6. Brian says:

    I think that many punters will back a horse based on the reputation of the jockey and/or trainer so the prices of horses ridden by Ryan Moore and trained by A P O’Brien, for example, will probably be poor value and not reflect the ability of Ryan. Dettori will suffer similarly.
    No surprise that the jockeys that top your 7/1+ lists are relatively unknown as the opposite argument will apply and horses ridden by talented apprentices will be underbet because many punters will avoid such jockeys, unwisely so in decent handicaps in my opinion.
    Richard Fahey is a good example of a trainer who uses claimers judiciously as backing all of his horses ridden by 5lb or 7lb claimers in class 2 handicaps in the last 5 years would be profitable.

    • Matt Bisogno says:

      Hi Brian

      That’s a nice bit of sub-analysis on Fahey. There are so many different ways to go with this, and it does usually lead to jockey combinations… or riding style. I hope to have some data on jockey performance by run style in the not too distant future, which could be quite revealing, I think.

      Best,
      Matt

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