The home of intelligent horse racing discussion
The home of intelligent horse racing discussion

Top five jockeys of all-time

Much like every other sport, discussions about who the best jockeys are in the history of horse racing often produce quite heated debates.

Geography generally clouds the picture, with fans in a particular country more likely to favour riders they are familiar with over those plying their trade elsewhere.

Arguments over the merits of flat and jumps racing also play a part, especially in the countries where the latter isn’t a major consideration.

However, we’ve analysed all the main contenders and narrowed the field down to five jockeys who we believe stand head and shoulders about the rest.

AP McCoy

McCoy is undoubtedly the greatest jump jockey of all-time and has a strong case to be considered the best rider across either code.

Fans of National Hunt horse racing betting loved McCoy’s never-say-die attitude that saw him end his career with a record 4,358 winners.

He was crowned champion jockey on 20 consecutive occasions and was undoubtedly a punter’s pal throughout his career.

The fact the McCoy achieved his feats with hurdles and fences in his way sets him apart from his flat-racing counterparts.

Lester Piggott

With 30 Classic victories to his name, Piggott is undoubtedly one of the greatest ever riders to grace the Sport of Kings.

He won the jockey’s championship in the UK on 11 occasions and famously guided Nijinsky to the British Triple Crown – the 2,000 Guineas, Derby and St Leger – in 1970.

Some pundits argue that Piggott’s achievements were sullied when he was found guilty of tax fraud and jailed for three years in 1987.

However, his subsequent victory aboard Royal Academy in the Breeders’ Cup Mile in 1990 was the perfect response to his critics.

Bill Shoemaker

Shoemaker started riding professionally in 1949 at the age of 18 and went on to claim his first jockey’s championship the following year.

He won each of the US Classics on numerous occasions, although he was unable to secure an elusive Triple Crown success.

Shoemaker rode 8,833 winners during his illustrious career before turning his attentions to training in 1990.

However, a solo drunk-driving car accident the following year left him the US racing legend paralysed from the neck down.

Frankie Dettori

Dettori fully deserves his place on the list of all-time greatest jockeys, as he has done more than anyone to keep horse racing in the public eye.

A seven-timer at Ascot in 1996 is undoubtedly his finest achievement, particularly as it came on such a high-class card.

The Godolphin operation severed ties with Dettori after a failed drugs test in 2012, but he has bounced back since then to cement his status as one of the best ever riders.

His talents have transferred seamlessly onto the international racing scene, making Dettori a shoe-in to be included on this list.

Laffit A Pincay Jr

Pincay Jr is second on the list of most career wins in the US behind Russell Baze, but the Panamanian’s record in top class races gives him the edge.

His big race wins during a near 40-year career included the Santa Anita Derby (7), Belmont Stakes (3) and Kentucky Derby (1).

He won more than 9,500 races during his career before calling it a day after breaking his neck coming down Santa Anita’s hillside turf course.

Pincay Jr’s unassuming demeanour won him many friends in the sport and he is undoubtedly one of the greatest jockeys of all-time.

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