Being a conditional jockey is a key part of progressing up the ladder to the elite ranks in horse racing. These jockeys are usually young, inexperienced riders who are still learning the ropes and coming through the system.
But conditional jockeys are a vital component of how horse racing works in the UK and Ireland, and are worth keeping an eye out for when you browse the day’s race cards. Here, Paddy Power explains everything you need to know about conditional jockeys in our latest Demystifying Racing guide.
What is a conditional jockey?
A conditional jockey is one who is just starting out in the professional ranks of horse racing and is building their experience in the National Hunt season. It’s important to remember that they are professional jockeys, not amateur. The difference between a conditional jockey and a normal jockey is experience – and for horse racing betting punters this is crucial.
It is assumed that because a conditional jockey has less experience than their peers, they should earn a weight advantage when running in National Hunt races. Most race horses run with weights attached to their saddles in order to even out the competition between the runners. Horses that may be handicapped in some way – either by their age, sex or experience of jockey – can have some of their weight taken off, called an allowance.
So, a conditional jockey runs with this weight allowance to better improve their chances of winning a race.
Conditional jockeys is the term used for National Hunt racing, while the Flat season has apprentice jockeys. After jockeys have won either 95 National Hunt races they won’t receive any more weight allowance. For conditional jockeys the allowances are as follows:
- 7lb allowance for first 20 winners ridden
- 5lb allowance for 21-50 winners ridden
- 3lb allowance for 51-95 winners ridden
How to spot a conditional jockey
You can easily spot a conditional jockey when reading a Paddy Power race card in our racing betting sportsbook. Both conditional jockeys and apprentice jockeys will have a number next to their name if they are running with a reduced weight. The number is either (3), (5) or (7) depending on the lbs claimed.
Do conditional jockeys have a betting advantage?
Ideally no. The reason for taking weight off the horse of a conditional jockey is to even out the playing field. This will in turn narrow the odds on the horse winning its race, because it is carrying less on its back. However, how this turns into a betting advantage depends on many other factors. Even with a weight allowance the horse may not be fast enough to keep up with its competitors, may not be suitable for the going, or the jockey may simply be too inexperienced to handle themselves amongst the professionals.
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