When you’re next horse racing betting you may hear commentators and pundits talk about apprentice jockeys. It is a term used often in racing when profiling new jockeys that are starting to make a name for themselves in the UK and Irish racing world.
But don’t be put off if your chosen horse for a big race is being ridden by an apprentice jockey. In this Demystifying Racing guide, we’ll explain what apprentice jockeys are and what allowances they are afforded when racing against professionals.
You’ll also discover how to spot an apprentice jockey on a racecard.
The world of horse racing would not exist without apprentice jockeys – so let’s take a look at what they’re all about…
WHAT IS AN APPRENTICE JOCKEY?
An apprentice jockey is a rider aged between 16 and 25 who is working their way up the ladder towards becoming a full professional. They race during the Flat season, as opposed to conditional jockeys, who race in the National Hunt season.
Now, the goal of an apprentice jockey is to become a professional. To do this, they must ride 95 winners. That may sound like a lot but if a jockey is racing around 300 times a year then they will swiftly begin to cut into that figure.
Once they have won 95 races, apprentice jockeys are considered full professionals and lose their weight allowances.
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WHAT ALLOWANCES DO APPRENTICE JOCKEYS GET?
As we just mentioned, once an apprentice jockey earns 95 wins they lose their weight allowances. Now, these allowances are in place to help apprentice jockeys earn a step up when competing against experienced riders.
As we detail in our guide to horse racing weight allowances, apprentice jockeys are relieved of the below weights until they win a certain amount of races:
- 7lb allowance for first 20 winners ridden
- 5lb allowance for 21-40 winners ridden
- 3lb allowance for 41-75 winners ridden
Once an apprentice jockey has ridden 75 winners their weight allowance disappears.
SPOTTING AN APPRENTICE JOCKEY
You can easily spot an apprentice jockey and the weight allowance afforded to them when looking at the Paddy Power race card. If a jockey has a number in brackets next to their name then it indicates the weight advantage they have. The number will be (7), (5) or (3) depending on how many winners the apprentice jockey has previously ridden.
IS AN APPRENTICE JOCKEY BAD FOR MY BET?
Absolutely not. If your chosen horse is being ridden by an apprentice jockey then that doesn’t mean your bet will lose. In fact, it can mean quite the opposite.
Jockeys must go through the apprentice or conditional stage whether they like it or not. That means that a naturally gifted apprentice jockey could win many races but still not be considered a full professional until they reach the golden 95 wins mark.
Rather than get hung up over the age and experience of a jockey, when horse racing betting you should always look at the jockey’s previous rides. If the form of both the jockey and horse is strong, then this is a good indication that together they might win the race.
What’s more, the weight allowances an apprentice jockey can have means they’re often a good bet when you consider the racing betting odds.
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