Jockey Of The Month
Elite Jockeys Of The Month
Some weeks certain Australian jockeys catch the eye and so we've introduced this Jockey Of The Month page to profile jockeys we consider worth keeping an eye on.
Jockey Of The Month: February 2018 Craig Williams
It has been a bit beyond three years since we last nominated Craig Williams as the BetsFree Jockey of the Month, but a look at what he did in February of 2018 makes it obvious that he deserves selection for this month’s accolade.
His most recent win was the Group 3 Premier Signs Mannerism Stakes at Caulfield, where he crossed on Silent Sedition, carrying top weight and beating favourites Flippant and Samovare. Williams and Silent Sedition had an easy time of it, coming across with a better than two-length lead.
No sooner had Williams caught his breath that he climbed aboard Brave Smash to win the Group 1 italktravel Futurity Stakes. Williams was on the $4.80 favourite, but the field was full of proven horses, including second place runner Tosen Stardom, Showtime, Humidor and Mighty Boss.
Williams concluded the day with a third place ride on Hartnell in the Group 2 Carlton Draught Peter Young Stakes.
The day prior, Williams brought home two winners at Moonee Valley, riding Demerara for James Cummings and Demonstrate for Allan and Jason Watson.
Two days’ riding right there is almost enough for us to give the nod to Williams, but earlier in the month, he rode Super Cash for the win at Caulfield in the Group 2 Schweppes Rubiton Stakes. In the race immediately following, Williams nearly got Nick Price’s Holy Snow to the line, finishing second despite jumping on a horse that jumped at $16.
Later in the meeting, he managed to steer veteran campaigner Hartnell to the win in the Group 1 Ladbrokes C F Orr Stakes.
Cap those wins from above with two at Bendigo on February 9 and it is not hard to see that Williams was the class of the field for the month.
As of late February 2018, Craig Williams is atop the premiership standings for the metro tracks of Victoria, his 39 wins five wins clear of Damian lane and seven better than Mark Zahra. The thing that jumps out regarding that statistic is that Williams has been showing up for work on a regular basis, having made almost 30 more starts than his closest pursuer.
Williams does the majority of his riding in Victoria, by a huge margin. He has made over 11,000 starts with the metro and country tracks combined. He has also done a little international riding.
At 40 years of age, it could be said that Williams is in that perfect sweet spot between age and experience and he considers having won two Caulfield Cups, two Cox Plates and one Golden Slipper Stakes as his greatest accomplishments.
He obviously would like to add the Melbourne Cup to his trophy case, but many of the finest jockeys Australia has produced have had banner careers, and yet failed to win the Cup, so Williams has some keen company and he still has some time to win the big one.
Congratulations to the BetsFree Jockey of the Month, Craig Williams.
Jockey Of The Month: January 2018 Luke Currie
Because there is not much high-level racing in January, we gave the betsfree.com.au January Horse of the Month to Sunlight, by dint of her impressive win in the 2018 Magic Millions 2YO Classic.
It would seem logical therefore, to name Sunlight’s rider Luke Currie as bestsfree.com.au Jockey of the Month, but not before we mention that while the gallopers and the big Group racing events are in a lull, the riders are busy every day at country and bush tracks all across the country, not to mention the routine racing being held at the metro tracks.
We are selecting Currie, as his recent body of work shows that he is on a bit on a hot streak. He has almost doubled his career strike-rate of 10 percent to 18 percent over his last 50 rides. That is quite impressive, even for those of us for whom math concepts are challenging.
Currie has been working his trade since 1996, about 22 years by our calculations. He is credited with four Group 1 wins.
Those were the 2002 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (Group 2 at the time) on none other than The Makybe Diva, the 2003 Toorak Handicap on Roman Arch, and he broke his Group 1 duck when he won the 2016 C F Orr Stakes with Savio and Hey Doc in the 2017 Australian Guineas.
We suppose he could claim five if it was prizemoney were the sole determinant, but the Magic Millions 2YO Classic, which carries Group 1 prizemoney, as a Restricted Listed race, does not have the coveted Group 1 label in the name.
At times, Currie has been described as an overnight sensation 20 years in the making. That assessment seems mostly accurate. Currie, as of early 2018, is 36 years of age and has made almost 11,000 starts.
His first ride in 1996 was on Pink Ribbons. He rode her in her final race at Hobart for a fifth place finish. Currie won the 2000 Bletchingly Stakes (1100 m) on Dandy Kid at Caulfield in the rarefied air of a field that included Miss Pennymoney, Sports, Magic Music for horses and Chris Munce, Brett Prebble and Patrick Payne for jockeys. We must include here that Dandy Kid made 87 starts, quite impressive by modern standards.
Currie has done the majority of his riding for trainer Robbie Griffiths, followed by Brian Cox and Robert Smerdon.
He rode almost 200 times for Peter Moody and over 100 for Lee Freedman, so while the name of Luke Currie is not written in marquee lights, the trainers know they can depend on Currie in races of small and large import and of every distance and quality.
Congratulations to Luke Currie, the January 2018 betsfree.com Jockey of the Month
Jockey Of The Month: December 2017 Linda Meech
As 2017 ticks to a close, we at betsfree.com.au find ourselves in the unusual position of doing something we rarely do, which is to name a Jockey of the Month that we have already recognised earlier.
After all, there are so many deserving hoops that we often think that perhaps it might be more appropriate to have a Jockey of the Week and admittedly, we lean in the direction of subjectivity when we make our Jockey of the Month selection.
We are certain that after seeing that, our readers (both of them) will think we are going to duplicate our winner from a while ago and name Hugh Bowman, but sorry, Hughie, for December 2017, you do not get the nod.
Rather, it is Linda Meech, who was our pick in July of 2017, who gets the betsfree.com.au Jockey of the Month for December 2017.
At this moment in time, Meech holds the top rank in Victoria and the top rank for the country venues.
Since Linda Meech does the majority of her riding outside the metro tracks of Victoria, she ranks 25th in that category, but when the number of jockeys is taken into consideration, being 25th out of hundreds is still most respectable.
Since she seldom rides many races at the NSW metro tracks, just 143 out of over 7,000 starts, she does not figure prominently in the premiership standings for that state and is currently at number 101 so far as anything outside of Victoria is concerned.
Thus, when you look at her 13th ranking for the entire country, you cannot help but be impressed.
Over the course of what is now an 18-year career, she has taken the most rides for Peter Moody, 521 to be exact. Now that Moody has called time rather than deal with cobalt allegations, Meech seems to have been having a pretty much hand-to-mouth sort of racing life.
She has tasted success of late while riding for Ken Keys, when she rode Like A Carousel to a win in the Pakenham Cup (2500 m) at Pakenham’s stand-alone meeting, one that offers a race of metropolitan status and prizemoney.
Linda Meech and Like A Carousel jumped at $41. Only Transfer Allowance at $81 was longer, so there were 10 others in the field who received a surprise, including the favourite, Ondicum Ruler ($4.20), ridden by the hotshot apprentice Beau Mertens.
Ms. Meech, as of this writing, already has ridden six other winners in December, so regardless of how the month finishes, we found her deserving.
Congratulations to Linda Meech, the bestfree.com.au Jockey of the month for December 2017.
Jockey Of The Month: November 2017 Corey Brown
One race would not normally sway us in our selection of the Betsfree.com.au Jockey of the Month, but when that one race was the winning ride in the Melbourne Cup, we experienced little hesitation in picking Corey Brown.
Brown brought Rekindling home in the 2017 Melbourne Cup. Rekindling was the youngest horse in the race, a three-year-old in his Native Northern Hemisphere and the Melbourne Cup is typically won by more experienced horses.
Brown has been at his trade for many years. He is currently 41 years of age and can lay claim to having taken over 15,000 races. He has made over 500 starts at the Group 1 level and has won 46 of those, including another Melbourne Cup in 2009, when he brought Shocking home ahead of Crime Scene (Kerrin McEvoy) and Mourilyan (Glen Schofield).
Brown has done the majority of his riding in New South Wales and he has two Sydney Cups to show for it. He was the driver of Polarisation in 2017, where he crossed ahead of favourite Big Duke and Glenn Boss riding for Charlie Appleby.
Sixteen years prior, he was on Mr. Prudent, taking the race from two shorter priced horses for his Sydney Cup win in 2001.
Brown’s other big victory was the 2005 Australian Derby at Royal Randwick, when he was riding Eremein.
The statistic that jumps out with regard to Corey Brown, along with the staggering number of times he has started, is the $114 million in prize money he has accumulated since 2000.
Trainers have entrusted Brown with more than a few worthy horses, Shocking and Apache Cat being the two most prominent.
Brown won his first Group 1 race, as best we can determine, in 2003, when he won not one, but five. Those were the Canterbury Guineas (Fine Society), the Blue Diamond Stakes (Kusi), the Epsom Handicap (Clangalang), the Spring Champion Stakes (Niello) and the Flight Stakes (Unearthly).
Along with the two Melbourne Cup and Sydney Cup wins, Brown won the Black Caviar Lightning on two occasions, in 2017 on Terravista and in 2008 on Apache Cat.
Brown got his start in 1991 aboard Starry Dale. All these years later, he has proven consistent enough that he has been handed the reins by Chris Waller over 200 times. His history extends far back enough to have ridden for Lee Freedman and John Hawks. Brown’s win/place strike rate for those three averages 38 percent, but he has a 48 percent strike rate when he is working for Bryan Guy, which Brown has for over 100 races.
Congratulations to the Bestsfree.com.au Jockey of the Month, Corey Brown.
Jockey Of The Month: October 2017 Michael Walker
His name may not be written in letter large and surrounded by the bright lights associated with the likes of Hugh Bowman, Kerrin McEvoy and Luke Nolen, but if it was to be strictly statistics writ large and brightly illuminated, the name of Michael Walker is perfect for the betsfree.com.au October Jockey of the Month.
Just 33 years of age and in his prime, Walker’s numbers are impressive from any perspective.
He has made almost 7,000 starts since he took to the turf on The Gifted Shifta in 1999 at Otaki Maori Racing Club, which is the ideal spot to bring up the fact that Walker has done a lot of overseas racing.
Walker brought the horse to the line not long after no less luminary a figure than Chris Munce could not get The Gifted Shifta across.
A figure that leaps off the page when you look at Walker is that he has won more, 933 races, than he has runner-up (711) or third (690).
In Australia, Walker does most of his metro racing on Victorian tracks, metro and country. An interesting tidbit in this stat is that he has only taken 100 rides anywhere in NSW. Nigel Blackiston has hired Walker on more than 400 occasions and he has taken many rides for the David and Ben Hayes and Tom Dabernig trio, along with Mick Price and more than 100 for Michael Maroney.
His major accomplishments since shortly after he began riding include winning the Brisbane Cup on Danestorm in 2004, the Australian Cup on Spillway in 2015 and the main lead up to the Caulfield Cup, the Caulfield Stakes on Criterion in 2015.
In total, he has been entrusted with top horses for well over 200 Group 1 race, for which he can brag of 19 victories and 37 placings, which equates to a percentage rate of 25 percent.
The number that truly matters, prize money, does not find Walker lacking. As of late October 2017, he has taken in $33.3 million and change.
Walker will be on hand Saturday, October 28, at Moonee Valley, scheduled to ride race four, the Ladbrokes Crockett Stakes, on Pure Emotion. He will also have Danuki out in race six. Danuki was sired by Exceed and Excel, the multiple Group winner that was selected to serve Black Caviar to produce her first foal, Oscietra, proof positive that connections and trainers trust him with top horses.
These are just some of the figures regarding Walker that space permits us to examine.
With decent fortune, expect Michael Walker to continue his consistent, impressive riding performances and to add to his connections’ bags for some time to come.
Congratulations to our freebets.com.au Jockey of the Month for October 2017, Michael Walker.
Previous Jockeys Of The Month
- Paul Gatt
- Damian Lane
- Linda Meech
- Dean Yendall
- Jeffery Lloyd
- William Pike
- Felicia Bergstrand
- Jamie Kah
- Jeff Lloyd
- Regan Bayliss
- Kerrin McEvoy
- Tommy Berry
- Dwayne Dunn
- Brenton Avdulla
- Jim Byrne
- Michelle Payne
- Hugh Bowman
- Eran Boyd
- Clare Lindop
- Brenton Avdulla
- David Pires
- Craig Williams
- Tegan Harrison
- Damien Oliver