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: March 2019 Jim Cassidy
Just how good is he?
We have made him the betsfree.com.au Jockey of the Month for March 2019 and he has not even ridden in a race.
He shares a connection with our Horse of the Month for March 2019, The Autumn Sun, because this jockey rode The Autumn Sun’s dad, Redoute’s Choice.
This jockey is already in the Australian and New Zealand Racing Halls of Fame. He has won two Melbourne Cups, two Caulfield Cups, one Golden Slipper Stakes and was just the third jockey that can claim 100 Group 1 wins. He hit that mark when he guided Zoustar to the post in the 2013 Group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200 m) at Flemington.
If you have yet to pin the name of this man, your final clue is that he has published an autobiography bearing his nickname, “Pumper.”
By now it should be clear that we are writing about Jim Cassidy.
Jim Cassidy made headlines this month when he was tossing out hints that he may return to racing, even though he is 56 years old.
He spoke not long after being involved in a car accident that left his with assorted bruises and bleeding of the brain when a car driving on the wrong side of the road collided with Cassidy’s vehicle. Cassidy was returning from a round of golf, so let that be a warning to all the golfers that simply driving to drive has risks, not equal to riding Thoroughbreds, perhaps, but risky all the same.
"I probably thought it was time to step aside (when retiring), I could probably still do it today if I wanted to get back and do it," Cassidy told RadioTAB.
Jim Cassidy has not ridden a horse for several years, but expressed no doubt that he could ride again.
Racehorse owner John Singleton is one, at least, of those spurring Cassidy to ride competitively once again.
Cassidy’s younger brother Larry, aged 48, is still riding in Brisbane, so there might be a DNA factor at work.
"It's like riding a bike once you've put in the time and effort that me and Larry (Cassidy) has," Cassidy added.
In his prime, he was regularly handed the reins of the likes of Kiwi, Might And Power and Rough Habit.
He took his greatest number of rides for Chris Waller.
Would it not be a dream race if he were to get back with a ride on Winx?
Jockey Of The Month: February 2019 James McDonald
For those who enjoy a good punt, the Sydney jockeys’ premiership table, as of late February of 2019, seems like a race between Hugh Bowman and James McDonald.
According to tab.com.au, betting on James McDonald will only get you $1.15, while Bowman is quoted at $3.50.
Things can certainly change between now and the end of the 2018 – 2019 Australian Thoroughbred racing season, but we are picking McDonald for the betsfree.com.au Jockey of the Month for February.
Some may recall that McDonald was our pick in August of 2018, when he started the season strong with 16 wins.
McDonald has 79 wins, placing him third on the table behind Greg Ryan and Andrew Gibbons, but McDonald’s prize money exceeds those two combined by a considerable margin. Bowman and McDonald are neck and neck for prize money totals. Both are above five million, a figure bettered only by Kerrin McEvoy’s $11.4 million, as he was the one in the seat when Cross Counter won the Melbourne Cup and Redzel took out The Everest. Those two races contributed over $10 million to McEvoy’s total for the season.
Only Ryan has any edge over James McDonald for strike rate. Punters know that Ryan will return a dividend no less frequent than one in every five races. For his last 50 races, he has placed third or better on 21 occasions and he came within half a length of steering Kementari to the win in the Group 1 C F Orr Stakes at Caulfield.
Nineteen of James McDonald’s rides were for Chris Waller. He took eight for James Cummings. Kris Lees, David Payne, even the Snowdens put their faith in McDonald over the month of February.
James McDonald has had a resurrection of sorts. He was once the top rider for the Godolphin stables, but was suspended for betting on his horse for a race at Randwick in 2015. The mere fact that James Cummings, now the chief overseer for Godolphin is using McDonald’s services for important races speaks volumes about this jockey’s talent.
For the immediate future, McDonald has 10 rides on his schedule for a midweek meeting at Rosehill Gardens. It would have been 11 but for Still Single being scratched from the second race.
The weekend coming, he will be busy at Randwick, where Cummings, Waller, Joe Cleary and Ron Quinton have entrusted him to do some of the steering for what looks to be a busy day of racing.
Congratulations to James McDonald, the betsfree.com.au February 2019 Jockey of the Month.
Jockey Of The Month: January 2019 William Pike
Choosing a betsfree.com.au Jockey of the Month for the month of January seems like damning by faint praise.
There are no big races and while the top jockeys have to work even when there are no Group races of which to speak, as is the case for January of 2019, we found one jockey standing far clear of any other.
The current leader in the Australian Jockey Premiership and the bestsfree.com.au Jockey of the Month is William Pike.
William Pike was our pick back in April of 2017 and what he has done is the current Thoroughbred racing season almost makes it seem as though he is more than one rider.
He earned our notice with his work rate, for one thing. He has made 434 starts to this point in the 2018 – 2019 Thoroughbred racing season, which places him fourth on the list of the top 20.
The major deciding factor was his 28.10 percent strike rate, which is over three percent better than Greg Ryan, the current number two. Pike’s high strike rate has him 35 wins ahead of Ryan.
While it is true that Pike does most of his racing in Western Australia, that is no longer the stigma it once was, as the West Coast is starting to assert itself in many regards, sports in particular.
Racing in the west does hurt William Pike in terms of the prize money table, where his wins to not equate to those of say, Kerrin McEvoy, who has this year won several big money races, including the 2018 Melbourne Cup.
From the pure statistical viewpoint, however, Pike not only heads the table in wins, the only place where anyone matches him if for third place finishes, where a jockey named Grant Buckley seems to live to finish third.
If we were to confine our examination of William Pike to Western Australia, well it would take the win totals of the next four on the list to get close to Pike’s total for his Western Australia jurisdiction. Other than Lucy Warwick, who has taken in just over $1 million in winnings, Pike’s $4.5 million is so far in front that it seems at times as though he rides multiple horses in the same race.
Our final nod to William Pike is that he has over 20 wins for the month of January, so he is racking up the sort of numbers that make him an easy choice for the betsfree.com.au January 2019 Jockey of the Month.
Jockey Of The Month: December 2018 Greg Ryan
The betsfree.com.au Jockey of the Month for December 2018 is Greg Ryan.
There is not much going on in Thoroughbred racing in December, so we picked Ryan of the basis of his standing in the New South Wales Jockey Premiership as the 2018 – 2019 racing season approaches the midway point.
Ryan has not won the most money amongst the jockeys in the state. In fact, several are well ahead of him in that category. Ryan has about $1.2 million for the season to this point, while Kerrin McEvoy, mainly on the strength of his Melbourne Cup win, has over $10 million.
The others ahead of Greg Ryan in prize money are James McDonald, Hugh Bowman, Tommy Berry, Tim Clark, Tye Angland Jay Ford and one or two others.
Our reasons for choosing Ryan are several.
Of the above group of jockeys, only McDonald comes close in strike rate, his 24.10 percent trailing Ryan’s 24.30 percent by the obviously narrow margin.
Another thing that caught our eye is that Greg Ryan has a margin of seven wins over the number two, Andrew Gibbons, despite Ryan’s having 75 fewer starts than Gibbons has.
Ryan’s first win for the month was on Moobi on 4 December at Scone, a country track about 300 km north of Sydney. He had three other wins on the day, those of Phuket, through The Cracks and Chosen Prince.
Three days after those wins, it was a double at Mudgee, where Greg Ryan rode eight times, notching wins aboard Our Dasha and Prima Stella.
Next came another four-win haul, this one at Gennedah, where he brought Uncle Sugar, Shangato, Havenot and Brixton Town to the post ahead of any others.
Two wins followed on 10 December at Dubbo, with Ryan winning on Healing Hands and Larynx.
Then, it was back to Scone for a double on Poulton Le Sands and Clipper on 14 December. Positive peace was the horse for Ryan’s next win on 17 December at Orange, and then back to Dubbo for wins on 21 December, with Sipharderson, Western Saga doing the hard work.
The final win for the month, through 22 December at least, was the same Moobi that gave Greg Ryan his first win of the month, except that in this case, Ryan was all the way to Moonee Valley for the win.
Our tally for the month is 19 wins and while the racing scene is quiet on the metro tracks, Ryan has been working the smaller venues, quite effectively, as he has nearly doubled his career winning percentage.
Congratulations to Greg Ryan, the betsfree.com.au December 2018 Jockey of the Month.
Jockey Of The Month: November 2018 Ryan Moore
There were many deserving candidates for the betsfree.com.au Jockey of the Month for November.
The winner of the Melbourne Cup, Kerrin McEvoy, has a strong case because, well, he won the Melbourne Cup.
James McDonald is right there, along with Tommy Berry, Hugh Bowman and Tim Clark.
Craig Williams, John Allen, Damian Lane and Dwayne Dunn are strong contenders if we move from Sydney to Melbourne.
Eventually, the betsfree.com.au Jockey of the Month for November 2018 was based on one remarkable feat.
Our November award winner was riding Grade 1 races at Churchill Downs in Kentucky on November 4 (Oz time), and then made it back to Flemington to ride on November 6 in the Melbourne Cup.
We are speaking of none other than Ryan Moore and we are declaring him the betsfree.com.au Jockey of the Month for November 2018.
Moore does not do a lot of racing in Australia these days, but the jet lag alone made him deserving in our eyes.
He is the top hoop for Aidan O’Brien’s Ballydoyle stables, but he is a bounty killer in the truest sense and will ride anywhere around the globe, so long as the fee includes a plane ticket and legal jet lag treatments.
He was the rider of Adelaide in 2014 when the Cox Plate was the prize. A couple weeks hence, he won the Melbourne Cup on Protectionist.
Space limitations prevent us from listing all the major wins Moore has notched in Great Britain. He has won in Canada, France Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Japan, the United Arab Emirates and the United States.
In that year of 2014, when he steered Adelaide to the Cox Plate, he took the horse across first in the Grade 1 Secretariat Stakes, a major U.S race, in August.
Adelaide got around almost as much as Moore, winning four races and placing in four and is now standing at Coolmore in New South Wales.
Punters can rely on a good wager when they see Moore’s named listed. His will to win is so strong that he has won more than all others save Franke Dettori and Joe Fanning, but those two had at least 10 years jump on Moore.
In an era of Thoroughbred racing where the term shuttle stallion is commonly used to indicate studs who service mares in both hemispheres in order to produce the most progeny, we propose that we need a term to apply to the November 2018 betsfree.com.au Jockey of the Month.
Jockey Of The Month: October 2018 Jamie Kah
Unlike the Horse of the Month, the October 2018 betsfree.com.au Jockey of the Month is not so straightforward.
In one regard, however, it is an easier selection to make, as top hoops race often. Last month’s Jockey of the Month, Dwayne Dunn rode over 50 times in October and he is still atop the Victorian Metro ladder, so it is quite easy to look at the results and declare a winner.
Believe it or not, there is quality Thoroughbred racing in Australia in states other than Victoria and New South Wales, so we went to South Australia to find Jamie Kah at the top of the premiership standings by a healthy margin and thus declare her the betsfree.com.au Jockey of the Month for October 2018.
For the current season that began in August, Kah has made 136 starts and has recorded 38 wins. She has earned over $850,000 for the season and she carries a 27.94 percent strike rate.
We have her with 10 wins for October. The most impressive in our view and so far as the odds are concerned, was when she steered Hidatsa from $11 Starting Price to a win at Gawler, a country track 40 km to the north of Adelaide.
Jamie Kah is just 22 and already has 688 wins since she took her first ride on Alannan Lad in 2012.
She seems to be on the rise during October and has improved her recent win percentage from her career mark of 17 percent to 20 percent over her last 50.
Jamie Kah has yet to notch a Group 1 win, but she has come close on two occasions, with two seconds and one third placing from 15 attempts. Neither has she won a Group 2, with one second and three thirds from 14 starts. She has won four Group 3 quality races.
Most of Jamie Kah’s riding has been for John Macmillan with 491 starts, followed by 291 starts for Tony McEvoy.
Kah’s trajectory seems to have an inevitable upward arc to it and the results she is producing at an early age will serve her for 20 years or more, if she chooses to continue racing.
It would seem only a matter of time before she starts being handed more Metro starts in significant races. She has done some racing on Victoria Metro tracks, enough to take in about $1.5 million, which is respectable for a young rider who has made over 3,500 of her starts at the SA tracks.
Good luck to Jamie Kah in her chase of the 2018 – 2019 South Australia jockey’s premiership and congratulations on being the betsfree.com.au Jockey of the Month for October 2018.
Jockey Of The Month: September 2018 Dwayne Dunn
Over his last 50 races, jockey Dwayne Dunn has improved his win percentage from 12 to 18 percent, so we take great pleasure in declaring him the betsfree.com.au Jockey of the Month for September 2018.
It is true that there are a few days of racing remaining for the month, including some major races, but the recent leap in winning percentage was the main reason why we selected Dunn.
Dunn has been at it a long time, as well, and those of us with long teeth enjoy seeing a veteran do well.
Dunn’s name may not be quite as prominent as some of the others’, but he has been in the game since 1989 and has amassed, according to the most recent available information, 2032 wins, including 23 at Group 1 quality and almost $90 million in prizemoney.
The jump in winning percentage is all the more impressive because Dunn is a hard worker who is not afraid to take the reins at some of the less prominent tracks, something that is not lost on the prominent trainers who trust Dunn to get the job done when the racing is not of the marquee variety.
His most recent outing was at the country track of Ballarat, where he notched a treble by winning on Heart Conquered and Wild Planet for trainer J.R. Hawkes. His other win on the day was on Pierrocity for T.L. Busuttin.
It was a nice recovery for Dunn, who the day before had gone through a tough day at Caufield, where five starts yielded nothing better than two fourth place finishes.
By our accounting, Dunn won five other times during the month and his 60 starts to date in the new season tops the list for Victorian Metro jockeys, as do his nine wins.
Dunn will be in action again soon, at Flemington, where he has rides booked on Pressure for M.S.S. Cumani and Fund Fact for Waterhouse and Bott.
Trainers David Hayes and John Hawkes seem to be staging their own contest for Dunn’s services and Dunn has ridden 1069 times for Hayes and 1067 times for Hawkes, with 148 and 188 wins, respectively.
Dunn came to those two with the recommendation of lee Freedman, who has supplied Dunn with 744 starters.
Dunn is by no means finished, in terms of his career, but 2015 – 2016 was arguably the best season. He won four Group 1 races and over $9.2 million in prizemoney, but his consistency fairly leaps off the page, where we discovered that going back to 2013, he was always above 30 percent in his place percentage, with a couple of years coming in at 37 percent.
Congratulations to Dwayne Dunn, the betsfree.com.au September 2018 Jockey of the Month.
Jockey Of The Month: August 2018 James McDonald
James McDonald is our selection for the betsfree.com.au August 2018 Jockey of the Month.
He has started the new season in fine fashion and is in the top position for New South Wales jockeys as the spring racing season moves ahead.
McDonald has not made the most starts. Of the top 10 jockeys in that category, he is eighth with 55 starts. His $811 thousand in earnings trails Hugh Bowman by $65 thousand, with Bowman making just one more start.
MacDonald does top the list with 16 wins in August, along with 21 other races that have produced finishes of fifth or better. His 29.1 percent strike rate is roughly nine percentage points better than any of the other top jockeys, a list that includes the likes of Tye Angland, Greg Ryan, Andrew Gibbons, Kerrin McEvoy, Tim Clark and Hugh Bowman.
McDonald is back on the top after serving an 18-month suspension for a $1000 bet he placed on his horse, Astern, at Randwick in 2015. He returned in May of this year as a freelance rider after having been the top rider for Goldolphin in Australia.
McDonald started his month of August with two wins at Hawkesbury on 2 August. He rode Signore Fox for the Snowdens in a 1300-metre maiden. White Boot won a benchmark 78 with McDonald steering for Kim Waugh.
Next was a riding job for James Cummings at Randwick on 4 August, when Soothing won a benchmark 78 race. That same day, he rode Pierata for Gregory Hickman to the win in the Group 2 Missile Stakes, beating Kementari.
Chris Waller employed McDonald to ride Metamorphic at Canterbury on 8 August for a win and it was Waller’s Scratches on 16 August for McDonald’s next win at Newcastle. That same day, he had another winner, this one for Kris Lees aboard Progression.
McDonald got a nice race out of Le Romain to win the Group 3 Show County for Kris Lees on 18 August, with another win on the day on Almanzora for James Cummings.
Four days later, he notched a treble with Sure Knee, Tarka and Coruscate, all at Warwick Farm, for Waller, David Payne and Cummings.
On 23 August, he rode two winners for Waller, Mister Sea Wolf and Semper Fidelis at Hawkesbury.
Sandwiched among all those were numerous placings.
With the backing of many of Thoroughbred racing’s top trainers, it would seem that McDonald is looking to make amends for his past transgression and it is possible that we will see his name in the results alongside the number one in the month of September, so congratulations to James McDonald, the bestfree.com.au Jockey of the Month for August 2018.
Jockey Of The Month: July 2018 Brenton Avdulla
The recognition of July 2018 betsfree.com.au Jockey of the Month was an easy one.
Our selection is Brenton Avdulla, who ran away with the New South Wales Jockey Premiership for the soon-to-be concluded 2017 – 2018 Australian Thoroughbred racing season.
Avdulla may make some more starts in 2018, as July still has a few days remaining, but even if he does not straddle one more horse, he has had a month and a season to remember.
He has made 52 starts this month and recorded 10 wins, for which we have to give him a 20 percent winning strike rate. Additionally, he had 14 placings, which equates to 47 percent. He had six months in the past 12 where his win/place strike rate was beyond 50 percent, so punters know that when they see his name listed, their chances of banking a dividend are about even.
For the season, he won 174 times and took in $12.1 million in prizemoney, trailing only Kerrin McEvoy, whose $13.4 million haul was boosted considerably by his win aboard Redzel in the inaugural running of the Everest.
Avdulla made 912 starts for the year and we like to pick jockeys who put the work in. Only Jeff Penza (1066) and Grant Buckley (982) had more rides for the season and their prizemoney totals are far in arrears to that of Avdulla.
We mere mortals had to wat until late in the season to tip Avdulla to win the NSW jockeys’ premiership, but Hugh Bowman, as good a judge of riders as he is of horses, was convinced that Avdulla had the premiership in the bag as early as April of 2018.
Bowman texted Avdulla, saying, “Good luck with the premiership — it’s yours if you make it happen.”
“I still have that text on my phone,’’ Avdulla said to a reporter for The Daily Telegraph. “Hughie was in Japan at the time when I got his text. I’ll never forget it. Hughie obviously saw something a bit different in me this season.’’
That short message of encouragement meant a lot to Avdulla, who the season prior went down to the wire with Bowman in a battle that eventually went to Bowman.
This premiership for the 2017 – 2018 season will be Avdulla’s maiden premiership, but it is hard to imagine any normal scenario where he will not add more titles and his margin for the season seems to indicate that not only Bowman’s text, but also the heartbreak of leading only to have the premiership snatched away at the final moment, forged a stronger and more determined Avdulla.
Congratulations to Brenton Avdulla, the 2017 – 2018 NSW Jockeys Premiership winner and the betsfree.com.au July 2018 Jockey of the Month.
Jockey Of The Month: June 2018 Tye Angland
With not much on the thoroughbred racing calendar for the month of June, we have relied upon the good folks at Racing NSW to supply us with the statistics for the 2017 – 2018 season that causes us to pick Tye Angland as the betsfree.com.au Jockey of the Month for June.
With the season down to a matter of days, it would not appear as though Angland, currently number two on the table, can catch Brenton Avdulla, but it does appear that he closed the gap to some extent.
Tye Angland seems to have second sewed up for the season set to end soon. Barring scratches, it seems that he has 11 races left for the season, a meeting at Canterbury and another at Kembla Grange.
In terms of prizemoney, he has well in excess of $10.3 million for the year from 727 starts.
His strike rate of 18.3 percent is in the top three of riders who have notched over 100 wins and his 133 firsts could grow with the engagements he has upcoming.
What caught our eyes is that Angland has been a consistent producer, not just this season, but also in seasons past. In the previous two, he was well up in the standings in 11th and ninth, the sort consistent results that attracts trainers.
Chris Waller is one who makes frequent use of Angland’s services; in fact, Angland has made almost 500 starts aboard Waller’s horses, well beyond double the number for Anthony Cummings.
Angland seems as though he was born to ride. He is just 28, but he took his first ride in 2005. In that span of time between then and now, he has taken in over $45 million in prizemoney.
He has continued to work hard in June, even though the big metro races for the season are over. In fact, his already impressing strike rate was even better over his past 50 rides, rising to 22 percent for the month.
For his career, he has recorded 11 Group 1 wins, seven Group 2s (a shrinking class) and 19 Group 3s. It is that mysterious “other” category of races, however, where Angland shines brightest. He has made almost 6,000 starts in races below Listed, where he is closing in on 800 wins and he carries a 36 percent win/place rate.
One of Angland’s biggest coups of the season was when he and Trapeze Artist sprinted clear of Redzel and In Her Time to win the T.J. Smith Stakes.
So, while the month of June may be a slow one for racing, we mean no disrespect to Angland and it would seem certain that his climb to the top of the premiership table in the not-so-distant future is assured.
Congratulations to Tye Angland, the June 2018 betsfree.com.au Jockey of the Month.
Previous Jockeys Of The Month
- Jeffrey Lloyd
- Kerrin McEvoy
- Hugh Bowman
- Craig Williams
- Luke Currie
- Linda Meech
- Corey Brown
- Michael Walker
- 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