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 2020 Jye McNeil
The betsfree.com.au Jockey of the Month for February 2020 is Jye McNeil.
McNeil is at the top of the table for the state of Victoria.
His 75 wins are nine wins clear Harry Coffey and well ahead of some of the top names, such as Linda Meech, Damian Lane and Damien Oliver, to name just three.
From the prize money perspective, McNeil is number five to this point in the 2019 – 2020 Australian Thoroughbred racing season in Victoria.
He has hauled in just under $5 million. His 14.5 percent strike rate is one of the better of the top 20 Victorian jockeys from the table and off that group of 20, McNeil’s 519 starts is second only to the 551 starts of Daniel Stackhouse.
Jye McNeil has seven wins over his last 50 races.
Notable trainers to have retained him include Ciaron Maher & David Eustace and the Hayes operation.
It speaks to us when big-name trainers will entrust a 25-year-old jockey with valuable horseflesh. McNeil’s first ride was in 2011 and when it comes to steady work, Robbie Griffiths is the trainer who most often rings McNeil up.
But, it was no less luminary figure than that of Chris Waller who put McNeil on Kings Will Dream when winning the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes at Flemington.
As he continues to build his body of work, the trainers will come to rely on him more.
Jye McNeil has 605 career wins for the moment. He has done the bulk of his racing on Victorian country tracks, but he is closing in on 2,000 starts on the metro tracks, if other states are included in the mix.
That is not to say McNeil cannot compete on the metro courses. He has 39 wins at Flemington, 40 at Moonee Valley and 20 at Caulfield. He has kept his place percentage well above 20 percent for some time.
McNeil is no shirker. He was just 46 starts from making 1,000 last season, during which he crossed the 100-win threshold with 109 victories.
His current pace suggests that he will establish new benchmarks in key categories. He should easily surpass his prize money of $5.1 million for last season, as he is already at $4.9 million for the current season, with four months remaining.
McNeil might not surpass his 109 wins from last season, even though he is on 75.
The trainers will give him more opportunities at major races, where winning or running top three can never be taken for granted.
Congratulations to Jye McNeil, the February 2020 betsfree.com.au Jockey of the Month.
Jockey Of The Month: January 2020 Ryan Maloney
There are only five Group level races during January, so our betsfree.com.au Jockey of the Month for 2020 is not based on results in January.
True, the jockeys all work throughout the month and ride nearly every day in some instances, but they are working the less glamorous tracks as they work on their form for the upcoming spring carnivals.
The 2019 – 2020 Australian Thoroughbred racing season is just about at the halfway point, though, so we can use the results from the first half of the season to find a deserving jockey.
For the month of January, our pick is Ryan Maloney.
This is the first time for Maloney to be named by us. We relied on the figures that show Maloney as holding the second-best win percentage on the list. Only William Pike hold a narrow edge on Maloney in this category.
Big name hoops, such as James McDonald, Nash Rawiller, Tommy Berry, Craig Williams, Hugh Bowman and others all trail Maloney is this category.
As of late January, Maloney has 38 wins from 159 starts. That supplies him with a 23.9 win percentage. He has 54 placings, bringing his overall percentage to 57.9 percent, the top figure by a clear margin.
Maloney has made just under 5,400 starts for his career, back to 2008, when extensive data first became available.
Nature Strip is the most notable horse Maloney has steered. The pairing resulted in three successive wins at Moonee Valley, Sandown and Flemington.
Ryanb Maloney had a big win in the last days of December when he rode the highly regarded Alligator Blood for the top spot in the Group 3 Vo Rogue Plate at Eagle Farm. That paring also resulted in a first place at Gold Coast at the Magic Millions carnival with the win of the Magic Millions 3YO Guineas. Alligator Blood was a prohibitive favourite in that race, jumping $1.80, while the second line was to a horse, It’s Kind Of Magic, that jumped $10.
The jockey graveyard is populated with more than a few hoops who failed to deliver a favourite to the post, so the fact that Maloney delivered a winner is evidence that he can rise to the occasion and the two length win with only one horse weighted heavier was further evidence of taking best advantage of whatever opportunities racing delivers.
Congratulations to Ryan Maloney, the bestsfree.com.au Jockey of the Month for January 2020.
Jockey Of The Month: December 2019 Tommy Berry
The top horses may be spelling, but the jockeys get up and go to work every day, so choosing the betsfree.com.au jockey of the month is an easier task.
At least it would be, were it not for the fact that the list is crowded with deserving names.
We could say Aaron Bullock or William Pike, both of whom have 94 wins to top the Australian Jockey Premiership table. Another argument for Pike is his 28.3 percent strike rate.
The case for Jade McNaught and Grant Buckley is strong, as even though these two are not metro stars, both have made over 400 starts since the start of the 2019 – 2020 season.
Buckley has made 459 starts, McNaught 432. We have a soft spot for those hoops that come to work, even if it is a lower grade race.
Tommy Berry has the most prize money, with $6.7 million, so we chose him for the betsfree.com.au December 2019 Jockey of the month.
Our figures indicate that Berry has had 10 wins during December of 2019. The first came on December 4, when he rode Rinviata for Matthew Dale in a benchmark 70 race at Gosford in NSW.
His most recent day of riding produced a brace, as he won at Randwick riding Embracer for Waterhouse and Bott and Leviathan for the Snowdens.
At his current work rate, Berry should hit the 10,000-race milestone in the 2020 – 2021 Thoroughbred racing season.
Berry has made over 250 starts in Group 1 races and has notched 27 wins. His number of starts at Group 2 level is almost the exact equivalent to his Group 1 starts. Berry has won 31 times in Group 2 races, 31 time at Group 3 level and 44 Listed races.
The total of his Group races, included Listed races, is 1228, which is just a bit more than his 1166 wins. In short, Berry will ride the horse he is given, as over 8200 of his starts have been dues paying races that formed the basis of his earning more prestigious rides.
He has won 181 time of horses prepared by Gai Waterhouse and 114 times with horses prepared by the Hawkes trio.
To this point in the current season, Berry has wins and if the second half of the season supplies similar returns, Berry is on pace to equal or surpass his results from 2018/19.
Congratulations to Tommy Berry, the betsfree.com.au December 2019 Jockey of the Month
Jockey Of The Month: November 2019 Craig Williams
We nearly went with Craig Williams for the betsfree.com.au Jockey of the Month for October, but we are glad to report that he is our pick for the month of November 2019.
He rode Vow And Declare from the 21st barrier to win the 2019 Melbourne Cup on 5 November and he is staging a battle royale with Damien Oliver at the conclusion of the big spring carnivals.
It is sometimes said that it is lonely at the top, but the top five Victorian metro jockeys are tightly bunched, with No. 5 Dwayne Dunn holding 18 wins. Mark Zahra is on 19 at this moment. Damien Oliver, our Jockey of the Month pick for September, is on 21 wins, tied with Williams.
Of the top 10, only Dunn has made more starts, so along with winning the Cup, Williams got points for showing up for work, just as we ourselves do every day.
Williams rode all 10 races on the first Tuesday of November at Flemington. He had two second and one third placing on the day.
The 42-year-old has won all over the world, but his most significant accomplishment in winning the 2019 Melbourne Cup might have been successfully avoiding a catastrophic collision with Master Of Reality and Frankie Dettori, who appeared as though drink driving in the final stages of the Cup.
Williams has been at it since 1993 and has won 53 Group 1 races.
He jumped his win percentage from 13 to 18 percent over his last 50 races, so all indications are that he is set to have a solid year.
A point of interest where Williams is concerned is that in 2011, he won the Caulfield Cup (Southern Speed) and the Cox Plate (Pinker Pinker), but he was suspended for careless riding in the Bendigo Cup.
He missed the Melbourne Cup due to that suspension, where he had been scheduled to ride Dunaden, the eventual winner of the race.
Williams does the bulk of his riding for trainer David Hayes and most of his racing in Victoria, but he has been known to venture successfully into NSW, South Australia and Queensland from time to time. He has made almost 100 starts internationally.
This is not the first occasion on which Williams caught our eyes.
He was the betsfree.com.au Jockey of the month in February of 2018 and one other time in the past. He has won four jockey’s premierships and has quite a bit of time left on his racing clock.
Congratulations to Craig Williams, the betsfree.com.au Jockey of the Month for November 2019.
Jockey Of The Month: October 2019 Aaron Bullock
Our October 2019 betsfree.co.au Jockey of the Month is Aaron Bullock.
He came close to getting the nod for September, so we have had an eye on him.
He is not exactly a household name yet, but he leads all jockeys in New South Wales with 61 wins for the 2019 – 2020 Australian Throughbred racing season.
Aaron Bullock also has 41 seconds, head of the class there and his 40 thirds are also the best on the table.
Before anyone can say that Aaron Bullock is where he is because he works more than any of the others, while it is true that Bullock has made 254 starts, a few others are above him.
Since he has not got the chances in many big races, his 24 percent win rate for jockeys that have made more than 200 starts for the season trails William Pike by just four-tenths of one percent. His overall strike rate of 55.9 percent is tops for jockeys who have made more than 200 starts.
To put some perspective on that figure, top money winner for the season to date, Damian Lane, trails Bullocks win rate by 10 percent and overall strike rate by over 6 percent.
Another factor in giving Aaron Bullock the nod is that he has jumped from 34 wins all of last season to 61 to this early stage of the current season.
He also gets some marks for perseverance, as he ran afoul of the NSW stewards about a year ago and has gradually restored the trust that evaporated when he had to accept a nine-month suspension for returning a positive urine sample for banned substances that Racing NSW refused to identify.
With that behind him, Bullock, never before having gone off the rails in 12 years of holding a jockey license, set out to clear his reputation.
Bullock does the bulk of his riding for Kris Lees and the best horse he has been given in Jonker.
Jonker is in Saturday’s Golden Eagle at Rosehill, but Bullock will not be steering the $201 chance.
Bullock will be riding Le Romain for Lees in the 1300-metre Redzel Stakes at Rosehill.
Congratulations to Aaron Bullock, the betsfree.com.au October 2019 Jockey of the Month.
Jockey Of The Month: September 2019 Damien Oliver
Over the past 30 days, jockeys with some form of Damian are leading the Victoria metro tables, so our choice for the betsfree.com.au September 2019 jockey of the month is Damien Oliver.
The other Damian, of course, is Damian Lane and he is part of a group of three that trail Oliver by one win in September.
Oliver won nine times during the month and placed in 16 of his other races, so from 59 starts, he has won or placed almost half the time. Forty-three percent is the exact figure.
The only jockey to out earn Oliver this month is Craig Williams and that by just $26,000.
He seems to be doing well with some horses that are not high up in the betting. His wins for September have average odds of $11.21, which is well beyond what he was averaging over the 12 months prior.
Oliver gained some notoriety earlier in the month when he won on a $61 chance by the name of Pushin’ Shapes in one of the preliminary races at Caulfield.
Here was a horse that was recently found ahead of just one other earlier in September when ridden by Joe Azzopardi in the Listed Farnley Stakes at Belmont.
Oliver recently rode Gailo Chop to third place in the Group 1 Underwood Stakes and Oliver intends to ride the galloper in next month’s Cox Plate.
It has been quite a spell since Oliver won the Cox Plate. He did that on Northerly in 2001, so here is a jockey that has been trusted with top horses for a long time.
Oliver himself is a veteran over 6,000 starts, with over 900 wins and 117 Group 1 wins.
There is still a long way to go in the 2019 – 2020 Australian Thoroughbred racing season, so it would be premature and presumptuous to back Oliver for a premiership, but he will be around the top when the season winds down, because he has earned the confidence of some of the top trainers as a jockey that is reliably capable of getting the best possible performance from his mount.
Congratulations to Damien Oliver, the September 2019 betsfree.com.au Jockey of the Month.
Jockey Of The Month: August 2019 Tim Clark
Tim Clark has the money for the first month of the 2019 – 2020 Australian Thoroughbred racing season. He is second to Aaron Bullock for wins, Bullock with 23 and Clark with 19.
Bullock has the slight edge in strike rate, his 28.8 percent to Clark’s 27.5 percent, but Clark has nearly triple the earnings, so after some consideration, we are declaring Clark the betsfree.com.au Jockey of the Month for August 2019.
Clark has 12 wins from his last 50 rides on all manner of tracks, large and small, but his major accomplishment of August was guiding Samadoubt to the win in the first Group 1 race of the season, the Winx Stakes.
Clark and Samadoubt jumped at $31 in the race, beating proven performer Happy Clapper by half a length and every horse that Chris Waller could scrounge up for the race.
Tim Clark is something of a free agent as a rider. He rides for hire and just this month he has worked for Bjorn Baker, Greg Stephens, Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott, the Snowdens, Gerald Ryan, James Cummings and too many more to mention.
It might be safe to say that bringing home a $31 winner might find plenty of trainers seeking his services for the big upcoming spring races.
Tim Clark has been at it since 2003 and boasts a resume that includes over 1,100 wins, 12 of those at Group 1 level and almost $68 million in winnings.
He does the vast majority of his racing in NSW. His rides are fairly equally divided between Rosehill, Randwick and Canterbury.
Clark arguably had his best year in 2017 – 2018, when he won three Group 1 races, but he has won one or more every season since 2016 – 2017.
Clark has won Group 1 races on Typhoon Zed, Sacred Choice, Atomic Force and Hot Danish. His biggest wins at the top level would be the All Aged Stakes and the Doomben 10,000.
Tim Clark’s ride in the Winx Stakes was a thing of beauty. The pair was on the speed from the jump to the post. Of course, Bjorn Baker deserves a large measure of credit for having Samadoubt well prepared, but guiding a horse that had never won above Listed level is certainly something Clark will never forget.
Congratulations to Tim Clark, the betsfree.com.au Jockey of the Month for August 2019.
Jockey Of The Month: July 2019 William Pike
Near the end, there were no compelling contests for the jockey premierships of Victoria or New South Wales.
Craig Williams in Victoria State and Metro was nearly 20 wins and over $3 million ahead of his closest pursuer, Damien Oliver.
Much the same is true for NSW, where Greg Ryan is far ahead of Andrew Gibbons, forty win’s wins worth, although Ryan’s prize money figure suggests he was beating the bush for the bulk of the 2018 – 2019 Australian Thoroughbred racing season.
When limiting our research to NSW metro tracks, James McDonald is 30 races ahead of Tommy Berry, even if his prize money pales by comparison to Kerrin McEvoy.
It might be something of a compromise, but we are taking William Pike as the bestsfree.com.au Jockey of the Month for July of 2019.
We recognised William Pike back in January, where the rough middle of the season saw him outworking every other and posting a strike rate of over 28 percent.
With the final two days of the current season remaining, Pike has continued to show up for work and while his strike rate has tapered slightly, down to 25.7 percent, he has shattered the wins in a season mark.
The eastern crowd might pooh-pooh Pike for doing the vast majority of his riding in Western Australia, but in a state where the prize money is well below that on offer in NSW and Victoria, he has managed to rake in over $10.2 million with his riding.
Pike still has some work remaining in the season with six rides booked for the final day of the season at Belmont and it would not surprise us in the least if he were to bring home three winners.
Next day, he has seven rides at Northam, so there is no lying about in his immediate future, as is the case with certain marquee jockeys whose career-making horse called time following the autumn carnivals.
By our count, this will be William Pike’s 10th Perth riding title. He held the mark for most wins in a season in 2016 – 2017, when he managed to get by with 197.5 winners.
There has only been one season over the past 10 when he has failed to deliver at least 100 winners.
Over the course of his career, William Pike has won five Group 1 races and while he seldom ventures far from or has considered moving away from Perth, he has had quite the career for a bloke that at one time was considering a future as an underground miner.
Congratulations to William Pike, the betsfree.com.au Jockey of the Month for July (and the year) 2019.
Jockey Of The Month: June 2019 Jason Collett
The betsfree.com.au Jockey of the Month for June 2019 belongs to Jason Collett.
He also receives the sub award, which we call the Being in the Right Place at the Right Time award.
Jason Collett was in the saddle when Invincibella won the 2019 Tatt’s Tiara after never riding her competitively since 2016, when Invincibella was still running below Group level.
Just as Invincibella is a working person’s horse, Jason Collett is a working person's jockey.
He has made 761 starts in the 2018 – 2019 Australian Thoroughbred racing season, which puts him nearer the top than the bottom of the list for that figure. Jason Collett currently sits 16th on the list of Australian jockeys for the season soon to conclude.
He has 96 wins, so we hope he can find four more, at least, before the season ends at the end of July. It should be no problem.
His prize money figure is closing in on $9 million.
Three wins from his last 10 starts is further evidence of a good month for the veteran of over 6,000 starts and over his last 100 races, he has posted a 19 percent win rate and a 50 percent win/place rate, so not only is he having a good June, the rest of the year has seen him jump over years past.
Trainers including Chris Waller, James Cummings and other notables have no qualms handing Collett the reins.
Four more wins in the last days of June would see him with his best month on the year, passing the 13 wins he recorded in March. It might seem a tall order, but he has a full book of rides upcoming at Kembla Grange and Rosehill.
He did run into a spot of bother when he won at Group 1 level for the first time in his career with the Tatt’s Tiara. The Queensland Stewards offered him a nine-day suspension that will undoubtedly affect his prospects for the rest of the year.
It seemed a bit harsh, given that all he did was raise his right arm in the arm in a triumphant gesture, but at least he was not dinged by the farcical whip rule.
He will begin his ban after his racing at Rosehill and will be back by July 9, so he will have three weeks to build his figures for the end of the season.
Congratulations to Jason Collett, the betsfree.com.au June 2019 Jockey of the Month.
Jockey Of The Month: May 2019 Raquel Clark
The 2018 – 2019 Australian Thoroughbred season is winding down. There are a few significant races in June, all but four taking place at Eagle Farm.
If we did an article for racetrack of the month, for June it would have to be Eagle Farm, but we have yet to be asked for content of that nature, so we will confine ourselves for the moment to selecting a betsfree.com.au Jockey of the Month for May 2019.
It would be easy to pick Michael Cahill, as he was aboard The Bostonian for Group 1 wins in the Doomben 10,000 and the Kingsford-Smith Cup at Eagle Farm, but it takes more than a couple wins, especially near the end of the season, to earn Jockey of the Month mention.
Since May was a big month for racing in South Australia, we went there to find our betsfree.com.au Jockey of the Month and we are pleased to announce that our selection is Raquel Clark.
She heads the table in nearly every category.
Jamie Kah makes the headlines but Raquel Clark heads the fields.
RaquelClark has 123 wins and 80 seconds to lead in those categories. She has outworked all the others, with 563 starts as of this writing and those who have followed this site for any length of time knows how much we value a rider who does the risky job of racing Thoroughbreds on a frequent basis.
Clark leads the money list with over $2.8 million, which is about $400,000 ahead of the number two Todd Pannell.
Her 21.80 percent strike rate does trail Kah’s by almost five percent, but Raquel Clark has taken over 250 more rides and as any mathematician will tell you, percentage invariable decreases as the number, in this case, number of rides, increases.
Raquel Clark is a relative newcomer, taking her first ride on Rueason in 2015, but she has made a steady progression and it would seem as though it is only a question of time before she notches her first Group 1 win.
Lacking that makes her career prize money haul of $6.7 million all the more impressive.
Clark’s abilities have landed her a stint in Singapore, where she will ride for about three weeks.
Trainer Tony McEvoy tipped her to do some riding for him at Morphettville recently and she rewarded his faith with a couple of wins, including the Listed Nitschke Stakes.
Congratulations to Raquel Clark, the bestfree.com.au Jockey of the Month for May 2019.
Jockey Of The Month: April 2019 Greg Ryan
We have pledged not to make Winx the betsfree.com.au Horse of the Month anymore, although she may in retirement be better than any left running. That is the view of her jockey Hugh Bowman.
In return for that promise, which was a gentle suggestion from the man at the top, we were permitted to name Jim Cassidy the bestfree.com.au Jockey of the Month for March 2019, based on his suggestion that he may once again put his boots in the irons.
For April, we took a much more mundane approach.
Since the Sydney autumn carnival concluded this month, we simply went to the tables to find Greg Ryan on the top, with a lead of 18 and-a-half wins over James McDonald.
Greg Ryan was our pick for Jockey of the Month in December of 2018 and he has done nothing in 2019 to diminish our opinion of him.
For the 2018 – 2019 Australian Thoroughbred racing season, he has rung up 125 wins and along with James McDonald (107 wins) and Andrew Gibbons (106) wins, he is in a select group of three hoops to have 100 or more wins for the season.
Ryan is well down the table in terms of money. That one belongs to big-time race rider Kerrin McEvoy. Ryan has not made the most starts. A bloke name of Grant Buckley claims that one.
What jumped out with regard to Ryan was his 24.7 percent strike rate.
Ryan leaves the paddock with your horse and comes back with saddle bags crammed with cash.
Greg Ryan consistently brings winners home. Last year he had 136 and with even average fortune over the last three months of the season, he should seem to be on pace to hit 150 wins.
He also enjoys the distinction of being one of the few jockeys to actually receive a penalty for violation of the farcical whip rules that seem to be enforced on a whimsical basis.
That happened back in December of 2018; although we are happy to point out that he was not our Jockey of the Month for that reason. He was leading the premiership table at that time.
It is doubtful that Greg Ryan can catch Western Australia ace William Pike, but some of the Thoroughbred racing cognoscenti will not be reluctant in the least to point out that there is some difference between racing in Sandgroper territory and New South Wales.
Congratulations to Greg Ryan, the betsfree.com.au Jockey of the Month for April 2019.
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 prize money.
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 prize money, 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 prize money, 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 prize money 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 prize money, 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 prize money.
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