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    The Top Five Accomplished Jockeys in British Horse Racing
The Top Five Accomplished Jockeys in British Horse Racing
Sir Gordon Richards. Source: BBC

The Top Five Accomplished Jockeys in British Horse Racing

The life of a jockey is far from simple. It involves enduring lengthy days, facing the possibility of getting injured, constantly struggling with weight management, and being part of an intensely competitive setting, all of which contribute to a challenging career path.

However, those who manage to reach the pinnacle of their profession, are rewarded with fame, wealth, and the opportunity to mingle with influential and glamorous individuals.

Let’s observe the list of the top five accomplished jockeys in British horse racing.

Sir Gordon Richards

Gordon Richards, widely regarded as the greatest jockey in history, achieved an impressive feat by winning 4,870 races from 1921 to 1954. He dominated the flat jockeys' championship, securing the title 26 times.

Following his second championship victory in 1931, Richards formed a successful partnership with trainer Fred Darling, resulting in the breaking of numerous longstanding records.

In October 1933, Richards achieved an extraordinary accomplishment by winning 12 consecutive races. Notably, he triumphed in all six races at Chepstow and followed it up by winning the first five races on the same course the next day. This outstanding record has endured for almost 90 years and remains unbroken.

As a testament to his exceptional career, Richards is the sole flat jockey to have been knighted, a distinction that sets him apart from all others.

Lester Piggott. Source: Racing Post
Lester Piggott. Source: Racing Post

Lester Piggott

Lester Piggott, who was born in Berkshire, is a sportsman who goes beyond the boundaries of his sport and has gained widespread recognition. He is well-known for his impressive achievements in horse racing, having secured 30 British Classic victories, including a monumental nine wins in the Derby.

Throughout his extensive career spanning from 1948 to 1994, Piggott achieved a total of 4,493 victories as a jockey. He also obtained 11 Flat jockeys' titles from 1960 to 1982.

Although he retired in 1985, Piggott made a comeback in 1990 at the age of 55 and quickly demonstrated his skill by winning the Breeders' Cup Mile on Royal Academy within just ten days.

Piggott stood out among jockeys due to his uncommon height of 5 feet 8 inches and initially began his career in hurdle racing. He acquired the nickname "The Long Fellow" as a result.

Known for his fierce competitiveness both on horseback and in negotiating for rides, Piggott pioneered a distinctive riding style that was later emulated by many of his peers.

Sir Anthony McCoy

Anthony "AP" McCoy, undoubtedly the most successful jump jockey in history, secured his initial jockey championship in 1996 and maintained his position as the champion jump jockey until he retired in 2015.

In 1997, McCoy assumed the role of stable jockey for esteemed trainer Martin Pipe, and in 2001, he surpassed Gordon Richards' long-standing record for the highest number of victories in a single season, a record that had stood for 51 years.

During 2004, McCoy formed a partnership with influential owner JP McManus, resulting in numerous significant triumphs, notably his victory in the 2010 Grand National aboard Don't Push It, a race that had previously eluded him. This achievement played a pivotal role in his selection as the BBC Sports Personality of the Year in December 2010.

McCoy concluded his career with an unmatched tally of 4,358 victories, a notable accomplishment that is unlikely to be replicated, which encompassed 31 wins at the esteemed Cheltenham Festival.

Pat Eddery. Source: The Independent
Pat Eddery. Source: The Independent

Pat Eddery

Born into a prominent racing family in County Kildare, Pat Eddery enjoyed a remarkable career that lasted for five decades. Throughout his illustrious tenure, he achieved the impressive feat of riding 4,493 winners, which included three victories in the Derby, Oaks, and 2,000 Guineas.

In Britain, Eddery secured the title of champion jockey unprecedented eleven times, making him the youngest English champion since the end of World War II—a record that remains unbroken to this day. His success extended beyond national borders, as he claimed several prestigious international accolades such as the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe on four occasions, the Japan Cup, the Arlington Million, and numerous triumphs in the Breeders Cup.

Consistency was a hallmark of Eddery's career, as he achieved the feat of riding at least 100 winners every year, except for one, from 1973 to 2001. Even in his penultimate year in the saddle, 2022, he notched up an impressive tally of 99 victories.

Frankie Dettori

While his overall number of victories falls short compared to other individuals on this roster, none have captivated the public's fascination quite like Frankie Dettori. This Italian jockey, who has claimed more than 500 Group races, was already a familiar figure before his extraordinary achievement of riding all seven winners at Ascot in September 1996. However, his noteworthy accomplishment, known as the "Magnificent Seven," propelled him into the spotlight. In the following years, Dettori's fame soared as he assumed various high-profile roles, such as hosting Top of the Pops, appearing as a guest on This Is Your Life and TFI Friday, and becoming a team captain on Question of Sport.


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