Why do Jockeys ride to instruction?
Well this is an easy one to answer, because if they don’t, they won’t get any more rides. The racing world is very small and the last thing a jockey wants is a reputation of not doing what he has been told.
Some trainers know what they are doing and some really don’t have a clue. Which can also be said for Jockeys.
There are many reasons for giving instructions to the jockey, this could be front running over a certain distance on a specific going condition. E.g. 3 miles on heavy going, or 2 miles on good to firm going or it could be down to the horses personality, perhaps they know the horse needs to settle in the pack before taking up the running.
A trainer may want to know if he is more suited to a left handed track or right handed, is the horse is getting easily distracted, is his mind on the job?, do they want to race?, we have seen horses jink in the last furlong time after time when they spot the exit to the stables, are they tired? Are they lazy? Do they not want to run anymore? Are they in pain? Do they need blinkers? hood fitted? are they struggling to breathe?, do they need a wind operation or tongue strap?. Do they jump well in a crowd of horses? are they suited to fences rather than hurdles, Should the horse be coming off the pace or front running?, All this can be fed back to the trainer in the debrief from the jockey following the race.
Is the trainer trying to improve the horse’s handicap rating? There are so many reasons and the trick is to know how a horse is likely to run.
One trap a punter falls into is following top jockeys, I have seen many times top jockeys going to a meeting for one ride and trailing in last. What the trainer is after is the race debrief as he has no idea how the horse will run, such as, he’s carrying too much weight, he needs a shorter trip, he doesn’t act on the ground etc.
Only a few days ago, I spotted a horse that McCoy rode last time out, this time he had a 7lb claimer on board and the trip was shorter, McCoy was riding the favourite and was beaten by the claimer, proving having an experienced jockey on board doesn’t always mean they are going to win, the trainer is after the knowledge and experience which will give the horse a better chance the next time out.
What we are all interested in is, are the instructions given by the trainer to the jockey to win the race?, it’s probably not a surprise but on many occasions a horse will not win the race as long as he’s got 4 legs. This is either the horse hasn’t the ability or the trainer doesn’t want him to win.
A common instructions is if you can’t win don’t try, how many times have we seen jockeys press the button and then when the horse doesn’t pick up and the chance has gone, they drop their hands and finish out the placing’s.
Surely not, after all what is the point of running in a race if you’re not trying to win. Well it comes down to the root of all evil, Money?
Some trainers can’t survive without a big price winning gamble, after all if they are a small yard, training fees on a handful of horses don’t go very far. So the only way to survive is having it off with an outsider.
There is also the kudos of winning a hot handicap so the horse does the minimum to enter has a few trips and boom beats the odds on favourite at a price of 20-1. The added benefit is doing this in front of a crowd and on trainer showcase day widely known as Saturday while the world and TV cameras are watching. Is to say look what I can do, one way of getting more horses into their yard.
So to wind up, the jockey maybe good, but it’s all starts with the trainer.
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