Just like it’s hard to compare horses from different generations, it’s hard to know which jockey is the best of all time. I’m not old enough to remember the amazing feats of 26-times Champion Flat Jockey Gordon Richards, who rode an amazing 269 winners in the 1947 season, or the likes of Nat Flatman, George Fordham and Fred Archer – but, whilst these amazing jockeys don’t make my top-jockey list, I thought they deserved a mention.
Top 7 Flat Jockeys
Piggott rode an amazing 30 English Classics winners, including nine Derby winners. He was champion jockey 11 times, winning a total of 4,493 flat races in Britain. Trainers Noel Murless and Vincent O’Brien provided him with the ammunition for much of his success, with famous winners including Alleged, Sir Ivor, Nijinsky and Crepello. Not many people know this, but he also rode 20 winners over hurdles.
The Kentucky Kid took the American racing world by storm as a 17-year-old, and continued to do so as he won countless top-races, millions of dollars in prize money, the 1977 title of Sportsman of the Year in America, and the American Triple Crown on Affirmed. Then, as quickly as he had rose to stardom, 110 straight losers sent him spiralling back to earth. At this point, he decided to come to Britain where he was Champion Jockey 3 times, winning 10 British Classics, including the Derby winners Slip Anchor and Reference Point. He was, in most people’s opinion, the best judge of pace ever to grace a racetrack.
The great man, sadly, recently passed away, but his tally of 4,632 British winners remains second behind Sir Gordon Richards’ tally in the all-time standings. He was champion 11 times, and won the Derby three times, on Grundy (1975), Golden Fleece (1982) and Quest For Fame (1990). They were part of his tally of 14 English Classics, and he also won 11 Irish Classics. His most memorable moment in the saddle was the late-run he conjured from Dancing Brave to win the 1986 Arc de Triomphe.
No jockey has endeared themselves to the public as much as Frankie, and it’s hard to believe that it’s nearly 20 years since his magnificent-7 at Ascot. He recently added to his haul of classic wins with Galileo Gold in the 2016 2,000 Guineas, whilst he has won 5 St Legers.
Controversy may have overshadowed Fallon’s brilliance in the saddle on more than one occasion, but that hasn’t stopped him winning six jockey titles, and 15 Classics. He won the Derby three-times for Michael Stoute, though the most talented horse he was probably associated with was Ouija Board.
Kinane had a fantastic knack of having a horse in the right place at the right time, which is why won 10 British Classics. He was associated with two of the biggest names in racing in current top-stallion Galileo and the brilliant Sea The Stars, with the latter providing him with the last of his 3 Derby winners and last of three Arc de Triomphe winners.
In a few-years, Moore may well deserve to jump up this list. For many trainers, he’s the go-to man for the big occasion, which is why he’s won the 2,000 Guineas, two 1,000 Guineas, two Derbys, an Arc de Triomphe and a Melbourne Cup. However, mainly due to injury, he’s only been crowned Champion Jockey 3 times so far, and has never ridden over 200 winners in a season. But, at the age of 32, he’s likely to achieve much more success before he retires.