Things are maybe going to get interesting in the jump’s jockeys championship this year.
In the AP McCoy era McCoy would always be streets ahead of his rivals by this stage of the season, having built up a comfortable buffer before the season proper is even thinking about getting underway. Upon retirement Dickie Johnson stepped in and did exactly the same, firing in a gut-full of winners during the summer months and leaving the others with an uphill battle before the proper stuff had even started.
This year, however, things are looking slightly different (and only slightly) because Harry Skelton sits at the top of the standings with 85 winners (as of 22-09-18). Johnson, however, is stalking him in second place with 77 winners…and he’s been reeling him in bit by bit over the past month or so. Skelton did have a much healthier lead than the current eight but Johnson has chipped away at it and now has him firmly in his sights.
As always a lot of it comes down to numbers, specifically number of rides, mixed in with getting on the best/right horses. That’s essentially how the jockey’s championship is won. Johnson has already had 90 more rides than Skelton this season. At close of play last season Johnson had been given the leg up on almost 300 more rides (yes, THREE-HUNDRED) than Skelton. I mean you just can’t compete with that. That’s an almost impossible task for Skelton. But fair play to him, he’s given it a bash. (I don’t know if he’s seriously giving it a bash but it must be in his mind somewhere).
Anyway, that’s by the bye as it’s not the top end I want to concentrate on here, it’s the up-and-coming end (is that an end?!?). Those guys currently working their way up the ladder. Those youngsters that can only dream of firing in 100+ winners a season (or 75+ before October in the case of a McCoy/Johnson!). The ones that are trying to replicate the McCoy, Johnson, Coleman, Twiston-Davies, Walsh, Geraghty blueprint and get themselves noticed by the top yards so that one day they can gun for the jockey’s title.
Those are the guys I want to concentrate on and today’s post highlights three ‘unexposed’ jockeys who I think can make a big impact in forthcoming seasons.
Spotting a jockey at the start of their career can be a profitable pastime. Especially if you think that jockey is well worth his claim. The wider betting public will often be put off, rightly or wrongly, by a jockey they don’t know or are not overly familiar with. The upside of that for us shrewd punters is that the horse being ridden by the young jockey we earmarked will often go off at a couple points higher than it should; giving us that wonderful position of a value price.
So, which three young jockeys have caught my eye?
Current claim – 7lbs
Attached to the Ian Williams yard
Overall figures (since start of 2015) – 7/45 | 16% S/R | +£56.66 BFLSP – Win & Place 16/45 | 36% S/R
It’s no secret that Ian Williams has had an outstanding summer, both on the flat and over jumps. When it comes to the jumping game his number one National Hunt jockey Tom O’Brien has been the main beneficiary, but young Edward Austin has also got himself in on the action and that really seems to have kicked his career into action.
Austin only managed to pick up 18 rides during the 2017/18 NH season, resulting in one victory and four further placed efforts, but this season alone he’s already been legged up 28 times and found himself in the winners’ enclosure on six occasions (four times for Ian Williams) and placing five times, giving seasonal stats of…
6/28 | 21% S/R | +£67.38 BFLSP – W&P 11/28 | 39% S/R
It’s still very early days in the career of Austin but he caught my eye a few times this past summer as he produces his mounts at their flights in an extremely neat fashion and he also appears to be a jockey with a cool and composed head on his shoulders, happy to sit and settle his horses out the back or just off the pace.
So much so, and again it’s very early days for him, that in his 45 rides so far he’s yet to set the pace on any of them. Even more striking is the fact that six of his seven winners have come from the hold-up position.
Take a look at his splits…
Front-Runners – N/A
Close-to-Pace – 1/20 | 5% S/R | -£15.29 BFLSP – W&P 8/20 | 40% S/R
Hold-Up – 6/25 | 24% S/R | +£73.96 BFLSP – W&P 8/25 | 32% S/R
Jamie Spencer over jumps anyone?!
I’m very much a front-runner lover but I can certainly appreciate a jockey who can get it done from out the back. It’s much trickier to get the fractions right sitting switched off at the back but so far Austin looks to be a potential master of that skill.
The stats are, so far, limited when it comes to Austin but I like what I’ve seen to date and it’ll be interesting to see how he fares once he starts picking up a few more outside rides.
Let’s face it, if there are any yards after a 7lb claimer to ride one of their runners that needs settled quietly out the back then they could do far worse than give Edward Austin a call (or his agent).
Current claim – 5lbs
Attached to the Lucy Wadham yard
Overall figures (since start of 2017) – 9/35 | 26% S/R | +£25.58 BFLSP – Win & Place 17/35 | 49% S/R
At the minute Tissier is probably most ‘famous’ for riding a finish a circuit too soon at Fakenham back in April. There is, however, much more to the jockey than that and his partnership with Lucy Wadham has so far proved to be rather fruitful.
The Frenchman came to the Wadham yard with 14 winners to his name in his native France and wasted no time in putting that experience to good use, taking only two rides to open his UK account with a well-judged front-running ride at Fakenham, something that instantly brought him to my attention.
Indeed, his record with horses off the front-end/close to the pace is something that regularly caught my eye last season/start of this season…
Front-Runners – 4/6 | 67% S/R | +£30.61 BFLSP – W&P 5/6 | 83% S/R
Close-to-Pace – 4/17 | 24% S/R | -£3.54 BFLSP – W&P 8/17 | 47% S/R
Held-Up – 1/12 | 8% S/R | -£1.50 BFLSP – W&P 4/12 | 33% S/R
With only 1 of his 6 front-running rides failing to place he’s certainly a jockey I’ll be keeping a close eye on when he goes from the front. (again, it’s very limited figures but the early signs are positive).
The other angle that has caught my eye for the Frenchman is his ability to handle the ‘pressure’ of being on a horse at the head of the betting.
So far nine of his rides have started first or second in the betting and they’ve returned the following figures…
112111131 (7/9 | 78% S/R | +£13.97 BFLSP – W&P 8/9 | 89% S/R)
He’s obviously a jockey who doesn’t feel the pressure of being on a horse that is fancied in the market, which is always a positive sign.
He’s surprisingly had no rides out with the Wadham yard to date but hopefully that changes this season as he looks to have plenty to offer in the National Hunt sphere.
Current claim – 5lbs
Attached to the Seamus Mullins yard
Overall figures (since start of 2014) – 30/256 | 12% S/R | +£309.77 BFLSP – Win & Place 68/256 | 27% S/R
Sansom has been around for a couple of years but his stats have really picked up this season and something really seems to have clicked with him since we moved into the 2018/19 National Hunt season.
Take a look at his seasonal splits…
2013/14 – 0/1 | 0/% S/R | -£1.00 BFLSP – W&P 0/1 | 0% S/R
2014/15 – 0/6 | 0% S/R | -£6.00 BFLSP – W&P 0/6 | 0% S/R
2015/16 – 0/15 | 0% S/R | -£15.00 BFLSP – W&P 2/15 | 3% S/R
2016/17 – 7/66 | 11% S/R | +£184.88 BFLSP – W&P 15/66 | 23% S/R
2017/18 – 14/128 | 11% S/R | -£42.67 BFLSP – W&P 38/128 | 30% S/R
2018/19 – 10/43 | 23% S/R | +£192.69 BFLSP – W&P 15/43 | 35% S/R
At the time of writing he is only four winners away from equally his tally from last season and it would be somewhat of a surprise should he not smash through his previous best total and set a much loftier benchmark by seasons end.
On the stats front two things catch my eye…
Firstly is the fact that Sansom looks some way more at home over Hurdles than he does over fences…
Hurdles – 26/188 | 14% S/R | +£185.80 BFLSP – W&P 59/188 | 31% S/R – 45% above expectation
Chase – 2/42 | 5% S/R | -£20.43 BFLSP – W&P 5/42 | 12% S/R – 54% below expectation
Yes, he’s had a fair bit more experience over hurdles but nevertheless the strike-rates and expected winners’ figures, even on the win & place side, show a distinct preference for timber over birch. That may change with time but for now it’s the smaller obstacles where he’s cutting the most mustard.
Secondly is the fact he’s another up-and-coming jockey who, like Edward Austin, is a bit of a demon when holding horses up out the back…
Front-Runners – 0/6 | 0% S/R | -£6.00 BFLSP – W&P 1/6 | 17% S/R – N/A (expectation)
Close-to-Pace – 6/71 | 8.5% S/R | -£42.45 BFLSP – W&P 16/71 | 23% S/R – 25% below expectation
Held-Up – 24/177 | 13.5% S/R | +£360.22 BFLSP – W&P 51/177 | 29% S/R – 59% above expectation
The fact he has only tried to go from the front on six of his 256 rides is pretty remarkable as far as I’m concerned but fair play to him, he gets it done plenty enough from out the back and is winning a fair bit more than the market expectation. He’s another of those youngsters that is more than comfortable to sit out the back and bide his time before committing his mount. Again, the stats say this is far from an easy task so his figures on hold-up horses are extremely note-worthy.
Sansom looks to really have the bit between his teeth this season and I’d be disappointed should he not end the season with a hefty seasonal best tally.
These three ‘unexposed’ talents all look on a serious upward curve and if given enough firepower this term then it’s not hard to see them bagging themselves a plentiful supply of winners, as they make their way up through the jockey ranks.
Usually I wouldn’t expect the jockeys highlighted in this post to be making much of a splash at the major meetings until a couple seasons down the line but this trio could be different, especially Sansom, who already has a Scottish Champion Hurdle victory on his CV (Chesterfield – 2017 renewal).
What do you guys think?
Have any young jockeys out with the top echelon captured your attention?
Which claiming jockey do you think will make the biggest splash this term?
I’d love to hear your thoughts and opinions below…
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*Majority of stats sourced from the Proform Professional database