The Top 10 Horse Jockeys Of All Time

10 Best Horse Jockeys Of All Time

Measuring a horse jockey’s success can be subjective, as there are different ways to determine who is the greatest horse jockey ever. Today we will examine the best horse jockeys of all time.

One way to rank famous horse jockeys is by considering the prize money they have won, as well as the quality and quantity of horse races they have won.

Additionally, career longevity, international success in big events, and memorable partnerships with famous racehorses can also be taken into account.

Best Horse Jockey in the History

Comparing jockeys from different eras, places, and riding styles can be challenging, but we will try to do so anyway. In this list, we will include honorable mentions for Eddie Arcaro, Javier Castellano, Pat Day, and Chris McCarron, and focus on the top 10 horse jockeys of all time.

1. Bill Shoemaker

Bill Shoemaker

Without question, Bill Shoemaker is the greatest horse jockey of all time. Bill Shoemaker, on the other hand, is quite likely the best horse jockey in history. He rode 11 US Triple Crown winners, but he never won all three in the same year.

Despite finishing third all-time among American Flat jockeys, Shoemaker had a lifetime strike rate of more than 21%. In other words, he won around one out of every five races he ever rode.

He topped the earnings chart ten times during his career, is a member of the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, and was champion US jockey five times in the 1950s.

Shoemaker went on to earn more than treble what he made riding as a racehorse trainer once he retired after 41 years of being a jockey.

  • Born: 08/10/1931
  • Died: 10/12/2003
  • Country: USA
  • Career Wins: 8,883
  • Earnings: $123,375,524 (jockey), $3,700,000+ (trainer)

2. Lester Piggott

Lester Piggott is among the most famous horse jockeys on our list because he not only had longevity and consistent success at the top in the UK and Ireland but also international success.

Piggott’s method of riding racehorses has subsequently been emulated. Over four decades, he paired many of Europe’s top Flat thoroughbreds, winning 30 British Classics, including the UK Triple Crown of the 2,000 Guineas, Epsom Derby, and St Leger with Nijinsky in 1970.

Piggott, an 11-time UK champion Flat rider, is even named after the British horse racing honors, the Lesters. He is also the most successful rider in Epsom Derby history, having won nine times.

Piggott has also won the Ascot Gold Cup (11 times), the Dewhurst Stakes (10 times), the July Cup (10 times), the Coronation Cup (nine times), and numerous other Group 1 events.

  • Born: 11/05/1935
  • Country: UK
  • Career Wins: 4,493
  • British Classic Wins: 30
  • Earnings: N/A

3. John R. Velazquez

John R. Velazquez

No rider on the earth can lay claim to having won more money than John Velazquez. The Puerto Rican native has earned over $415,000,000 throughout his career and counting. With almost 6,000 victories, Velazquez is still chasing a career Triple Crown in the United States.

With two wins in the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes, only the Preakness Stakes eludes him. Velazquez has topped the prize money lists in America twice and continues to be as consistent as ever.

Among his most notable equine mates are Kitten’s Joy and Scat Daddy, who have both had enormous effects on thoroughbred breeding as sires of great racehorses since going to stud.

  • Born: 11/24/1971
  • Country: Puerto Rico
  • Career Wins: 6,165
  • Breeders’ Cup Wins: 16
  • Earnings: $415,609,389

4. Sir Gordon Richards

Sir Gordon Richards

A 26-time champion must be included on any list of famous horse jockeys. Sir Gordon Richards accomplished this during his illustrious riding career. Richards set a record that may never be broken in the British Classics, despite not being as prolific as some of the other UK-based jockeys on our list.

Longevity and sustained success are also checked boxes in this situation. After retiring from riding, Richards became a superb racehorse trainer, and his son Nicky still operates stables near Penrith, on the outskirts of the Lake District.

Sun Chariot, a rare Triple Crown winner in the United Kingdom, and Tudor Minstrel are two of Richards’ most famous equestrian pairings from the 1940s.

  • Born: 05/05/1904
  • Died: 11/10/1986
  • Country: UK
  • Career Wins: 4,870
  • British Classic Wins: 14

5. Mike E. Smith

Mike E. Smith

As if it were required, proof that age is Mike Smith represents no impediment to achievement. In 2018, he and Justify won the US Triple Crown at the age of 52.

Despite being toward the conclusion of his career, it was the highlight. Smith is also connected with success at the Breeders’ Cup, having won 26 races at America’s top Flat thoroughbred contest.

Arrogate, another of Smith’s high-profile equine companions in a career that began in 1982, has won some of the wealthiest races in the world.

He has also broken the record for the most American Grade 1 victories in the saddle, overtaking honorable mention Jerry Bailey by the end of 2019.

  • Born: 08/10/1965
  • Country: USA
  • Career Wins: 5,559
  • Breeders’ Cup Wins: 26
  • Earnings: $328,329,509

6. Frankie Dettori

Frankie Dettori

Frankie is well renowned for his flying dismounts and his 20-year affiliation with Godolphin, the world’s largest thoroughbred racehorse enterprise. He served as Sheikh Mohammed’s rider for a long time.

Dettori has pretty much done it all in a career that spans decades. As a result, he has to be considered among the best horse jockeys of all time.

Frankie has ridden six victories of France’s most prestigious race, the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

Dettori’s associations with Stradivarius, Enable, Golden Horn, Authorized, Shamardal, Singspiel, and a slew of other Flat giants in Europe and beyond cement his place among great jockeys. Frankie has even won the UK Flat jockey championship three times.

  • Born: 12/15/1970
  • Country: Italy
  • Career Wins: 3,000+
  • Grade/Group 1 Wins: Over 250
  • Earnings: £155,000,000+

7. Laffit Pincay, Jr

Laffit Pincay, Jr

Laffit Pincay, Jr. is the second most successful jockey in American history. He was a seven-time prize money champion jockey in the United States, dominating the sport in the early 1970s and riding the most winners in 1971.

Pincay Jr. and Affirmed won the US Triple Crown in 1978. He began riding in his native Panama before making it big in America, and he is a sure-fire Hall of Famer.

Pincay Jr. retired as the most successful jockey in terms of winners, with 9.530 lifetime victories. Only Baze has surpassed him since, so he had to be included in this list of the top horse jockeys of all time.

  • Born: 12/29/1946
  • Country: Panama
  • Career Wins: 9,530
  • Breeders’ Cup Wins: 7
  • Earnings: $237,120,625

8. Sir Tony McCoy

Sir Tony McCoy

McCoy’s ambition and determination to win were unrivaled as a record 20-time British champion jumps jockey in consecutive years.

In 2001-02, he set a new record for the most National Hunt winners in a single season in the United Kingdom. In that spectacular campaign, McCoy led 289 bikes to the finish line first.

He became a retained rider for big Irish owner JP McManus after being most known for his affiliation with trainer Martin Pipe. This provided McCoy with a slew of big rides, but he still preferred quantity above quality.

This man has ridden more winners in British horse racing history than any other jumps jockey. McCoy’s most renowned equine partnerships include Brave Inca, Binocular, and Don’t Push It, the Grand National winner in 2010.

  • Born: 05/04/1975
  • Country: Republic of Ireland
  • Career Wins: 4,358
  • Grade/Group 1 Wins: 105
  • Earnings: £40,000,000+

9. Russell Baze

Russell Baze

Russell Baze may not be as well-known as some of the other jockeys on our list, but no professional horse rider can claim to have won more races.

He has nearly 13,000 winning rides with a strike rate of nearly 25%. Baze has teamed to victory on nearly one out of every four racehorses he has sat on in his career.

It’s an amazing accomplishment, and while he doesn’t have any important wins in US Triple Crown or Breeders’ Cup races on his resume, he deserves to be on this list.

Born in Canada to an American family, Baze is a 10-time American champion jockey by most winners. Lost in the Fog, the US champion sprinter from 2005, is perhaps his most famous equine partner.

  • Born: 08/07/1958
  • Country: Canada
  • Career Wins: 12,842
  • Earnings: $199,334,219

10. Ruby Walsh

Ruby Walsh

Ending the list of the greatest horse jockeys of all time is Ruby Walsh, a 12-time Irish champion jumps jockey who retired from the saddle in 2019 as the rider with the most Cheltenham Festival victories.

He was also the top jockey at the Festival 11 times, thanks to 59 race victories at the flagship event of British Isles National Hunt horse racing. Walsh is well recognized for his lengthy working relationships with champion trainers Paul Nicholls in the United Kingdom and Willie Mullins in Ireland.

Hurricane Fly and Kauto Star are two of his memorable racing mates. To rousing applause, these horses reclaimed the Champion Hurdle and the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Ruby partnered with two Grand National winners – Papillon for his father Ted Walsh in 2000 on his first-ever ride over the Aintree fences, and Hedgehunter for Mullins in 2005.

  • Born: 05/14/1979
  • Country: Republic of Ireland
  • Career Wins: 2,770+
  • Grade/Group 1 Wins: 213
  • Earnings: €24,000,000+

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