Punters tend to have strong opinions on apprentice jockeys, whether assessing them as a group or as individual hoops.
Some love them, others will never back them.
So today we’ll look at how apprentices fared on metropolitan tracks for the last two seasons. We’ll narrow it down to horses that were under 10/1 because that is where most punters money goes and also so that longshots and no-hopers don’t distort the results.
There really wasn’t much of a difference between the profitability of senior jockeys compared to claiming apprentices. So as a very general rule you shouldn’t be giving a big bonus or penalty when a claimer is riding. And don’t blindly believe that a horse is ‘in well at the weights’ with a 3kg claimer on. That allowance is there to offset the jockey’s inexperience.
Now we will narrow it down to focus on claiming apprentices only:
It’s interesting that what you’d expect to be the easiest track condition to ride on (Good) was the least profitable for claiming apprentices. And that on Heavy tracks, when decision making is seen to be more important, inexperienced riders had a very good record. A possible explanation here is that weight relief on the heavy going was very valuable, but I’d be more confident of this conclusion if their slow track record was better.
There was a very similar performance across all states, with the exception of NSW where claiming apprentices did well.
Some well known names feature there on both sides of the ledger, but just bear in mind those figures above relate to their record as claiming apprentices. Some have already outridden their claim and their record since then is excluded.
The spotlight of riding the punters elect and being the focus of all other jockeys during the race can make even senior hoops nervous, so it’s probably not surprising that claiming apprentices struggle. The differential is quite stark so it’s something to be wary of next time you’re considering backing a favourite with an inexperienced rider on board.
A few other pointers to finish with:
- Spotting a promising apprentice (or even a hopeless one) early in their career can give you a good edge before the market catches up
- Many apprentices have difficulty judging pace so be wary of backing them on the likely leader
- The ‘weight doesn’t matter’ proponents haven’t been able to explain why so many jockeys ride more winners as 3 kg claimers compared to when they come out of their time
- Assessing apprentices is just one small aspect of form analysis and we always recommend a comprehensive approach before outlaying your hard earned