Backing Jockeys – A Bookies Benefit?

Guest post by David Renham from Racing Trends

This week I am going to look at an area of racing I rarely look into …… multiple betting on jockeys.

Most punters out there will appreciate that backing jockeys “blind” is almost always the way to the poor house. To help illustrate my point, below is a table showing the top 20 jockeys in terms of wins over a recent four year period. The profit/loss figures are based on £1 level stakes on all mounts.

Jockey Winners Runners Strike rate Profit / loss ROI
J Spencer 693 3906 17.7% -£475.01 -12.2%
R Moore 622 3901 15.9% -£604.24 -15.5%
N Callan 594 4269 13.9% -£341.36 -8%
S Sanders 580 3766 15.4% -£488.11 -13%
R Hughes 505 3376 15% -£368.72 -10.9%
E Ahern 434 3986 10.9% -£1139.16 -28.6%
C Catlin 423 5074 8.3% -£1583.72 -31.2%
D O’Neill 380 3728 10.2% -£812.20 -21.8%
P Hanagan 373 3652 10.2% – £945.61 -25.9%
J Fortune 370 2734 13.5% -£579.27 -21.2%
L Dettori 362 1865 19.4% -£399.63 -21.4%
S Drowne 355 3854 9.2% -£1212.53 -31.5%
J Fanning 338 2880 11.7% -£701.61 -24.4%
G Baker 331 2396 13.8% +£24.69 +1%
R Winston 331 2558 12.9% -£287.44 -11.2%
J Egan 324 3052 10.6% -£292.71 -9.6%
M Dwyer 306 2892 10.6% -£453.79 -15.7%
T Durcan 302 2897 10.4% -£735.73 -25.4%
J Quinn 301 3736 8.1% -£1126.52 -30.2%
D Holland 296 2751 10.8% -£666.68 -24.2%

Of the 20 top jockeys, 19 showed a loss. Just George Baker managed to show a profit and that was only a 1% profit. Indeed, 11 of the 20 suffered losses in excess of 20%, including a certain Frankie Dettori; 3 jockeys suffered losses in excess of 30%.

Of course, despite these figures, some punters will point you to the 28th September 1996 and the memorable day Franke Dettori rode seven winners at Ascot from his seven rides. For the record, his winners that day were:


Now, on this day, the bookmakers took a severe caning – even more so if punters took early prices, as for example the last winner Fujiyama Crest was an early price 12/1 before being backed into 2/1. Of course the reason for the cut in price, was not volume of late on-course money, it was down to the potential massive liabilities the bookmakers had on this runner. The reasons for such liabilities were down to the numerous armchair punters who had combined Dettori’s mounts in multiple bets (doubles, trebles, fourfolds, etc). To give you a better example of how well some punters did, consider the following returns if you had combined Dettori’s seven mounts a sevenfold win accumulator – a £1 win bet would have returned an amazing £25,096.00 – yes just over 25 grand for a quid! Now not many punters would have had all 7 in one accumulator, but you can bet that several hundred perhaps did a Yankee or a lucky 15. Anyone having a £1 yankee (outlay £11) on Dettori’s first four rides would have made a tidy profit of just over £2647.

It was estimated that the bookmakers lost around £30 million on these 7 winners, but the purpose of this article is to actually show you that this type of multiple betting on your favourite jockey is really not a good idea in the long run. That day was a freak event and Dettori, or any other jockey for that matter, has not got close to repeating that sort of feat since.

Let me focus on Frankie Dettori as he is still the most famous jockey in the country, and arguably the one that numerous armchair punters will have numerous multiple bets a day on his rides. For the remainder of this article, I have used 9 years of data and looked at the meetings where Dettori had exactly three rides. The reason for this was essentially for ease of working out – working out returns on 3 rides per meeting takes a lot less time than 6 rides for example. With 3 rides, I wanted to work out the returns on win singles, win doubles (3 per meeting) and win trebles (1 per meeting). There were 208 meetings during this period where Dettori had exactly 3 rides.

Firstly let us look at what would have happened if you had backed all Dettori’s mounts in £1 level stakes win singles:

Winners Runners Strike rate Profit / loss ROI
133 624 21.3% -£97.48 -15.6%

The results show a loss of around 15 pence in the £. These are pretty standard returns.

Moving onto win doubles – he had 31 winning doubles (so around 1 meeting in 7 he landed a successful double). Backing all 3 doubles at the 208 meetings would have produced the following results:

Winning doubles No. of doubles Strike rate Profit / loss ROI
31 624 5% -£302.30 -48.4%

OUCH! Losses of over 48 pence in the £ does not make good reading. The big problem with doubles is that the prices can make such a difference. Let me try and illustrate what I mean:

Imagine two win doubles that contained four winning horses; two on one day, two on the next – the winners being priced 7/1, 9/1, 7/4 and Evens. Let us assume that the winners on day 1 were at 7/1 and 9/1, and the winners on day 2 were at 7/4 and Evens. If you had placed a £1 win double on both days / bets you would have made a profit of £83.50. If however, the prices on day 1 were 9/1 and Evens, and on day 2 were 7/1 and 7/4 the profit would have been much less at £40.00 – less than half the profit had the prices been the other way round. For win singles, the order of the four winning selections would make no difference; however for win doubles the position of the winning prices can make a huge difference as you can see. Hence, I would argue that luck can play a massive part in the betting process if you are backing horses in multiples. In my example above, you could have been lucky and made £83.50, or been very unlucky making just £40.00.

Now, many of Dettori’s winners were at short prices and hence even winning doubles do not tend to produce big returns. Indeed 22 of his 31 winning doubles paid less than 10/1 – his worst return coming from a winning double with prices of 1/12 (12/1 on!!!) and 2/5 (5/2 on) – this paid out at around 1/2 (2/1 on). Hence knowing this, it perhaps makes it easier to understand why this type of betting regularly fails, and why bookmakers encourage multiple betting.

Moving on the results for Dettori win trebles, we can see that he had just 2 winning trebles from the 208 meetings. Backing all 208 trebles (£1 per bet) would have produced the following results:

Winning trebles No. of trebles Strike rate Profit / loss ROI
2 208 0.96% -£137.24 -66%

Treble OUCH!! Losses of 66% make sorry reading – ok, one could argue that 2 or 3 more trebles would have nudged him into profit (dependent on prices), but the fact of the matter is that using the theory of probability, he hit the number of winning trebles you would have expected with his overall win single strike rate of 21.3%. The expected strike rate using probability theory comes to 0.97% – virtually the same as the one that was achieved in reality (0.96%).

The idea of multiple betting appeals to many people – the reason is simple – potentially big returns for small stakes. However, as the latter part of this article indicates, the chances of winning vast sums of money with multiple bets is not very likely. This is not to say that all other jockeys would have all produced similar losses – however the sad fact is that the vast majority of them would have done.

Dave Renham is a leading uk horse racing researcher. He has worked in the past for the RacingPost and the Racing and Football Outlook newspaper. His own website at is a great spot for finding out about profitable angles for your UK horse racing betting.

Michael Wilding

Michael started the Race Advisor in 2009 to help bettors become long-term profitable. After writing hundreds of articles I started to build software that contained my personal ratings. The Race Advisor has more factors for UK horse racing than any other site, and we pride ourselves on creating tools and strategies that are unique, and allow you to make a long-term profit without the need for tipsters. You can also check out my personal blog or my personal Instagram account.

One Comment

  1. I would just like to give a special thank you to LUKE MORRIS for helping me give up gambling. Luke cemented my trust in Jockeys’ with his ride on EYE OF ETERNITY on 8th July 2010. How he lost this race i dont know. After making all the running on the horse, he decided to leave a gap on the rails after the last bend to leave enough room for the eventual winner to come through. Its mind boggling stuff really. Thanks again Luke. I would also like to thank Jamie Spence and Richard Hughes for all their wonderful losing rides which also helped me up gambling. Thanks again lads.

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