The Best Jockeys of All Time

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Measuring the success of jockeys can be subjective but also challenging. With all the different types of horse racing across the globe and a lot of incredible wins to choose from, deciding on who wins the title of the best jockey of all time will be down to you.

Don’t worry we’ve made it easier for you by creating a shortlist of who we believe to be the best jockeys of all time. And what better place to start than with ‘the housewives’ favorite’ Lester Piggott.

Lester Piggott

Piggot was born in 1935 and boosted 4,400 wins to his name. Piggot can claim many accolades including taking the titles of British flat racing Champion Jockey 11 times, winning the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and the Epsom Derby 9 times.

Piggot ended his career as a freelancer. Wins included: the Prix de Diane for Andre Fabre aboard Lypharita; the Benson and Hedges Gold Cup; the 2000 Guineas for Michael Stoute with a horse named Shadeed; and Irish Champion Stakes for Luca Cumani with favorite Commanche Run.

Known as ‘the housewives’ favourite’ because of his good looks, Piggot was also quite tall for a jockey standing at 5ft 8in.

Moving on from an English legend to the American superstar Bill Shoemaker.

Bill Shoemaker

He was regarded in America as the most outstanding jockey ever. Bill accumulated 8,883 race wins during his 41-year career. For almost 29 years he held the world record for all professional jockey victories.

Fondly known as ‘The Shoe”, it has been estimated that he won a massive £133 million as a jockey and a further £4.7 million as a trainer – but that’s not all – after a car accident in 1991 Shoemaker went on to write three murder mystery novels. A man of many talents.

Shoemaker was loved by the ladies and his height of 4ft 10inches earned him the nickname ‘pocket rocket’ – a name bestowed on him by the actress Jayne Mansfield.

AP McCoy

AP McCoy, or Sir Anthony Peter McCoy, is a Northern Irish horse racing jockey and legend – now retired. Living in Ireland and the UK, McCoy has many accolades to his name including Knight Bachelor, BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2010 and RTÉ Sports Person of the Year 2013

McCoy rode a record 4,358 winners and in 2016 was knighted in the New Year Honours for services to horse racing.

McCoy is taller than most jockeys at 5ft 10, and a mere 10 stone in weight. McCoy is said to be the accountant’s and the book maker’s favorite jockey by far.

Ruby Walsh

The Cheltenham boy, Ruby Walsh is regarded as one the greatest jockeys of all time amongst fans in the UK and Ireland. Born in 1979 in Ireland, Walsh is the son of the former amateur jockey Ted Walsh.

Walsh was the leading jockey at the Cheltenham Festival for eleven years and the Irish National Hunt champion jockey for twelve years as well as the recipient of the Horse Racing Ireland National Hunt award for five consecutive years. Walsh continued to dominate the world of horse racing until his retirement in 2019.

Clearly, horse racing runs in the blood with this family, as his sister Katie Walsh is currently one of the top female jockeys racing today as his brother Ted Walsh Junior. The latter is also married to female jockey Nina Carberry. Now that is what I call a family of jockeys.

So far we’ve looked at jockeys from America, Ireland and the UK. Now it is time to introduce Frankie Dettori – the Italian jockey who brings European style and grace to the sport.

Frankie Dettori

Lanfranco Dettori is an Italian horse racing jockey who holds an MBE. Based in the UK, Dettori has been Champion Jockey on three occasions and has ridden the winners of more than 600 group races.

His most notable achievement was riding all seven winning horses on British Champions Day at Ascot back in 1996. But you may also know him for his trademark flying dismount, which is believed to be one of the reasons he’s the crowd’s favorite.

Dettori is the son of a Sardinian jockey Gianfranco Dettori, standing 5ft 4inches he has five children and is an Arsenal football supporter. Considered back in 2017 to be the jockey’s favorite because Lester Piggott described him as the best jockey racing today.

Now for ‘the house husbands’ favorite’ Katie Walsh.

Katie Walsh

With the prominence of women within the sport continually on the rise, we must include a female jockey at the top of horse racing today.

Katie is the sister of legendary jockey Ruby Walsh and has enjoyed a fantastic career.  She is a three-time winner at the Cheltenham Festival and has also won the Irish Grand National.

Her most famous ride was in the 2012 Grand National on the horse Seabass, although she came in third it is still the highest position that a female jockey had ever finished. An achievement that should not go unnoticed.

Hollie Doyle

Young contender 23-year-old Hollie Doyle enjoyed a great start to her career riding 116 winners, which is more winners in a calendar year than any other female jockey. An excellent achievement for any jockey but not for a jockey with racing in her blood.

Born in 1996, Doyle comes from a racing background. Her father, Mark Doyle, is a successful former jockey and her mother, Caroline, came to fame riding in Arab horse races.

The family live in Herefordshire. Doyle’s partner, Tom Marquand, is also a jockey. The couple met in their Pony Club days and they were, for a time, apprentices together.

No matter who your favorite jockey is, and whether their name appears on this roll call or not, there’s no getting away from the fact that for all jockeys, no matter the gender, horse riding is in the blood.