As the new Australian contributor for PickInsider, I’m looking forward to helping familiarize my American audience with some of the important names and faces of Australian horse racing. This week, I’ve put together a state-by-state list of who I think are the hot jockeys to follow in the country. We are currently just over a month in to the new racing season, but these are the jockey’s off to a bang, getting results, and riding with confidence.
Melbourne’s reigning metropolitan premiership winner, Dunn is a jockey that knows to put on a show at carnival time. Last season’s Scobie Breasley medallist (Melbourne racing’s award for excellence in race riding, as voted by the Stewards) has had another great start to this season, riding 18 winners from 92 races, with a handy strike rate of 19.6%.
Unfortunately, this is a face you probably won’t see a lot of during this year’s world-famous Spring Carnival in Melbourne, yet he’s one jockey that performs year-after-year on Victorian race tracks and should be given more opportunity to prove himself at an elite level. Currently leading the Victorian Jockey Premiership, Yendall has ridden 20 winners from 87 starts in 6 weeks, with a strike rate of 23%. He’s an ultra-consistent rider that gets the job done and worth keeping an eye out for!
Last weekend, this talented apprentice jockey saluted first past the post to take home his first Group 2 winner aboard Faatinah. Regan is a future star of Australian racing and currently has a strike rate of 22% with 13 winners from 59 rides.
Fresh off winning the Makybe Diva Stakes aboard Palentino on the weekend, Zahra is another underrated jockey who I think is worthy of a mention. Having only had 44 rides so far this season, he has a handy strike rate of 20.5% with 9 winners, and is sure to have gained a lot of confidence after adding another Group 1 winner to his resume on Saturday. He could definitely be a key player during the Spring Carnival with more opportunity
New South Wales (Sydney):
A recent two month working holiday in Europe seems to have sparked a fire in McDonald’s belly. Retained as the number 1 Southern Hemisphere jockey for Godolphin, the Kiwi-born hoop is a young champion on the rise and also in hot form after taking out the $1 million Golden Rose at Rosehill on Saturday. He currently has a strike rate of 27.7% with 13 wins from 47 starts.
A proven world class jockey, Berry has had another great start to this season, and you can always be confident of him getting the job done when the money is on and the quality of animal is underneath him. Currently leading the New South Wales jockey premiership with 20 wins (19% strike rate), he also shares the lead in the Metropolitan premiership alongside Brenton Avdulla on 12 wins.
Western Australia (Perth):
There is only one name to mention when it comes to racing in the West of Australia. Pike consistently rides in a world of his own over there, and this season will be no different. With a phenomenal strike rate of 24.1%, he’s comfortably leading the Western Australian Premiership with 21 wins from 87 rides, with nearest rivals Glenn Smith and Jordan Turner on 13 and 12 wins, respectively.
South Australia (Adelaide):
The young apprentice who hails from Hong Kong, affectionately known as the “Poon Train”, has quickly made his mark on the Adelaide racing scene since having his first race ride there 12 months ago. He currently leads the South Australian premiership on 12 wins with a strike rate of 18.8%. Matthew Neilson has the next best strike rate on 17.1%.
Last season’s South Australian premiership winner on 107 winners, 20-year-old Kah is one of the most naturally gifted female riders Australia has seen. Taking out the Adelaide metropolitan premiership at only 17 years-of-age in her first full season of riding, Kah is no doubt headed for another great season and currently sits second on the state leader board with 10 wins (15.9% strike rate).
A four-time Brisbane premiership winner and a multiple Group 1 winner, Byrne is a name synonymous with Queensland racing. He is off to another great start this season, leading the state premiership on 18 wins with a strike rate of 20.5%.
The former South African is riding in career-best form after becoming the oldest jockey to take out last season’s Brisbane metropolitan jockey premiership at 55 years-of-age (6.5 wins ahead of nearest rival, Byrne). Having amassed over 5000 career wins and 94 Group 1s, Lloyd made one of the greatest comebacks in history after suffering a stroke in 2013, when his riding career appeared over. He and Byrne look set to fight out the premiership again this year, with Lloyd sitting only 1 behind Byrne, on 17 wins (23.3% strike rate).
Look out for….
It’s an exciting time of the year as we are now well and truly into the Spring Carnival – and only 7 weeks away from the running of the Melbourne Cup. This Saturday at Royal Randwick in Sydney, sees the running of the Group 1 Colgate Optic White Stakes (formerly known as the George Main Stakes), headlining champion mare, Winx. A winner of 14 races from 20 starts (including the 2015 Cox Plate), and amassing almost $7 million in prizemoney, you won’t want to miss seeing this superstar continue to create history!