We often get asked how much do jockeys make. Top flat jockeys such as Ryan Moore and Frankie Dettori certainly aren’t short of a few quid, while neither are top jump jockeys such as Richard Johnson and Paul Townend. But the jockeys at the other end of the spectrum find it much tougher to earn a living.
Jockeys have to work seriously hard for their money. They get up early to ride out, survive off little food to keep their weight down, train hard, and travel thousands of miles each year to maximize their riding opportunities.
Jockeys earn money in a variety of ways, but that does not include gambling on horse racing, which they are banned from doing.
How Much Do Jockeys Get Paid Per Ride?
As of 2020, professional jockeys get paid £127.14 per ride in the United Kingdom, with jumps jockeys getting paid £173.59. It may seem unfair that jumps jockeys get paid more per ride, but the average jumps race is longer than the average flat race. Due to a higher percentage of fallers over hurdles and fences, jumps jockeys also deserve a bit more because of the higher risk of injury.
As you can see, if a jump jockey is lucky enough to have six rides on a card, they can earn over £1,000 a day just in riding fees.
However, jockeys also have lots of overheads. They pay 10% of their riding fees to their agent, while the PJA (Professional Jockeys Association) takes a further 3%. Jockeys also employ valets to look after their silks, saddles, and other equipment, and valets are entitled to a percentage of a jockey’s first three riding fees on any card.
While top jockeys are raking it in, average flat jockeys make around £27,000 from around 300 rides a year and average jump jockeys around £26,000 from 210 rides a season.
What Percentage Of Prize Money Do Jockeys Receive?
As well as their riding fees, jockeys also receive a percentage of any prize money that the horses they ride win. Average prize money on the flat per race is higher than that over jumps, and flat jockeys receive 6.9% of the prize money from the winners they ride.
Jump jockeys receive 8.5% of all first-place prize money. Meanwhile, all jockeys receive 3.5% of any money horses earn for being placed in a race. Once again, agents typically take 10% of what jockeys earn from prize money.
Prize money can be a massive boost for jockeys, especially if they are lucky enough to win big races such as The Derby or the Grand National. Anthony Van Dyck won £921,537.50 for winning the 2019 Derby, which means his jockey Seamie Heffernan picked up a cool pre-tax bonus of around £57,000.
Tiger Roll won £500,000 for winning the 2019 Grand National, meaning jockey Davy Russell picked up around £38,000 for winning the world’s most famous race.
How Much Do Jockeys Get Paid By Sponsors?
Another way in which jockeys have been able to earn money in recent years is by sponsorship. Lots of jockeys now have the names of businesses or bookmakers emblazoned on their silks. But this is only in keeping with lots of other sports, such as professional golf.
However, the amount of money that sponsors pay jockeys is not readily disclosed to the public. We can only assume that the highest-profile jockeys such as Moore, Dettori, and Townend command a lot more sponsorship than their less-famous colleagues in the weighing room.
How Much Do Retained Jockeys Get Paid?
Not many jockeys can command retainers nowadays, but some trainers and owners still have deals in place to secure they get first-call on a jockey’s services. Frankie Dettori and Ryan Moore have certainly been paid retainers throughout his career. Perhaps the most high-profile retainer now is that of Jim Crowley who rides for Hamdan Al Maktoum. However, what Crowley’s retainer is worth is unknown.
Do Jockeys Get Paid For Riding Out?
Many jockeys are happy to ride work at stables if it gets them rides, but many jockeys will also get paid for riding work if they need to travel to a stable to do so. Top jockeys will often ride work on a horse before a big target to make sure they know any idiosyncrasies a horse may have. However, just how much jockeys earn for riding work is at the discretion of the trainers and jockeys.
What Expenses Do Jockeys Have?
The biggest expense that any jockey has outside of their agent’s fees are travel costs. High-profile jockeys in the UK typically travel up to 60,000 miles a year, and that’s without including jetting off to take rides in other countries. They also have to factor in the cost of purchasing a car and maintaining it.
Just like everyone else, jockeys also must pay tax and national insurance. But as jockeys are self-employed, they can deduct the cost of travel and equipment.
So, What Do Jockeys Make?
You now know how jockeys earn their livings, but those livings vary greatly. Top jockeys get up to 1,000 rides a year and earn thousands more in prize money and sponsorship. Jockeys at the other end of the spectrum are struggling to get 200-300 rides a year, and these are often in races where the prize money on offer is small.
So, while we can’t give you an exact figure for how much jockeys make, we can all probably agree that they deserve every pound they get in what can be a dangerous sport.
To put what jockeys earn into context with other sports, only around 3-4 UK-based jockeys earned more than the golfer that averagely finished around 200th on the PGA Tour each year, and they just hit a little white ball around a field for a living.
How Much Can I Make From Horse Racing?
Most of us that love horse racing will never get the chance to be jockeys, trainers, or owners, but professional gamblers and tipsters also make money from horse racing.
It is just as difficult to be become a professional gambler, as it takes as much hard work, skill, and dedication as it takes to become a top jockey.
But the great news is you can avoid all the hard work and still profit from gambling on horse racing by following the advice of professional horse racing tipsters.
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