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  • The Art Of Doing Nothing: A Jockey'S Riding Style Can Be A Winning Factor

The art of doing nothing: a jockey's riding style can be a winning factor

Horse racing analyst Andrew of Fiosrach shares his insights into how a jockey's riding style can play a significant role in a horse's jumping ability and ultimately in its chances to win.

Many of you will have realised through watching racing on both flat and jumps that the jockey who is moving least is likely to be aboard the horse that is going best.

If you haven't spotted that, then I suggest you watch multiple races and in the final couple of furlongs look for the jockey sitting motionless. Then see where that horse finishes - by the way, it does not happen every time, but they will win more often than not.

The Art of Doing Nothing is especially important when we look at jump racing, and in this case I do not mean looking for the motionless rider just in the final couple of furlongs. It is interesting if you look at the distinctive styles of the jockeys when they approach a fence.
When I think back to the rivalry between Ruby Walsh and AP McCoy, their contrasting styles when approaching a fence were interesting to observe.
Ruby in the early days used to sit still and let the horse figure out how to jump the fence, unless he needed to put in a long stride coming to the last.
McCoy, on the other hand, rode with tremendous vigour and drove his mounts into the fence, which worked on many occasions, but also sometimes confused the horse and caused a number to fall or unseat.
Interestingly, the two jockeys swapped styles towards the end of their careers, with Ruby having suffered injuries from falls as he started to drive his mounts at the fences.

As AP became more successful with multiple jockeys' championships under his belt, he relaxed his technique and began to sit much more still coming into fences. As a consequence, his mounts began to jump better and fall less, and this added longevity and further success in his latter years as the leading UK jockey.

Of more recent jockeys, I think Davy Russell offers a perfect example of how to sit still and let the horse figure out how to best jump a fence. It is important to remember that horses have been jumping fences for thousands of years, with or without a human on board, and they do not want to fall.

If you watch Russell ride in chases and see how he sets his horse at those fences and lets the horse jump naturally it is a perfect example of race riding.
Two of the top jockeys over the last few seasons, Harry Cobden and Harry Skelton, have ridden horses aggressively at the larger obstacles and both have experienced multiple falls as a result.
Of the two, Cobden seems to have learned to relax more and perhaps has taken advice from Paul Nicholls or one of the senior jockeys. As a result, he has a more relaxed horse underneath him and that leads to less mistakes happening.

With the Cheltenham Festival only a week away it will be important to have a jockey on board that has learned the Art of Doing Nothing.

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