The History of the Flat Jockey Championship

Good Morning!

Welcome to a new post here at zoelouisesmithx.com. Before I get started I want to say sorry for not posting on Wednesday evening as I normally do, I have set out my schedule of 2 posts a week and stuck to it every week, however the past few weeks I had a lot going on so I was unable to get a post wrote up that I was happy to put out there, so I chose not to post and instead get a post up today and hopefully stick to the schedule here on out for the rest of 2021.

As many of you will know, the Flat Jockey Championship started last week, so I decided for today’s post to have a little look at the history of Championship and a look at who is up there in the betting for this years title, which looks like it could be a very good renewal! So without further ado, let’s just get into it!


The Flat Jockey Championship runs between May and October each year, with this years falling between the Guineas Festival on May 1st and the British Champions Day on October 16th. Originally the Championship was decided between the Lincoln Handicap Day and November Handicap Day, however it was in 2015 it was announced it would be reduced. So instead of the 32 weeks, it is now only around 24 weeks. In 2015, it was also announced that the Champion Jockey would receive a prize of £25,000 and the runner up would receive £10,000.

The first recognised Champion was in 1840 when Nat Flatman had 50 wins. Nat Flatman then went on to win the Championship consecutively up until 1852, with 104 being his biggest tally in 1848. It was 1853 when a new person won the Championship when John Wells had 86 winners, then winning again in 1854 with 82 winners.

In 1855 a new Champion took over when George Fordham won with 70 victories, then keeping the title all the way up to 1863, with 166 victories in 1862 being his highest winning season. In 1864 Jemmy Grimshaw won the title with 164 wins, before George Fordham won it back in 1865 with 142. In 1866 Sam Kenyon won with 123 wins, before George Fordham winning it back again in 1867 with 143 wins and keeping it in 1868 with 110 wins and in 1869 with 95 wins.

In 1870 there was the first join title when William Gray and Charlie Maidment both had 76 winners, followed up by another joint win in 1871 when George Fordham and Charlie Maidment had 86 wins.

The next mentionable name is Fred Archer who started his rein of Championship victories in 1874 when he has 147 wins, he then kept the title all the way up to 1886 when he won it with 170 wins. Throughout that time he recorded some of the biggest number of winners ever seen totalling 2609, including a 210, 218, 220, 229, 232, 241 and 246.

In 1900 the first winner from outside of Britain won the title when American born Lester Reiff won with 143 victories, followed by another American born jockey Danny Maher in 1908 with 139 victories. From 1909 to 1912 Australian jockey Frank Wootton won the title with a highest winning season of 187 in 1911. Danny Maher then won the title back in 1913 with 115 victories.

Between 1914 and 1922 Steve Donoghue won the title with a highest winning season of 143 in 1920. In 1923 Steve Donoghue jointly won the title with Charlie Elliott both with 89 wins.

Between 1925 and 1953, Gordon Richards won the title a record breaking 26 times with 1947 being a record breaking season – still to be broken – with 269 wins.

In 1960, the very famous Lester Piggott won the title for the first time with 170 wins, then winning it again in 1964 and all the way up to 1971 with his highest winning season being 1966 with 191 wins. In 1972 and 1973 Willie Carson won the title with 132 wins followed by 164.

Between 1974 and 1977 Irish born Pat Eddery won the title, with 148 wins followed by 164, 162 and 176. In 1978, Willie Carson won the title back with 182 victories, before winning it again in 1980 with 166 wins. Followed by Lester Piggott regaining the title in 1981 and 1982 with 179 and 188 wins. Before Willie Carson won the title back again in 1983 with 159 wins.

In 1992 the first South African born jockey won the title, this being Michael Roberts with 206 wins. In 1994 and 1995, Italian born Frankie Dettori won the title with 233 victories followed by 211 victories. In 1997, 1998 and 1999 Irish born Kieren Fallon won the title with 202, 204 and 200 wins. Before regaining the title back in 2001 and keeping it until 2003 with 166, 136 and 207 wins, before Frankie Dettori retained the title in 2004 with 192 wins.

In 2005, another Irish born jockey win, this time being Jamie Spencer with 163 wins, followed by Ryan Moore in 2006 with 180 wins. In 2007 we seen another joint win when Seb Sanders and Jamie Spencer both had 190 wins. In 2008 and 2009, Ryan Moore regained the title with 186 and 174 wins. In 2010 and 2011 Paul Hanagan won the title with 191 and 165 wins. Between 2012 and 2014 Irish born Richard Hughes won the title with 172, 208 and 161 wins.

In 2015, we see Brazilian born Silvestre de Sousa win the title for the first time with 132 wins. Jim Crowley won in 2016 with 148 wins, before Silvestre de Sousa won the title back in 2017 with 155 wins and keeping it in 2018 with 148 wins. For 2019 and 2020 we seen current Champion Jockey Oisin Murphy crowned with 168 victories in 2019 and 142 in 2020.


The person with the most titles is Gordon Richards who won it a massive 26 times, he also holds the record for the most wins in one season when he recorded 269 wins in 1947.

The most consecutive titles is 13, which is held by Nat Flatman who won between 1840 and 1852 and then done again by Fred Archer between 1874 and 1886.


On to this years Championship. (I have got all odds from the Sky Bet website and they were correct at time of editing on 07/05/2021.)

The favourite for this years title race is currently William Buick who is 7/4, followed very closely by Oisin Murphy at 2/1. Third up is the person currently at the top of the table, Ben Curtis with 7 wins out of 25 rides (Strike rate of 28%) who is 11/4. We then have the best couple in sport in the next two spots Tom Marquand at 5/1 and Hollie Doyle at 11/2. It then opens up with Daniel Tudhope, James Doyle, Ryan Moore and Silvestre de Sousa at 33/1 with Andrea Atzeni at 50/1. There is then Ben Robinson, David Egan, David Probert, Jim Crowley, Kevin Stott and Luke Morris all at 66/1 with Cieren Fallon and Paul Hanagan at 100/1.

So overall, it looks a pretty open race, with the top 5 all with a very good chance of winning the title, but as we all know, anything can happen in racing!


Who do you think will win the title this year? Let me know over on Twitter. I hope you enjoyed this little insight into the Flat Jockey Championship and I will see you all in my next post!

An Interview with Champion Jockey Oisin Murphy

Oisin Murphy

Heya guys!

So today’s post is such an exciting one, an interview with Champion Jockey Oisin Murphy. He is only 24 years old and is already travelling all over the world to ride winners and now he is also the Champion Jockey. I am lucky enough to have been able to interview Oisin and I truly hope you enjoy!

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Me: As a flat jockey, what jumps races do you most look forward to watching?

Oisin: I’m a huge national hunt fan and I suppose nothing beats the Champion Hurdle and Gold Cup every year. They’re my two favourite spectacles, very hard to separate them. As one is an incredibly fast and entertaining pace and the other race is, I suppose, the gold cup holds a lot of significance.

Me: Did your Uncle, Jim Culloty inspire you to go into racing after winning 3 Gold Cups on Best Mate? Did it ever inspire you to go into jumps racing?

Oisin: Of course, I admired Jim’s success riding, obviously, three Gold Cup wins in a row on Best Mate. At that stage, 2004, I had wanted to be a jump jockey, but it became apparent as I got older that I was never going to be very tall so my allegiance changed a little bit more to following flat racing.

Me: What is your favourite day of the racing calendar?

Oisin: There are many days I look forward to, erm I love watching the Breeders Cup. Possibly in Britain, the QIPCO Champions Day, it isn’t part of a festival, it’s kind of the big day of the year here. The Irish Champions weekend is a very good initiative, Arc Day at Longchamp, Dubai World Cup day. I’ve had Group 1 winners at all of those meetings, so obviously I look forward to them.

Me: What is your favourite track to ride at and why?

Oisin: My favourite track is York, erm with Doncaster being a close second. I love the make up of it, left handed, very flat, the best horse usually wins, great atmosphere, jockeys are well looked after, the Clerk of the course is fantastic, it’s very well managed and I’ve had lots of winners there, so it’s a very happy place.

Me: What would you say to anyone who thinks racing is animal cruelty?

Oisin: These horses receive the best care and attention you can imagine. And, you know, there is no doubt they are very well looked after. If we stop horse racing, what’s going to happen to all of the horses? There wouldn’t be any funding or finance to look after them, we’d probably have to put many of them to sleep, because there would be no reason for them. Remember, thoroughbreds are not riding horses, they’re quite high tempered, so it’s very difficult to say we can rehome every thoroughbred. It would have catastrophic results to the breed. It’s just very simple, if people think racing is cruel, what’s the alternative? These horses get five star treatment.

Me: What is your favourite race of your career, win or lose?

Oisin: Again, very difficult to answer as there has been many. Benbatl winning the Dubai Turf, Roaring Lion in the Juddmont International, Acclaim being my first Group 1 in la Foret, Suave Richard in the Japan Cup. There are many, many highlights, it’s very hard to pick one out if I’m honest.

Me: If you could ride any horse that you never have, past or present, what horse would you choose and why?

Oisin: I thought Frankel was spectacular and more recently Cracksman and his annihilation of the field in the Champion Stakes at Ascot on QIPCO British Champions Day was unbelievable. To they eye, his stride length and the closing three furlongs on soft ground was a very very fast time. And I suppose, as a jockey you appreciate things like that. But ultimately Frankel in the 2000 Guineas was just something very special and I think he went on to a similar performance in the Queen Anne later on in his career.

Me: What are your opinions surrounding the discussions of banning the whip?

Oisin: I don’t normally discuss the whip as I don’t feel the rules need changing in any way. We are very heavily regulated in Britain. We can talk about the whip as much as we like, the media like to create a frenzy when there’s none needed.

Me: Last season you won Champion Jockey, what is your next goal?

Oisin: I’d like to be Champion Jockey again in the future, it will be very difficult as Britain is possibly the most competitive riding environment, that’s proven by the success of our jockey’s abroad. Ryan Moore, Frankie Dettori, William Buick, James Doyle, Andrea Atzeni and now the likes of  Tom Marquand, David Egan and Jason Watson. Even at home, Rob Hornby and Kieran Shoemark are doing very well, so it will be difficult but I’ll give it my best go.

Me: With two top jockey’s, Joseph and Donnacha O’Brien retiring from the saddle at such a young age due to their battles with the scales, how do you conquer that yourself?

Oisin: Fortunately, I am much smaller than Donnacha and Joseph. Every jockey, or most, has a small or large battle with the scales, depending on your size. But, you need to make light weight sometimes. I tend to, particularly in Japan because that’s where I do my lightest weights, go to the gym on Friday and then sweat a bit in the bath and then in the sauna, but I break it up in stages, that way I can lose 3kg and still ride at a high level.

Me: The whole racing world was heartbroken over Roaring Lion’s death. Just how special was he to you?

Oisin: Roaring Lion was very special as he was a World Champion 3 year old. He was going to make a big impact in the bloodstock world. He was amazing from the point of view, very laid back, he could switch off very easily, a great constitution, very sound, powerful, unbelievable turn of foot.

Me: The dream for a jump jockey is to win the Grand National, the dream for a flat jockey is to win The Derby. It took AP McCoy years to finally win the Grand National – Hopefully you win The Derby a lot sooner, but how would you personally stay motivated if you were in a similar position to AP with the Derby? Winning every other race but not the one your heart is set on. What would motivate you to keep going to finally reach that dream?

Oisin: Yeah, perhaps, every jump jockey’s goal is to win the Grand National, it only comes around once a year. And being a flat jockey, you can appreciate many of the classics as it takes a world class animal. For me, the Derby and the Arc hold equal weight. I would like to win both, but I’m aware I may never win either, I suppose you just have to keep trying. Your body will tell you at an age when it’s time to stop and one must respect that as well. I don’t intend riding past a time where I can’t ride at a high level.

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I absolutely loved being able to interview Oisin, I think he is a brilliant young ambassador for our sport and also one of the most down to earth people I have spoken to. I want to thank Oisin for taking the time out of his ridiculously busy schedule to answer some questions! I really hope you have enjoyed reading this post, it was an absolute pleasure being able to speak with Oisin and have an insight into his thoughts an opinions surrounding the sport.

Thank you for reading. I will see you all in my next post!

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