Why do jump jockeys make the grade as Flat trainers?
Whistlejacket examines why former jump jockeys make the grade as Flat trainers, whilst their Flat counterparts struggle
What do the names of David O’Meara, Clive Cox, Tom Dascombe and Richard Fahey (pictured) have in common? Well apart from being very successful trainers on the Flat with multiple Group successes and countless winners between them, they are also former journeymen jump jockeys.
There are some former Flat jockeys amongst the Flat training ranks but they are not as common as you might think. Richard Hughes is one that comes to mind but he has not yet hit the heights of trainers such as Karl Burke or Kevin Ryan. Plus, he has not been doing it that long.
And that is probably the point. A jump jockey at 30 knows his career may be winding down, particularly if he has not been at the top of the tree; a Flat jockey can go on a good bit longer and by the time retirement beckoned the opportunity or incentive for getting into training may have passed.
There was talk of some top Flat jockeys starting training such as Kieren Fallon or Philip Robinson, but frankly starting a career as a trainer at 50 is a pretty risky business and probably not recommended.
Even such successful jockeys such as Walter Swinburn, Pat Eddery or even Lester Piggott were not successful and although personal circumstances played a part in each case, it may be easier for the average jump jockey, with a grounding in training techniques, a deep knowledge of horses and time on their side, to make a success.
In addition, whilst the pressure to succeed is there, and financial worries also are inevitable, external expectations may not be quite as high. The early runs of Eddery’s horses were scrutinised quite closely whilst I doubt the same was true of Karl Burke’s. Fame brings its own pressures.
Why the Flat?
And then why the Flat? Some jump jockeys such as Paul Nicholls have gone on to have outstanding careers as jump trainers, but I think the main reason is financial.
You can run Class 5 handicap horses more on the all weather more than you can run an average hurdler or chaser and we are probably producing more speed horses and less staying chasing types.
Therefore, when going into training you are more likely to make a living training a string of average Flat horses than if you train a collection of average jumpers. Plus, if you reach the top as the ones in this article have done then the rewards are even greater.
Flat Trainers’ 2020 winners – former jump jockeys in red
|J H M Gosden||54||197||27.41||107||54.31|
|A W Carroll||34||250||13.6||86||34.4|
|A M Balding||32||183||17.49||77||42.08|
|R A Fahey||29||275||10.55||72||26.18|
|W J Haggas||23||132||17.42||65||49.24|
|K R Burke||22||159||13.84||50||31.45|
|D M Simcock||20||118||16.95||40||33.9|
|S C Williams||19||157||12.1||50||31.85|
|R M Beckett||19||120||15.83||41||34.17|
|Sir Michael Stoute||14||71||19.72||34||47.89|
|M R Channon||13||106||12.26||39||36.79|
|K A Ryan||13||121||10.74||39||32.23|
|J J Quinn||13||92||14.13||36||39.13|
|Miss Gay Kelleway||13||82||15.85||32||39.02|
|E A L Dunlop||13||73||17.81||27||36.99|
|P D Evans||11||182||6.04||44||24.18|
|T D Easterby||11||193||5.7||37||19.17|
|S and E Crisford||11||72||15.28||35||48.61|
|C G Cox||10||100||10||39||39|
|G L Moore||10||115||8.7||28||24.35|
|R M H Cowell||10||92||10.87||27||29.35|
|P F I Cole||10||34||29.41||17||50|
|Source: Sky Sports|
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