The racing season that was: How the trainers and jockeys stacked up

Tristan Rayner Editor

By , Tristan Rayner is a Roar Editor

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    Darren Weir with the 2015 Melbourne Cup (AAP/Julian Smith)

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    The full season of racing finished and started without so much of a pause on August 1st, but we can take a moment to examine the winningest trainers and jockeys in the land, and see what we can find.

    I generally find the jockey and trainer premierships to be a distant second to horse results but there’s something in the data that can help us into the future.

    Jockeys

    On the jockey front, WA’s marvel William Pike took the nationwide jockey premiership, winning the most, and winning with the best strikerate to earn himself a share of more than $6m in prizemoney. Pike started 830 mounts and won on 197.5 of them for a 23.90 per cent strikerate. He’s the Joao Moreira of WA – he gets the best horses, and he causes markets to plunge in – and he’s only 31. He’s got room to improve, starting in three Group 1s without a win last season.

    Hugh Bowman, courtesy of Winx and 105 other wins earned just under $18.9m for his mounts off a 18.6 strike rate, topping the prizemoney pool. He also started the least times of the top 20, on 598 rides.

    NSW ironman Jeff Penza started the most horses with 968 mounts at an equal-worst 14 per cent strikerate, 50 more than the old boy Jeff Lloyd up in Queensland who managed a 20.6 per cent return, one of the top three overall. Greg Ryan was second on a 20.90% strikerate, but dominating country tracks saw him second-last in prizemoney earnings for $2.2m.

    The state-based jockey show reminds me strongly of the world’s most winning jockey, Russell Baze. Few online reads have ever topped this The New York Times put out on him, called ‘The Jockey‘. Baze corned northern California, balancing ‘ambition and contentment’ as the Times put it to win, but very rarely at the highest level.

    South Australia’s Jamie Kah was the best of the female jockeys, at just 21, with a 19.20 per cent strikerate giving her 130 winners, a new record. Victorian Linda Meech managed 127 winners – also beating the old records – at a 17.50% winning tick.

    With Kah now firmly on the scene, is Meech still regarded as arguably our best female jockey?

    Trainers

    The Australian Trainer Premiership was won by Darren Weir, with 2686 starts some 658 ahead of Chris Waller’s 2028 starts, and 780 ahead of the Hayes and Dabernig stable on 1906 starts.

    The strikerate among the three was 16.70%, 13.10% and 14.60% so Weiry was more efficient and more winning. Taking a look at the wider top 20 trainers, Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott managed a 20.20% winning strikerate from 749 starters, while Grant & Alana Williams over in Western Australia went even better, taking a 23.80% return from 474 starters. Tony Gollan could only manage a 12.80% strikerate from 837 starters.

    At Group 1 level, Waller won nine at the top level, one more than Weir. Winx handed Waller six of those wins, while Black Heart Bart delivered four for Weir.

    With Waller saddling 106 Group 1 runners, he scored a low 8.5 per cent strikerate of winners. Weir managed his eight Group 1s from 65 runners, at 12.3 percent.

    The worst of the big stables came from Lindsay Park, where 87 Group 1 runners won just five races for a 5.7 per cent return. Hayes appears to be gearing up his operation with a load of juvenile horses at the three-year-old and two-year-old level including the Blue Diamond winner, Catchy.

    The best two trainers in terms of Group 1 strikerate came from Kris Lees and Ciaron Maher. Lees won 4 from 24 starts for an 18.2 per cent strikerate, while Maher took 4 from 19 starts for a 21.1 per cent strikerate.

    Something that we just don’t have the means of estimating is a way of comparing results based on the sale value (or otherwise) paid by owners of the horses in these stables, and the return per-head the owners get.

    It’s a simple enough question – who turns the mixed bags into money machines, and who can’t make blue bloods sing?