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

Tristan Rayner Editor

By Tristan Rayner, 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.


    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?


    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?

    Tristan Rayner
    Tristan Rayner

    Tristan is a writer, consultant, racing enthusiast and former Editor of The Roar who has turned the Melbourne Cup into a year-round study via

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    The Crowd Says (9)

    • August 3rd 2017 @ 8:01am
      oldtimer said | August 3rd 2017 @ 8:01am | ! Report

      Good read Tristan, but I must say Waterhouse & Bott would have come in way up in the percentages if I had refrained from backing their horses, generally favorites that came in fourth.
      That would probably be an interesting statistic to record, how many unplaced favorites the big trainers have although the trainers don’t make em favorites.
      Another trainer that had a good strike rate early was Darren Beadman, I know he inherited some good horses to start with but he had some good wins early, then I started backing him poor bas—d didn’t have a chance, but I don;t think my $10ew had a big impact on the markets.

    • August 3rd 2017 @ 10:30am
      no one in particular said | August 3rd 2017 @ 10:30am | ! Report

      On your last question, John O’Shea would be a leasing contender for under performer. No dollar spared, every available facility and only manged 4. His predecessor has less horses, less money behind him, fewer facilities and fewer bluebloods and also trained 4 for the season

      Portelli and Corstens with multiple G1 winners deserve a wrap.

    • August 4th 2017 @ 1:39am
      Jarijari said | August 4th 2017 @ 1:39am | ! Report

      Weird stats based on the number of starters. Weir on top with 447½½ winners, then Hayes and Dabernig 278½ and Waller 264½. Why in any way would the number of starters matter?

      • Roar Guru

        August 4th 2017 @ 10:41am
        kv joef said | August 4th 2017 @ 10:41am | ! Report

        can’t have a ratio without a denominator. Properly understood and calculated they can provide, in many cases, the emergence of professional quality. And for the recreational punter a potential weapon of mass destruction …

    • Roar Guru

      August 4th 2017 @ 12:11pm
      kv joef said | August 4th 2017 @ 12:11pm | ! Report

      ” … It’s a simple enough question – who turns the mixed bags into money machines, and who can’t make blue bloods sing?” >>>> a classic tristan … i can think of some stables that might have a veritable chorus.

      The strength in the Sydney trainers ranks are so strong. right across the country emergent trainers like Bjorn Baker, Matt Dunn, Ben Currie, Matt Dale … and a quite a few others are putting numbers on the board that would gladden any gambler’s heart.

      Nice to see Claire Cunningham register her first city win. She is already making good use of average stock so i expect her name to become more prominent quite quickly.

      my awards for top trainer/jockey … well mine are a bit different as usual …

      TOP TRAINER – Chris Waller. His professional ability is unquestioned. Like Weir, and most of the other top stables, he operates a transparent operation. If you know how to do form, very little surprises. But more than anything it is the positive persona he gives the sport and with Mick Price set an honesty standard started many years ago that served the sport well.

      BUT MY BIG TICK came because of something he did at a mid-week meeting last spring and not for his stack of G1s (which he also reaped).

      Last spring, I had just watched an interview with Pete Moody. he had horses scratched at a victorian provincial meeting during his dope inquiry but unrelated to. whether it was a valid stewards action or not wasn’t what i was looking at — Moody was in a v.ordinary place – it was honest and v.real – anyone who had lost a racing colleagues, friends, associates to the ‘black dog’ had alarm bells ringing at Db2000.

      Within an hour, Chris Waller, was being publicly interviewed at Canterbury. i’m sure it was at his initiative. He was giving his support to Moody in a v.professional manner about that day’s misdemeanor … but many watching realised his words were meant to mean more than that. Thankfully, Peter battled through the drama finishing STAGE ONE of his training career with a G1 winner … and a kick up the ‘a’ which he probably deserved.

      But for me, 2016/17 trainer goes to C.Waller … a consistent beckon for the sport.

      TOP JOCKEY — sorry aussie hoops … American Mike Smith gets my nod. A rider who rarely disappoints. All riders make errors but watching this horseman make right calls about tactics, pace and timing has been a pleasure over the years … and this year he has been downright scary.

      MY LOCAL NOD goes to Jeff Lloyd, a champion rider most of his career. So many times over the last couple of years he has shown the wealth of experience at the level absolutely dominating race tactics and pace appraisal and that is not an easy thing to do in QLD metro. The South Africans have raised the bar in QLD at that has woken the top locals … can’t remember Jimmy Byrne riding any better than now.

      the effect the SAf jocks are having on the QLD kids is noticeable. Watched one the other week trying the Lloyd bounce … not quite right yet but brownie points … a few riders around the world have an effective bounce but you need to watch exactly what they are doing and their rhythm … bit like whip riding without the fright.

      BIG MENTION to Ron ‘theo’ Quinton. Ron like his master theo green keeps tipping high quality kids into the jockey ranks. I reckon he may one or two ‘app champs’ to go to catch theo. his efforts have certainly enriched our ranks … and HKs.

      • Editor

        August 7th 2017 @ 9:51pm
        Tristan Rayner said | August 7th 2017 @ 9:51pm | ! Report

        Great to get your thoughts KV. Any thoughts on how Waller will go up on the GC? Boon for them to get his name at least…

        • Roar Guru

          August 8th 2017 @ 8:05pm
          kv joef said | August 8th 2017 @ 8:05pm | ! Report

          Yes an absolute boon for them, Tristan. Although, I don’t think there are grand plans for the QLD operation. I remember him commenting that he thought acquiring a small barn would prove useful during QLDs main carnival but also other occasions when good money is on offer, also the MM sales and racing in Jan may become a focus – anyway, saves hunting around for boxes.

          CW didn’t mention their ‘class’ system in his chat … but i think it may prove a happy hunting ground. QldMetroSat $$$ is 1.5 times Sydney mid-week and the SunCst is $20,000, ipswich/GCst at $16,000, so it is on par with TAB1 NSW Country meets (without the travel). Wouldn’t be surprised to see a shuttle operation develop for the lower class animals in the CW operation out to maximise earnings.

          Mind you, a few other ‘big’ stables have tried in QLD and pulled the pin underestimating the competitive nature of the maroons (where have i heard that before).

          His Victorian operation yielded 180 top5 finishes from 313 runners with nearly 40 winners statewide, so i’d think he’d be happy to hunt that number in QLD. Like Weir, his planning and their results are wonderfully consistent … at least for us 🙂 .

          • Editor

            August 9th 2017 @ 10:37pm
            Tristan Rayner said | August 9th 2017 @ 10:37pm | ! Report

            Good thoughts mate.

            I wasn’t up to speed with those Victorian results. That’s far far better than the NSW operation!

    • Roar Rookie

      August 5th 2017 @ 9:47am
      JOHNY BULLDOG said | August 5th 2017 @ 9:47am | ! Report

      Nice work Tristan & Kv

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