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RacingBetter News
Tuesday 23rd June 2020
How Much Do Jockeys Earn?

Think about the glamourous nature of horse racing. The big meets such as the Grand National, Royal Ascot, and Cheltenham attract the rich, middle class, and… the people who like to think they’re part of high society.

There’s also a lot of prize money involved. Horse riding attracts big brands as sponsors, which means the top horses can earn their owners millions over the course of a season. For example, the winner of the 2019 Grand National – Tiger Roll – landed over half of the £1 million prize pot for the big race.

With so much cash flying around, you might be wondering just how much trickles down to jockeys. Considering the integral role they play, they must earn a serious chunk of cash, right?

To sum it up in one word: No.

The exclusive few

Sure, those at the top end of horse racing earn a lucrative living. For instance, Frankie Dettori is a global figure that competes in the biggest races across the planet. If he wins these races, he receives a tasty slice of the profits. Yet this isn’t his only earning avenue. He’ll typically be on a retainer with a top trainer, owner, or both. This means he earns a guaranteed salary, which is a level of security the vast majority of jockeys will be envious about.

Why would they be jealous about this, exactly? Well, many jockeys operate on a self-employed basis. This means they have to charge for every race. If they want to earn anything beyond a minimal wage, they have to rely on winning – which is far from easy as anyone involved in horse racing will be well aware of already.

Oh, but don’t think the top jockeys are raking it in – particularly when compared to other sporting stars. According to CashLady, the 30 richest sports stars all earn more than £8 million a year. To put that in perspective, it’s estimated the best jockeys generally earn around £200,000 each year from horse racing.

The earnings breakdown

As mentioned, many jockeys in the UK are self-employed and charge for each race they compete in.

While they will be hoping to win each race to bump up their pay packet, a jockey will primarily rely on riding fees. These fees are £120.66 on the flat, while this is bumped up to £164.74 for jump-based rides. If they manage to secure multiple races across an afternoon and evening – which is possible during the height of summer – they could rake in over £1,000 in a day.

This sounds fine on the surface. However, there are various costs to consider, including:

  • The jockey’s agent (10%)
  • Valet equipment handling
  • Insurance, which according to First Quarter Finance can cost around £40 or $50
  • Medical
  • The fee to the Professional Jockeys Association

This could end up taking that £1,000 a day down to about £750. Not bad, right? However, this is on a good day. During quieter times of the season, a jockey can be lucky to ride a few times a week.

If a jockey were to do 300 flat rides a year, they would typically earn about £27,000 a year after deductions. This amount is then reduced further due to taxes. Just remember: bonuses are available for those who win races, which can be particularly lucrative for big events. There’s also the chance of sponsorship.

Yet ultimately, a jockey is far from the most financially rewarding jobs – either in sport or in general.