Goodwood Festival Top Jockeys

To be considered a top jockey at Glorious Goodwood is an enormous feat – the racecourse is notorious for its difficulty in that it encompasses tight curves and both downhill and uphill racing. The meet is also held over five days, with seven fixtures planned for each day, this has to put a strain on even the fittest of jockeys.

Glorious Goodwood Festival top jockeys are the single most important element to winning a race, they are in control of the horse, and it is only the jockey that can entice the last bit of speed out of his charge to cross the post first. They have to maintain a careful balance, keeping their weight low, but maintaining peak strength and endurance in order to manage their surging mounts.

The phyical and mental strength of the jockey is tested to its limits, and in recent times there is one man who has dominated at Goodwood, and that is Frankie Dettori. He has won a total of 149 races at Goodwood, an incredible 73 more than his closest rival, Richard Hills. Of those 149 wins, 46 of them have been secured over the Festival week.

In 2007, Dettori clinched the richest race of the Festival, the Sussex Stakes, valued at an incredible 300 000 GBP. Over the years he has lifted the coveted Tote Top Jockey Charity Challenge Trophy awarded to the top jockey at the Festival Meet no fewer than four times – in 1994, 1995, 1999 and 2006!

Michael Hills too has had great success at Goodwood. He has ridden a total of 69 winners at Goodwood, 27 of them during the Glorious Goodwood Festival Meet. He still has a long way to go though to catch the fabulous Frankie, who is currently 17 wins ahead.

There are a further four jockeys who have impressed at Goodwood and they are all within 1 or 2 wins of each other, so the competition is fierce and the rivalry intense. They are Kevin Darley, Darryll Holland, Richard Hughes and Richard Hills. Darley is the only one in the group of pretenders to the throne who has been rewarded with the Tote Top Jockey Charity Challenge Trophy, and he won it in consecutive years in 2000 and 2001. After 31 years of racing, Darley opted to retire recently, but he will always be remembered as one of the top jockeys at Goodwood! Another jockey worth a mention is the controversial Kieren Fallon – he too has claimed the trophy for the Top Jockey at the Festival meet on four occasions, in ’97, ’98, ’03 and ’05.

Fallon has had a very trying time of things in recent years. He, together with two other riders, was accused of race-fixing over three years ago, and a 17 month ban was imposed upon him. In December 2007 he and his co-accused were eventually found not guilty of the charges.

In January 2008 he walked headlong into another horseracing scandal – he failed a drugs test in France, and has been banned for 18 months.

Sadly, the six-time champion jockey has too often been embroiled in unpleasant situations which have resulted in bans, and he will probably never really realise his full potential because of all the enforced time off the racetrack!

For more in-depth information on Glorious Goodwood Festival Top Jockeys, take a look at our Frankie Dettori, the Hills Brothers – Michael & Richard and Richard Hughes profiles.