UK Racing Strategies – Top Trainers And Jockeys

The phrase ‘horses for courses’ is often heard around Irish and UK racing when discussing those horses which run their best races at certain tracks. However it’s equally important to know which are the best jockeys and trainers to follow. Both in general terms and more specifically by each individual racecourse.

The UK’s leading data and content provider Timeform has produced a handy guide to make sure you know which names you need to look out for on race cards over the coming months.


The table below shows the top 10 Flat jockeys at all UK and Irish racecourses over the past decade, listed according to strike rate.

JockeyRacesWinnersStrike Rate
Ryan Moore7185144320.08%
Frankie Dettori371971419.20%
Mickael Barzalona98316516.79%
Jamie Spencer7229119716.56%
William Buick592096216.25%
Silvestre De Sousa6975111916.04%
George Baker6743103315.32%
Paul Hanagan8556122414.31%
Joe Fanning8881126914.29%
Andrea Atzeni473066914.14%

As you can see, Ryan Moore – who divided opinion in Australia before his 2014 Melbourne Cup-winning ride aboard Protectionist – has the best wins-to-runs ratio, though his high profile also means that he rides a lot of the top horses.

Frankie Dettori, who rode for many years as the stable jockey for Godolphin has the second-best record, while Mickael Barzalona, who is Godolphin’s principal rider in France, sits at number three on the list.

Interestingly, the New Zealander James McDonald, who was recently banned for breaching rules on betting, and Kerrin McEvoy, the Australian, who both rode for Godolphin during spells in the UK, had strike rates of 15.92% and 15.83% respectively.


Clearly, there isn’t space in this article to detail which trainers have the best records at individual racecourses, however the table below shows the top 10 Flat trainers with the best strike rates in the UK and Ireland over the past decade.

TrainerRacesWinnersStrike Rate
Aidan O'Brien, Ireland4528101922.50%
Saeed bin Suroor376484622.48%
Charlie Appleby184338520.89%
Jeremy Noseda185037920.49%
Simon Crisford2675420.22%
John Gosden5163104220.18%
Sir Mark Prescott264753420.17%
William Haggas392678820.07%
Sir Michael Stoute394779220.07%
Roger Varian177333919.12%

Aidan O’Brien – who won the Cox Plate in 2014 with Adelaide – leads the way, albeit only marginally from his long-term rival Saeed bin Suroor.

Along with Charlie Appleby, bin Suroor trains the majority of Godolphin horses in the UK and Ireland, while former Godolphin racing manager Simon Crisford, who set up as a trainer himself in 2014, sits at number five on the list after making an encouraging start to his new career.

Finally, with Royal Ascot just around the corner, the table below shows the top 10 trainers with the best strike rates at the five-day meeting over the past decade.

TrainerRacesWinnersStrike Rate
Wesley A. Ward, USA37718.92%
Aidan O'Brien, Ireland2173917.97%
D. K. Weld, Ireland25416.00%
Jamie Osborne33515.15%
J. S. Bolger, Ireland34514.71%
Sir Michael Stoute1432013.99%
John Gosden1582113.29%
Nicky Henderson25312.00%
Hughie Morrison46510.87%
Roger Charlton3139.68%

The meeting has been a happy hunting ground for the American trainer Wesley Ward, who saddled his first Royal Ascot winner in 2009 when Strike The Tiger won the Windsor Castle Stakes.

Similarly, the Irish trainers Dermot Weld and Jim Bolger, who don’t tend to send many runners over to England, have both fared well at Royal Ascot, gaining high-profile wins with Free Eagle and Dawn Approach, respectively, in recent seasons.

Nicky Henderson, who is better known for his winners over jumps, is another trainer to look out for when sending his stable stars to the big Flat meetings.

Jumps Trainers

Nicky Henderson is also one of the top trainers when it comes to jump – also known as National Hunt – racing in the UK and Ireland. Crowned British Champion Trainer four times, including after the most recent season, Henderson sits in third place in the table below which shows the top 10 jump trainers with the best strike rates in the UK and Ireland over the past decade.

TrainerRacesWinnersStrike Rate
W. P. Mullins, Ireland4916146929.88%
D. K. Weld, Ireland40810024.51%
Nicky Henderson403694423.39%
Paul Nicholls5458127623.38%
Harry Fry71416623.25%
Aidan O'Brien, Ireland2675821.72%
Don Cantillon2144420.56%
Alan Swinbank64112319.19%
Dr Richard Newland118222218.78%
Harry Whittington2524618.25%

Willie Mullins came very close to becoming the first Irish-based trainer to win the British trainers’ title since the legendary Vincent O’Brien in the 1950s in 2016.

Crowned Irish Champion Trainer 11 times, Mullins has dominated jump racing over the past decade, ruling big festivals such as Cheltenham, Aintree and Punchestown.

He has won nearly every big race in the race calendar, though the famous Cheltenham Gold Cup still eludes his grasp. Dermot Weld’s own domination has tended to come at the Galway Festival – watch out for his runners at the end of July/early August.

Jumps Jockeys

Though undoubtedly a fine rider in his own right, the obvious beneficiary of Willie Mullins’ skill as a trainer is his stable jockey Ruby Walsh. The son of trainer Ted Walsh, Ruby Walsh has been the leading rider at the Cheltenham Festival 11 times in total and has won the Grand National twice, including on his first ever ride in the race (Papillon in 2000).

JockeyRacesWinnersStrike Rate
Ruby Walsh5311144027.11%
Barry Geraghty493996619.56%
Nico de Boinville98218919.25%
Richard Johnson8615158918.44%
Jason Maguire458382718.04%
Sean Bowen87915617.75%
Noel Fehily451678417.36%
Davy Russell511284416.51%
Sam Twiston-Davies450271815.95%
Gavin Sheehan165726215.81%

Barry Geraghty is the retained jockey for leading owner J.P. McManus – who is famous for landing major gambles over the years – while Richard Johnson is one of the hardest-working jockeys around. A.P. McCoy was Champion Jockey for 20 years in succession, riding over 4,000 winners before retiring in 2015, however Johnson has now finally got his hands on the trophy, winning the award for the past two seasons.

Related Articles

Understanding Race Tactics – Riding Style

Aside from the jockey’s overall strike rates, outlined in the first article in this series, it is also important ...

Data and Interpretation – Timeform

The first three articles in this mini-series, looking at the differences between Australian and British racing, as well as race tactics and ...

Australian and British Racing Terminology

Racing Terms can be confusing. Know your stalls from your paddock? Or confused by a pulling sure thing? Don’t ...