Trainer Jockey Combinations

November 9, 2019

When you are a horse trainer it is really important to have a good working relationship with your jockey. As a trainer, you put a lot of time, effort and money into your training. Your relationship with your jockey is the missing link . 

Here’s the deal. I can’t stress how important your relationship is with the jockey.  It’s out of your control when you leg up the jockey in the paddock. It comes down to how well the jockey and horse get along together. Your job is done. 

You’re asking yourself what do I mean, how well they get along? Let’s face it… you’re with the horse day in and day out. You and your jockey have to be on the same page or all the work is for nothing. The way you develop that kind of relationship comes with time. When you tell a jockey what you want, it’s what you want. Here is where the relationship comes in. The jockey might say he is not so sure…you might want to rethink that. If you have enough confidence in him you will listen and both decide the strategy. It’s important you two come up with the correct game plan. Knowing he really has the last call, he is riding the horse. 

I was fortunate enough to have Tony Black as my main jockey. Not only was he an excellent rider, he was an excellent horseman. He could come back and tell you what he felt with the horse. That is so important! You can then make the necessary changes. I was a trainer that spoke my mind… good, bad or indifferent. I was also a trainer that would admit I made a mistake. In this business the fewer mistakes you make the better off your are. Mistakes cost you time and time costs you money. 

If you are a trainer that does not have a lot of horses, you’ve got to make every race count. It might be months before you run again. You have clients that expect you to make the correct decisions.


If there is one thing that bothers me more than anything is lack of communication. I know there is no script but you sure can take the sting out of bad decisions if you are both on the same page.

And that culminates into winning!  You can’t ever win enough. So pick out a jockey with whom you can work and you like. From my personal experience, they will generally be happy to help the team win races. Things happen all the time and audibles have to be called. You want a jockey that can think and react. There isn’t much room for error between winning and losing. Remember winning races is a team effort. So try and put the best team together. It starts with the jockey. Hopefully this sheds a little light on jockeys and trainer combinations.

See you at the races. 

Contributing Authors

JJ Graci

JJ was born in Philadelphia, Pa.  and attended Villanova University. He has vast experience in horse racing and broadcasting. JJ has been a fixture in...

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