How much do jockeys earn?

Said to be ‘The Sport of Kings’, horse racing can be a lucrative business for those operating at the very top, but, regardless of the ‘code’ of racing (Flat or National Hunt), jockeys’ earnings from prize money vary widely. Of course, a handful of top jockeys have contracts, or ‘retainers’, to ride for individual owners ot trainers. Current British Champion Flat Jockey William Buick, for example, is retained by Goldolphin, while his predecessor, Oisin Murphy, is retained by Qatar Racing.

However, the vast majority of jockeys are self-employed and, as such, rely on a flat-rate riding fee, for each mount they take, and a percentage of any prize-money they win to earn a living. Riding fees are negotiated between the Professional Jockeys’ Association (PJA) and the Racehorse Owners’ Association (ROA) and, at the time of writing, currently stand at £162.79 and £221.28, per ride, for Flat and National Hunt jockeys respectively. Prize-money percentages range from 6.9% for the former to 8.5% or 9% for the latter, depending on the race in question.

Thus, top jockeys earn more money not by charging more, but rather by riding more often – and, typically, more successfully, at a higher level – than the rank and file of the weighing room. Obviously, jockeys’ earnings are subject to deductions, such as agent, valet and PJA fees, among others, expenses, not least travelling expenses, and taxation. On average, though, according to the ‘Racing Post’, Flat jockeys earn £27,800, gross, per annum, while National Hunt jockeys earn £20,500.