What does it mean if a jockey is ‘jocked off’?

In short, a jockey is said to be ‘jocked off’ if he or she loses the booking on a horse that he or she has previously ridden regularly, usually, but not always, at the behest of an influential owner. Of course, owners have every right to request the booking of whomsoever they want to ride their horses, so the replacement of one jockey by another is fairly commonplace. Nevertheless, ‘jocking off’ does occasionally become a talking point, particularly when a lesser-known jockey is replaced by a higher-profile weighing room colleague in the build-up up to a prestigious race, such as the Derby.

Indeed, 2024 Derby provided a prime example of contentious jocking off. Callum Shepherd, who had ridden Ambiente Friendly, owned by the Gredley Family, on both previous starts, including an impressive, 4½-length win in the Lingfield Derby Trial, was unceremoniously replaced by Robert Havlin just three days before the Epsom Classic. Instead of providing Shepherd with what would have been his first Derby ride, joint-owner Tim Gredley said that he and his father, Bill, had opted for ‘more experience on the day’, in the form of Havlin.

Of course, jockeys losing high-profile, potentially lucrative rides is nothing new. The late, great Lester Piggott was a fine exponent of jocking off and, on once famous occasion, convinced owner Ivan Allan that he should replace Darrel McHargue on Commanche Run, trained by Luca Cumani, in the 1984 St. Leger. Sent off 7/4 favourite, Commanche Run duly obliged, thereby making Piggott the most successful jockey in the history of British Classic races.