The Lincoln handicap at Doncaster, always a great time of year for the flat racing enthusiasts amongst us. And a time that of course signifies the start of the flat season each year. In 2016, it was a battle between only two riders for much of the campaign: Sylvester de Sousa and Jim Crowley. Listed below are the five main contenders for this year’s championship, before finally, one jockey to follow, one that, perhaps, could creep into the top five placings. Ok, so on with the shortlist…
Sylvester de Sousa finished runner up last season behind Jim Crowley, but although he missed out on the top spot he still amassed an impressive tally — 132 winners from 759 rides, with a strike-rate of 17%. This season, the Brazilian will be looking to go one better, and with his strong style of riding, few would be surprised to see him crowned top jockey for a second time — a title he won back in 2015. Predicted placing: 3rd.
Paul Hanagan the 36-year-old from Cheshire, is another jockey with leading claims. Hannigan won the championship in 2010 and 2011, and his return to his former retainer, Richard Fahey, could give him all the ammunition he will need to secure his third title. Predicted placing: 2nd.
Jim Crowley, last year’s champion jockey will again be at the forefront of many betting markets as his bids to defend his crown. His newly formed association with leading owner Hamdan al-Maktoum will surely only enhance his chances and with this opportunity he will get to ride some of the very best bred horses around. If he can pick up a high majority of other rides alongside this connection, then there is no reason why he can’t compete again. Predicted placing: 5th.
Andrea Atzeni, the man giving Frankie Dettori a challenge for leading Italian jockey in the UK, amassing 88 winners in 2016 alone. A strongly built rider who has made some good partnerships in recent years, not least with the great Postponed, and further such combinations this season could boost his tally and see him secure a place in the top five once again. Predicted placing: 4th.
Ryan Moore, the most talented flat jockey we have seen since the days of Kieran Fallon’s domination of the flat racing scene from 1997 to 2003. Moore has won the title on three separate occasions, first in 2006, then back-to-back in 2008 and 2009. He is the complete horseman, and despite his boyish frame, he seems to get the best out of almost every horse he rides. And if he continues to take rides outside of his Ballydoyle obligations and maybe finding himself near the top around August time, then he could well push on and win title number four. Predicted placing: 1st.
Oisin Murphy, the talented Irishman is not considered a contender for this year’s championship, but he does have a great outside chance to sneak into the top five. He will get many rides from Andrew Balding this term, and he will be looking to build on his total of 83 winners in 2016. This gifted young rider could well be a future champion in the making.