Jockeys are the unsung heroes of horse racing. The men and women that sit in the saddle are directly involved with race preparations and the running of the events. Jockeys and horses work in conjunction although it is the horse that gets much of the fame from a big race win. Horse racing fans can follow all of the races this autumn and bet on Royal Ascot and wager on the horses they believe will win.
Jockeys in Japan and America are currently the best paid in the sport. However, top jockeys in other countries such as France, Ireland, and the United Kingdom are currently doing well for themselves and taking in more money from prize purses. So, which men and women are horse racing’s richest jockeys?
5. Bill Shoemaker
Between 1949 and 1990, Bill Shoemaker accumulated over 40,000 career races. It led him to earn over £195 million. Shoemaker’s long career spanned four decades in which he won 8,833 races.
Shoemaker won the Kentucky Derby four times in three different decades. He also secured multiple wins at the Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes.
4. Christophe Lemaire
Christophe Lemaire is one of the top jockeys to race in Japan. The Frenchman who now races full-time in Japan has earned more than £209m.
Lemaire’s career started in his homeland of France where he became a top rider. After riding in Japan part-time for years, Lemaire made a permanent move to the Land of the Rising Sun in 2014. Since then, he has had nothing but success. In 2017 and 2018, he achieved the Japanese record for race wins in a season with 215.
3. Javier Castellano
Javier Castellano started racing professionally in 1996. Since then, Castellano has amassed more than £275m. The American jockey has won the Preakness Stakes, Dubai Golden Shaheen, and Breeders’ Cup Classic to name just three of his major victories.
Castellano has won the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Jockey four times. He achieved the award four years in a row from 2013 to 2016.
2. John Velazquez
John Velazquez has made over 5,000 race starts and won some of America’s biggest horse races. He is a two-time Kentucky Derby and two-time Belmont Stakes winner in a career that has spanned nearly three decades.
The American jockey has earned more than £334m during his illustrious career. Due to the wealth involved in top-tier American horse racing, Velazquez is still earning large sums of money for his race wins. In November 2018, Velazquez won his 6,000th race. Velazquez is still going strong with over 33,000 races under his belt.
1. Yutaka Take
Japanese horse racing is taken very seriously by those in the Land of the Rising Sun. The country’s top jockey, Yutaka Take has been riding horses since 1987. In his 30-plus year career, Take has taken home around £649.8m.
Take’s popularity and fame in horse racing made him a celebrity in Japan. It also led to further endorsement and other lucrative financial dealings. Take has won some of the world’s biggest horse races including the Dubai Duty Free Stakes, Arima Kinen, and Prix d’Ispahan races.