How Much Do Jockeys Earn?

Features | 29th June 2023

Boiling down the numbers on how a jockey gets paid 

The life of a jockey is a mixture of glorious celebrations, hard graft and a relentless daily grind. For those receiving the adulation in the winners’ enclosure after the biggest races, the rewards can be great but, when it’s all boiled down, how do the finances add up? Here’s a look at how much jockeys earn and what they have to shell out in expenses.

Riding Fees

It doesn’t matter if you’re the champion jockey or a journeyman making your living at the minor meetings – riding fees are the same. So employing a Frankie Dettori or a William Buick, a Brian Hughes or a Harry Cobden, costs the same as one of the jockeys lower down the pecking order. 

The current rates for fully-fledged professionals are £157.90 for Flat jockeys and £214.63 for jumps riders per race. If a horse doesn’t run for whatever reason, the jockey receives half of the riding fee. 

Conditionals and apprentices, who are the less experienced riders and get a weight allowance for most races, are paid slightly differently. The Flat apprentices, effectively, get 80 per cent but the conditional jumps jockeys do get the same as their fully-fledged colleagues. All the rates are negotiated annually by the Professional Jockeys Association (PJA) and the Racehorse Owners Association (ROA).


Jockeys also get a proportion of the prizemoney won by the horses they ride. For the most valuable races this can be very lucrative. A jockey lower down the championship tables can significantly boost his earnings with victory in, for example, the Grand National or one of the big races on the Flat. 

How the riders’ prizemoney percentages are calculated is quite complicated and varies depending on the type of race. There are also differences depending on how many places prizemoney is paid in those races. As a general rule of thumb, Flat jockeys receive 8.5 per cent of the advertised win prizemoney and 2.61 per cent of the place prizemoney. Jump jockeys generally receive around 11.03 per cent of the win fund and 3.44 per cent of the place prizemoney.


Some of the top jockeys have ‘retainers’ to specific trainers or owners. For instance, William Buick is attached to Godolphin trainer Charlie Appleby and Jim Crowley is number one jockey to the powerful Shadwell racing operation. 

Over jumps, Daryl Jacob is retained by owners Simon Munir and Isaac Souede, while Harry Cobden rides as first jockey to champion trainer Paul Nicholls. Some of these arrangements will see the owner or trainer pay to secure a jockey’s services. Others will be mutually beneficial where a jockey will be guaranteed to ride top horses in many of the big races. 

Jockeys also supplement their income through sponsorship. For example, Hollie Doyle is sponsored by Sky Sports Racing and wears its logo on her riding clothing. Riders often have sponsored cars to try to offset the huge experience of travelling around the country to get to racecourses.


From a jockey’s riding fee there are plenty of people needing to be paid. Around ten per cent goes to the agent for booking his or her rides and three per cent goes to the PJA for membership of the jockeys’ union. The valet, who cleans, maintains and manages all the equipment needed to ride in races from saddles and boots to breeches and helmets, also takes a slice. They get ten per cent of the first ride on the day, 7.5 per cent for the second and five per cent of the third. Then there are charges for insurance, physiotherapists and a Weatherbys bank account which manages finances in horse racing.


The life of a jockey is an incredibly busy one. Getting to and from the races is extremely time-consuming and most spend early mornings riding out for trainers. They spend more time in a car than they ever do on a horse. 

The busiest jockeys can expect to do around a staggering 70,000 miles a year. Many riders try to share lifts to minimise costs but the surge in fuel prices over the last couple of years has, obviously, increased their bills. 

As jockeys are effectively self-employed, there will also be costs for accountants and administrators. After all the expenses have been paid, then, of course, the tax man comes calling. 

It certainly isn’t the life of a top footballer, that’s for sure.