The World’s Tallest Jockeys

Features | 21st February 2022

You might think you need to be short to be a jockey, but history proves jockeys come in all shapes and sizes. Here we profile six of the tallest jockeys to compete in Britain.

The constraints of riding to specific weights has always attracted shorter men and women to the sport but there are plenty of others who, quite literally, stand head and shoulders above the rest.

Lester Piggott ‐ arguably the greatest jockey of them all – was known as the Long Fellow due to his height. More recently, three‐times champion jockey Richard Hughes was so tall he was nicknamed the ‘window cleaner’ by some of his weighing room colleagues.

Jump jockeys ride at heavier weights so are often taller than their Flat counterparts. 

Here’s a look at three of the tallest riders from each code.

Adam Kirby

Height: 5ft 11
Minimum riding weight: 9st 0lbs

Adam Kirby has long been the jockey Godolphin trainer Charlie Appleby turns to when his retained riders William Buick and James Doyle are otherwise disposed.

So, when Adam became available ahead of last year’s Derby, he was quick to snap up his services for his third‐string Adayar.

It proved a masterstroke as the lanky rider gave him a beautiful ride to land the greatest Classic.The 33‐year‐old has been no stranger to big‐race glory. He has been associated with some of the best sprinters of recent times having partnered Lethal Force, Harry Angel, Profitable and Golden Horde to Group 1 wins.

All of those horses were trained by his main supporter, Lambourn‐based Clive Cox. With such powerful backers Adam is likely to continue to scale the heights.

Adam Kirby Tall jockey

James Doyle

Height: 5ft 9ins
Minimum riding weight: 8st 8lbs

When James Doyle burst on to the Flat racing scene it was obvious he had everything needed to be a star.

Despite growing into one of the tallest riders in the weighing room on the Flat, the 33‐year‐old has lived up to that early promise.

It hasn’t always been so simple. After riding 73 winners in 2006 he found life tough when he lost his apprentice jockey’s weight claim and even considered quitting for a career as a plumber.

His big break came when joining Roger Charlton and he was an immediate hit, riding Al Kazeem to four Group 1 wins. It led to top owner‐breeder Khalid Abdullah making James his number one. He partnered Kingman to another four top level victories before Godolphin came calling.

Now firmly established ‐ alongside his great friend William Buick ‐ as retained rider to Charlie Appleby, he often jets around the world to put on the distinctive all‐blue silks in some of the world’s biggest races.

Ali Rawlinson

Height: 5ft 11
Minimum riding weight: 8st 10lbs

Ali Rawlinson has always been a grafter. He is one of those dependable jockeys you don’t see too often in the top races but, when you do, he
doesn’t let anyone down.

His biggest win to date came on Jim Goldie’s grand old veteran Euchen Glen in the 2018 John Smith’s Cup at York. He also twice won the Scottish Sprint Cup for his main ally Mick Appleby.

As one of the tallest jockeys riding on the Flat, he’s always going to be missed when he’s not there. He had to endure an enforced absence last summer.

The 29‐year‐old smashed his ankle and broke four ribs in a fall at Windsor last June. Following two operations to pin his ankle, he only returned to the saddle last month. Now back fighting fit, he is sure to be adding to his career haul of more than 200 winners at regular intervals this year.

Ali Rawlinson - Tall jockey
Ali Rawlinson in action

Ryan Mania

Height: 5ft 11
Minimum riding weight: 10st 4lbs

When he won the Grand National as a young jockey on 66‐1 outsider Auroras Encore, the future looked bright for Ryan Mania. He was just 23 years old, had become established in the north and his profile was rising.

Just 18 months later, Ryan had packed it all in. Despite enjoying the best season of his career the following year, the struggles keeping his weight
under control had got so bad he wasn’t enjoying it any more.

The Scottish‐born rider spent five years away from race‐riding but, after a spell as assistant trainer to his father‐in‐law Sandy Thomson, he made a comeback.

Having improved his diet through a better understanding of sports nutrition, he returned in 2019 and hasn’t looked back. Last year, he rode Vintage Clouds to land the Ultima Chase at the Cheltenham Festival and, in November, he won the Paddy Power Gold Cup on Midnight Shadow. The 33‐year‐old is walking tall again.

Davy Russell

Height: 5ft 11
Minimum riding weight: 10st 9lbs

There isn’t much Davy Russell hasn’t seen or done during his long career in the saddle. Now the senior jockey riding over jumps in Ireland, his haul of big races includes the Cheltenham Gold Cup on Lord Windermere and two Grand National victories on Tiger Roll.

Not even a horrific back injury sustained in a fall in last season’s Munster National could stop the 42‐year‐old from doing what he loves.
Many people expected him to call it a day but the three‐times Irish champion jockey fought back from broken, crushed and dislocated vertebrae, to make a remarkable comeback.

Although the minimum weight he gets down to these days is 10st 9lbs, it hasn’t stopped him adding more big‐race wins to his CV.

This season he has won both of Leopardstown’s top Grade 1 chases. He partnered Galvin to win the Savills Chase over Christmas and rode Conflated to victory in the Irish Gold Cup at the Dublin Racing Festival.

Davy Russell Tall jockey

Jack Andrews

Height: 6ft 4
Minimum riding weight: 10st 2lbs

There’s tall jockeys, there’s taller jockeys and then there’s Jack Andrews.

Some might think the 23‐year‐old would be better suited to basketball but racing was always going to be the draw despite his beanpole frame.

His older sisters Gina and Bridget are both successful jockeys and his parents Simon and Joanna also rode as amateurs. Incredibly, despite towering over all of his weighing room colleagues, Jack can still get down light enough to ride at 10st 2lbs. He puts it down to eating the right things and being naturally light-framed.

It’s clearly working as the 5lbs claiming conditional jockey has already ridden a dozen winners this season and he regularly rides for top trainer Dan Skelton.