Silvestre De Sousa is the leading contender for the title having dominated the last two championships, however, there are would-be champions wherever you look in the weighing room who will be trying to wrestle the crown off him this season..
We profile six jockeys who will be hoping they will be crowned Champion Jockey on QIPCO British Champions Day at Ascot.
The three-time Champion Jockey is many people’s favourite to win the championship once again in 2019.
Last year, De Sousa showed his class and tenacity to come back from a slow start to win the championship convincingly. De Sousa finished 27 wins clear of his rival nearest Oisin Murphy by the close of the season.
The Brazilian matched the same amount of Champion Jockeys titles as Frankie Dettori and Ryan Moore, a feat he is “incredibly proud of”.
De Sousa works incredibly hard, he travels an incredible amount to get as many rides as possible in pursuit of the championship. This year will be no different.
As well as seeking another championship, de Sousa has said he will place a high priority on winning big races this season. This will be helped by his new association with King Power Racing who will undoubtedly have chances in many of the big races in 2019.
After finishing second behind De Sousa last year, many people believe the 23-year-old has what it takes to go one better this time round.
Murphy notched up 121 winners last year as well as winning some of the most coveted prizes in British racing. Murphy partnered a number of fantastic horses in 2018 but the best of the lot was superstar Roaring Lion. The pair won the Coral-Eclipse, the Juddmonte and the QEII on Champions Day to name but a few.
Despite having the support of both Qatar Racing and Andrew Balding, among others behind him, Murphy feels he will have his work cut out if he is to claim the coveted prize.
“Of course I will be doing my best to win it and it would be great if I could, but it is going to be a tough task.”
‘The Doyler’ had a successful season in 2018, racking up 106 winners in the process. The Godolphin second string jockey also enjoyed big Grade One victories in the Prince of Wales’s, the King George and the Yorkshire Oaks.
Doyle will be in the UK for much of the summer with both Saeed bin Suroor and Charlie Appleby certain to give Doyle lots of good-quality rides this season.
Doyle had the best strike rate of any jockey in the top 20 of the Flat Jockeys’ Championship last year with 23%. However, whether he can get enough rides to challenge for number one spot might be a concern. Nonetheless, a fantastic jockey with a great chance.
This season’s undisputed wildcard will be Jason Watson. A bonafide contender following last year’s breakout season and now the retained jockey of top trainer Roger Charlton. The young jockey has every chance of putting the cat among the pigeons and threatening the likes of top jockeys Oisin Murphy and Silvestre De Sousa.
Last year, Watson amassed 77 wins from 463 rides. Along the way he was well supported by leading trainer Andrew Balding who gave him the opportunity to ride several top prospects. This year he will hoping to make the most of his retainer whilst also leaning on his throng of training contacts if he is to have any chance of landing the yearly award.
Danny Tudhope recorded a career best last season and enjoyed the spotlight after landing plum rides on the likes of Soldiers Call trained by Archie Watson and the Karl Burke trained Group One winning filly Laurens. In total he had a total of 92 wins at a strike rate of 17% to finish 5th in the table.
Tudhope will no doubt compile a serious number of winners again this year and he’ll be hoping he can reach the elusive century. With that being said it will certainly take some effort to make up the 40 winners needed to battle the top two in the market.
The most experienced of the six is a previous Champion Jockey himself having landed the top prize during the 2016 season. Crowley, the retained jockey of the blue and white silked Sheikh Hamdan al-Maktoum won’t be short of ammunition when fighting for the top prizes, with the likes of this year’s Greenham winner Mohaather and Simon Crisford’s promising juvenile Jash.
However, whether the previous champion will pick up the number of rides needed to land the coveted prize remains to be seen.