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What does it mean when a jockey claims weight?

When studying a horse race, you will often take a look at the weight a horse has to carry as it can make a big difference to your selections.

Sometimes, when an inexperienced jockey is on board, you will hear people talk about them claiming a certain amount of weight.

So, what does this actually mean?

Well, basically, as the jockey is inexperienced, they theoretically won’t have as good a chance of winning a race as an experienced jockey. For that reason, an allowance is given when these jockeys race against more experienced riders.

The allowances range from 7lb to 3lb depending on how many winners the jockey has had in the past.

An apprentice jockey on the flat can be between the age of 16 to 25. whereas in National Hunt racing a conditional jockey cannot be older than 26.

Here are the rider’s allowances so you can fully understand it:

Apprentice Jockey Allowances (Flat Racing):

  • 7lb until they have won 20 races
  • 5lb until they have won 50 races
  • 3lb until they have won 95 races.

Conditional Jockey Allowances (National Hunt Racing)

  • 7lb until they have won 20 races
  • 5lb until they have won 40 races
  • 3lb until they have won 75 races

In certain races a conditional jockey can claim an additional 3lb when riding for the trainer who employs them, if they have ridden less than 5 winners.

Amateur Jockey Allowances:

Amateurs v professionals:

  • 7lbs up to 20 wins
  • 5lbs up to 40 wins
  • 3lbs up to 75 wins

Amateurs v amateurs (including Hunterchases):

  • 7lbs up to 5 wins
  • 5lbs up to 10 wins
  • 3lbs up to 20 wins

The amount of weight a jockey can claim is generally indicated on the racecard with the amount of the allowance in superscript.

For example:

J: Jonjo O'Neill Jr ³

This indicates that the jockey Jonjo O'Neill Jr is able to claim a 3lb allowance in this race.

Remember when looking at a race to check the weight your horse is carrying minus any jockey allowances, as if a good claimer is in the saddle it may make a big difference.

Good claimers can be worth their weight in gold, remember many of the leading jockeys were also banging in the winners while claiming their allowances. So don't always discount the horse just because the jockey hasn't ridden out their claim.

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