Jockey challenge betting
The jockey challenge is a fairly recent innovation originating in Hong Kong circa 2008, allowing betting on which jockey will be most successful at a given meeting or over a series of races.
When we say most successful, in this bet that is not as simple as the jockey who rides the most winners. Instead the winning jockey is the one who accumulates the most points for the meeting.
Points are allocated for the jockeys who ride the first three placegetters in each race.
In Hong Kong racing, it is 12 points for first, 6 points for second and 4 points for third.
In Australian racing where the concept has flourished, it is 3 points for first, 2 points for second and 1 point for third.
Horse racing bet types
How the jockey challenge works
A set number of jockeys will be assessed and given prices based on the number of mounts they have and the prices of those mounts.
Note that not every jockey will be individually assessed and the ones who are not will come under the Any Other Jockey category and be given a price as a whole. The points earned by this category are not cumulative. IE, only if a single jockey in the Any Other Jockey category earns enough points on their own will the category be declared the winner of the jockey challenge.
On the Hong Kong tote, in-play betting is available, usually until the start of the sixth race. Of course the market will be suspended while each race is run and the odds will fluctuate wildly depending on results. Some corporate bookmakers betting on Australian meetings will offer similar in-play betting until the third race of a meeting.
(In the event of a dead-heat in a race, the points are shared. For example, if there is a dead-heat for third, each jockey would get 2 points under the Hong Kong system and half a point in Australia. The points-scoring breakdown under the Australian system tends to lead to more ties).
Jockey challenge rules to watch
Each operator will have their own rules, but there are several that most likely apply regardless of where you are betting.
If any jockey in the market fails to complete at least one of their riding engagements, all bets on the challenge will be void. (Note, if the said jockey is above a certain price in HK, bets on that jockey will be refunded and the jockey challenge will continue).
Betting is all-in, meaning if one of your jockey’s mounts is scratched it is tough luck. Alternatively, it is good for you if one of the rival jockeys has a mount scratched at the barrier or elsewhere.
If a meeting is abandoned the results of the jockey challenge may stand, depending on how many races have been run and which operator you are betting with.
Be sure to check the fine print as you would hate to believe you have won only to discover that’s not the case.
The rules vary between operators but most often bets will be voided if one of the named jockeys fails to complete at least one riding engagement on the day.
There is also a fair element of luck in play as if a jockey is indisposed and another jockey picks up the rides, they are credited with any points they accrue, not the original jockey.
Why bet on the jockey challenge?
It could be seen as the perfect bet for the recreational punter who likes to have an ongoing interest in a race meeting without re-investing on each race.
Useful for the time poor who might have a good idea or a solid opinion on who the best jockeys are but do not have time for detail study of the form. Just stick with riders you know will always get the best out of their mounts and avoid those who you believe do not.
Some of the bookmakers offering jockey challenge betting will allow you to combine bets from several different meetings into a multibet, giving the opportunity for a big return for a relatively small outlay.
The markets are quite fluid, meaning you can often find great disparity in the odds between bookies, so it pays to shop around, as always with gambling.
Tips for betting on the jockey challenge
1 Some jockeys excel at certain tracks
We have all heard the “horses for courses’’ mantra, and the same theory can be applied to jockeys. It’s worth checking which jockeys do well at the racecourse in question, particularly if it’s an idiosyncratic track such as Hong Kong’s Happy Valley, for example.
2 Class is permanent
It’s incredible how often the top riders in each jurisdiction will ride long-priced winners and placegetters. Take particular note if one of your favourites is having their first ride on a horse, as a quality rider can often spark sharp improvement.
3 Inside running
Inside barriers can be a distinct advantage at certain tracks (including Happy Valley in Hong Kong). If you notice an individual jockey with a string of runners drawn advantageous barriers, you could be finding some value as the jockey’s mounts are likely to have every chance in running.