How Does A Jockeys Claim Work?

jockey sat down

Knowing how a jockeys claim works isn’t rocket science. However, (3), (5) or (7) next to a name can be confusing when looking at horse racing form.

When it comes to a jockeys claim, these numbers are weight deducted from the amount a horse has to carry because of its overall handicap mark.

There are different rules on the flat and over the jumps. Below, we’re going to break down every aspect of how a jockeys claim works…

Editors Note: Regardless of the jockeys claim, you’ll be needing value odds in order to win. If you haven’t got one already, you’re better off using a Betfair Exchange account. Get one with a £20 risk-free bet here (t&c’s apply).

What Is A Claiming Jockey?

A claiming jockey is basically a young jockey learning their trade. It is assumed that they will make more mistakes while learning and therefore they receive a weight allowance to balance this. Finding an excellent claiming jockey is gold-dust for any stable and you’ll hear the term “value for their claim” from the trainer.

jockeys claim highlighted on a race card

Being value for their claim means that they might get to claim 3lbs off the horse, but they are just as good as more experienced jockeys. Most punters feel that 1lb equals one length at the finish, so you can see what a huge difference a jockey claiming 7lbs can make.

Every claiming jockey gets an allowance, and that allowance is based on how many winners they have ridden. It’s different for each code.

Jockey Claims for Horse Racing:

Jockeys who can claim are called different names under flat and jumps rules. A claiming jockey on the flat is called an apprentice while on the jumps they are called a conditional.

An apprentice jockey on the flat will get an allowance of:

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

There are also special allowances towards winners in apprentice only races. As you might assume, an apprentice jockey who has won 90 races is already very experienced. Still having a 3lbs claim would be a huge boost in the handicap in that case. Whereas on the flip side, an apprentice who claims 7lbs but has only ridden one winner might not be as strong as the other jockeys and the claim might not make a difference, it might result in the horse getting a bad ride. An apprentice jockey must be between 16 and 25 years old.

A conditional jockey on the jumps loses their claim quicker.

Conditional Jockey Allowances:

  • 10lbs if they have ridden less than five winners and are riding for their own stable (only get an extra 3lbs for their own stable rides)
  • 7lbs until they have won 20 races
  • 5lbs until they have won 40 races
  • 3lbs until they have won 75 races

Another difference between an apprentice and a conditional is that a conditional can claim until they reach 26 years old. Once they go over 26 years old they lose their claim. There’s a huge amount of jockeys who really struggle once they have lost their claim because trainers stop using them.

Every trainer is looking for an edge on the handicapper, and using a claiming jockey is a great way to do that. For example, if a horse wins and gets a 7lbs penalty for winning – a trainer can find a 7lbs claimer and the horse races off the same weight. In theory, if the jockey is good, they are “7lbs well in” at the handicap. Finding an excellent apprentice or conditional jockey is easier said than done though!

Related: Guide to Horse Racing Types, Grades & Classes

10 thoughts on “How Does A Jockeys Claim Work?

  1. Great content.

    This are those things that a guy that was not born and raised in a “racing” country rarely learns unless actively seeking for this type of knowledge.

    Thanks for adding some more.

  2. hi please can you help this is totally confusing me, a horse called fieldsman won tonight at lingfield carrying 9st 6lbs next to it in brackets it had (4lb ex) its previous race it was carrying the same weight 9st 6lb does this mean it was actually carrying 9st 10lb less a 5lb claim by the jockey riding tonight thus was it carrying 9st 5lb

    1. Ex figure is the extra weight carried as a penalty for a recent win before the handicapper has had a chance to re-assess its ability. Horses are assessed weekly, so in the example you mention, the horse was carrying an extra 4lb because of it’s previous win.

  3. In your example above, with jockey Danny McMenamin showing a 5lb claim, does that come off the 11-7 weight shown against Carrigmoorna Matt to reduce it to 11-2; or has the 5lbs already been deducted from 12-0, so as to bring the ‘revised’ weight down to the 11-7 as shown?

    1. The weight comes off the published weight, so if it says 11st 7lb a 5lb claim would reduce it to 11st 2lb, also if it has a handicap mark of 121 it would in effect be 116 with a claim of 5lb. Hope this helps

  4. Racing bets are wakkii bakkiis unless you understand all of this stuff… im a noob trader so ill stay well away until i educate myself. Thanks for sharing… hope you continue to thrive in this world

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