Five front-runners for this year's Flat Jockeys' title

Oisin Murphy was crowned champion Flat jockey last season.
Oisin Murphy was crowned champion Flat jockey last season.

With the race for this year's Flat Jockeys' Championship hotting up, Steve Chambers has profiled the five main challengers for the title after the first two months of the season...

Reigning champion jockey Oisin Murphy sits top of the current standings, but the Classic-winning rider will face some notable opposition in his quest to retain the coveted accolade.

At the time of writing before Thursday's racing began, Murphy is nine clear at the summit on 64 winners for the season, but there's an army of jockeys hot on his tail, and we look at the five jockeys that could be victorious when the title race concludes at Doncaster on November 7, 2020.

Oisin Murphy - 64 wins - 2/5

Let's start with the reigning champion and the bookmakers' favourite for the crown, Oisin Murphy. Around a 2/5 jolly to retain his title, Murphy has continued his sparkling form following the resumption of Flat racing, and his tally of 64 winners from 375 rides has catapulted him to the top of the tree. A memorable victory in the 2000 Guineas on board the Andrew Balding-trained Kameko gave Murphy his most prestigious success off the campaign, but it's the 24-year-old's busy schedule that helps maintain his advantage.

Having bagged the most rides this season on the Flat so far, Murphy currently has a 17% strike rate, a telling advantage considering that jockeys are currently restricted to riding at just one meeting per day. With race meetings taking place with larger cards than we'd normally expect at present, Murphy should have enough firepower to maintain his lead.

William Buick - 52 wins - 3/1

A spectacular four-timer at Newmarket on Saturday continued William Buick's sensational form in the saddle, and having been as big as 33/1 for a first title, Buick is now available at 3/1 - and sits as the second favourite behind Murphy. Having only had 219 rides so far this season, Buick is sitting on a sensational 24% win rate, and with his retainer Godolphin sure to provide him with a host of winners over the next couple of months, he could be a real threat to Murphy.

Buick's current hot spell will need to continue as we head into the second half of the season and look forward to the Ebor Festival at York, but the ice-cool jockey will be hoping that his fine winning run of late can help him grab a few more rides on a daily basis, and if he can get the leg up on more horses then he has to be considered for the title.

Tom Marquand - 55 wins - 11/2

Success in Australia with Addeybb catapulted Tom Marquand into the limelight as racing on British shores was halted due to the Coronavirus pandemic, and the 22-year-old has maintained his fine form on home soil - currently sitting second behind Murphy in the standings. Marquand knows what it takes to win a jockeys' title having been champion apprentice in 2015, but it's the big accolade he's going in search of in 2020, and he's an 11/2 shot to claim glory.

Riding 29 winners in July, Marquand showed a high level of consistency in the saddle and a last-gasp victory on board One Master at Glorious Goodwood last week saw him sparkle on the biggest stage, but with only a 15% strike rate (55 wins from 359 rides) Marquand may just falter in the closing stages as far as the title is concerned.

Ben Curtis - 51 wins - 16/1

Prolific on the all-weather over the winter - claiming the all-weather jockeys' championship - Ben Curtis would've been a rather left-field option for many, but he has continued his success in the saddle since racing's resumption, and is proving a popular jockey among trainers.

Only Murphy and Marquand have had more rides this season on the Flat with Curtis, who has racked up 333 rides alreadt, but his quest for success has petered out a little of late. A haul of 30 winners in June kicked off his quest for the jockeys' title in fine style, but a meagre 16 winners in July saw him fall behind Murphy and Marquand, and while he has made good progress in August - bagging five winners already - another barren spell will all-but seal his place as a nearly man this season.

Hollie Doyle - 46 wins - 66/1

Five winners already this month has seen Hollie Doyle enter the fray to become champion jockey, and while she is unlikely to challenge for the title (66/1 to be victorious) Doyle's continued success in the saddle means that she can't be ignored. Fifth in the current standings at the time of writing, Doyle has a 16% strike rate this campaign, but having nearly had 100 less rides than Murphy to date (280 rides), Doyle may just lack the firepower to challenge seriously.

Like Curtis, Doyle was prolific on the all-weather, and she has bagged 81 winners this calendar year, but with the big guns returning to the saddle for the summer exertions, Doyle will have to play a secondary role - but who's to say she won't be a future champion jockey!

Today's Racing Naps

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