The rivalry between Ireland and England has died down quite a bit these days, but it still lives on in the equine industry. There is a clear and official distinction between the breeding, raising, riding, and training disciplines followed by the two rival nations, as we are all aware.
However, if one were to put their rivalries in light, who would come out on top? It’s a difficult task as there are so many minute aspects to consider here. To keep things simple, we will compare some of the two nation’s most successful jockeys and their performances with each other.
Lester Piggott (English)
“The Long Fellow” was nicknamed so because of his 5’8” height, which is considered to be unusually tall for pro jockeys in flat racing. Lester Piggott was and still is one of the most successful English jockeys of all time. 11-time winner of the British Flat Racing Champion Jockey of the Year Award, Piggott managed to win a total of 4,493 races in England, Ireland, and abroad. His most famous achievements include winning 30 British Classic competitions, including five 2000 Guineas, two 1000 Guineas, nine Epsom Derbies, six Epsom Oaks, and eight St Leger Stakes.
Sir Tony McCoy (Irish)
Sir Tony McCoy has won a whopping 4,358 races during his career, and he is one of the best hurdle jockeys of all time. With an astounding record in the British National Hunt hurdle races, the Irish jockey has won the competition for 20-years in a row. Sir Tony Mccoy’s title of Champion Jockey remained unbeaten throughout his long career.
Some of his most prominent wins include major events such as the Grand National, Irish Grand National, Scottish Grand National, Cheltenham Gold Cup, Champion Hurdle, King George VI Chase, Welsh Grand National, Midlands Grand National, RSA Chase, Ryanair Chase, Lexus Chase, Galway Plate, and the Queen Mother Champion Chase among several others. Anthony McCoy became Sir Tony McCoy in 2016 when he was Knighted for his outstanding achievements in horseracing.
Sir Gordon Richards (English)
Sir Gordon Richards may not have been the most successful English jockey in flat horse racing, but he is most certainly one of them. His 26 British flat racing Champion Jockey Awards are a testament to that fact. In total, Richards won more races than Lester Piggott, as he retired with 4,870 wins in his career. Other than that, the English jockey also managed to nab 14 British Classic wins as well. Sir Gordon Richards was Knighted in 1953 after he won the Epsom Derby that year in a dramatic finish.
Ruby Walsh (Irish)
Ruby Walsh came from a family of well-known jockeys and managed to become not only the most successful jockey in his family but also one of the most successful jockeys in Europe as a whole. Walsh Jr. has won over 2750 races in total, which includes major wins such as 12 Irish National Hunt Championships, 11-time Leading Jockey Awards at the Cheltenham Festival, 3 International Jockey of the Year Lester Awards, 2 Grand National titles, and so much more. The 20-time Champion Jockey is considered by Sir Tony McCoy as the greatest contender he ever had to race against.
What about the Present Day?
The four names mentioned here are each great jockeys, but they have also been out of the game for a long time. What about the present-day jockeys? Are English jockeys faring better than their Irish counterparts?
All you need to do is take a look at today’s racing results and find out for yourself. As it turns out, the world’s number one jockey is Ryan Moore (English) and there are no Irish jockeys in the top five these days, unfortunately. If we were to look back in time and only compare the greatest English and Irish jockeys with each other, determining which country had the best horse riders is a subjective decision.
We have already presented the facts, but now it’s time for you to decide the rest. From a neutral perspective, both nations have produced several fantastic jockeys and thoroughbreds, and they have won numerous races in not just Europe, but pretty much everywhere else in the world of Grade I horseracing. As of now, though, Irish jockeys seem to be lagging a bit behind their English counterparts.