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In any sport there are professionals and amateurs. The former earn a living from taking part and the latter are not paid and will usually have another source of income. Amateur jockeys can ride in races with fellow amateurs and professionals.
Jockeys are paid a riding fee for each race and a percentage of prize money, and those who commit to one trainer or owner are paid a fee to retain their services, while freelance jockeys are solely self-employed and are not attached to one particular stable.
Amateur jockeys receive no formal recompense for their services. They must apply for one of two types of permit that allows them to ride in races for amateurs or races for professional jockeys. Amateurs must display certain standards to be given a permit.
There are about 300 registered amateur riders in the UK who compete with about 450 professional jockeys. By definition an amateur cannot dedicate as much time as a paid jockey to improve their riding and gain experience in races. Therefore, a horse ridden by an amateur jockey will be at a disadvantage, and in certain races amateur jockeys receive an allowance that takes weight off the horse. The allowances are designed to compensate for the skills gap with professionals.
When backing a horse ridden by an amateur a bettor must assess whether the allowance makes up for the difference in ability. Some amateurs are good enough to compete against professionals and are worth the allowance. Horses ridden by a competent amateur still receive the allowance so they represent good betting value, other things being considered.
Conversely, an amateur may have shortcomings and the allowance does not compensate for skills’ gap. Horses they partner represent bad betting value. Therefore, it’s worth observing amateurs and determining if the allowance is for the right amount for their ability.