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A Bug Boy is the nickname given to a jockey, male or female, who is in their first year of riding, and is also known as an apprentice rider. The term ‘bug boy’ is related to the fact that a weight concession symbol will often be seen next to the jockeys name in the racing programme, and that this symbol takes the form of an asterisk. The fact that the dot of the asterisk looks a little bit like a small insect, or ‘bug’ led to the nickname.
The impact of having a Bug Boy riding a horse when deciding whether to place a bet is likely to be minimal. The main point to bear in mind is that Bug Boys are often given a weight allowance, allowing their horse to carry less weight when racing. The allowance in question can be anything from 5 to 10lbs, and is given to make the race a little easier for the apprentice jockey and therefore to encourage trainers to give more Bug Boys a ride. When placing a bet on a horse ridden by a Bug Boy it’s worth bearing this weight allowance in mind, as it may impact on the performance and produce a result which isn’t necessarily reflective of previous form.
Every year, apprentice jockey’s in the UK compete for the prestigious title of ‘Stobart Champion Apprentice’. Previous winners have included William Buick, Ryan Moore, Frankie Dettori, Oisin Murphy and Josephine Gordon.