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Weight is the main factor in determining the outcome of races, particularly in handicaps. Horses are allocated a weight based on proven form and results against other runners in a race from the past. Jockeys can claim a certain amount of weight which reduces the horse’s burden and improves the chances of a win.
In theory, an inexperienced jockey is at a disadvantage compared to more experienced jockeys. An allowance is given when amateur or inexperienced riders compete against jockeys from the professional ranks, or with significantly more racing experience.
Allowances range from three pounds to seven pounds and depend on the number of winners the jockey has ridden.
An apprentice jockey is aged from 16 to 25 and a conditional jockey cannot be older than 26 but both can claim an allowance. The weight received by a claimer could make a difference to the outcome of a race.
The best jockeys are much sought after and can be worth a few lengths or few pounds. There are 450 professional jockeys and about 300 amateurs who can claim an allowance.
Claiming jockeys are either apprentices or conditionals and the allowance they receive depends on the number of races won. When a jockey reaches a set total the allowance is changed immediately.
A claimer reduces a horse’s race so in theory improves its chances. Some claimers are not worth the allowance while others are not far behind professionals in terms of ability so are better than the claim would suggest.
Punters must identify the best claiming jockeys as they will be given opportunities in major races because the allowance does not match the skills.