What are apprentice and conditional jockeys?

In Britain, apprentice and conditional jockeys are relatively young, inexperienced jockeys who, because of their lack of inexperience, can ‘claim’ a weight allowance when riding against fully licensed, professional jockeys. The terms ‘apprentice’ and ‘conditional’ are simply used to differentiate between such jockeys who ride on the Flat or under National Hunt Rules, although the weight allowances for each type of jockey vary slightly.

An apprentice jockey can claim 7lb until he or she has won 20 races, 5lb until he or she has won 40 races and 3lb until he or she has won 95 races. A conditional jockey can also claim 7lb until he or she has won 20 races and 5lb until he or she has won 40 races, but 3lb only until he or she has won 75 races. Very inexperienced conditional jockeys, who have won less than five races, can also claim an additional 3lb when riding for their employing trainer. Apprentice and conditional jockeys must be at least 16 years of age and eligibility for either type of licence expires when they turn 26 years of age or, of course, when they have won the requisite number of races.

How many winners must an apprentice jockey ride to lose his/her claim?

In Flat racing, an apprentice jockeys’ licence allows young, inexperienced riders – aged between 16 and 26 years – to receive a weight allowance, or ‘claim’, when riding against full professional jockeys to compensate for their initial lack of experience. According to Rule (F) 140 of the Rules of Racing, apprentice jockeys can claim 7lb until they have ridden 20 winners, 5lb until they have ridden 50 winners and 3lb until they have ridden 95 winners.

In other words, once an apprentice has ridden 95 winners, his or her apprentice licence becomes invalid and he or she is said to have ‘ridden out’ his or her claim. He or she is then required to apply for a full professional licence with six months. Of course, it is also possible for an apprentice to turn 26 before he or she has ridden out his or her claim, in which case his or her apprentice licence becomes invalid anyway and he or she must apply for a full professional licence immediately.