The new British Flat season started on Friday but was then just as quickly stopped again by the snow which means we still have a chance to weigh up the betting for the Flat Jockeys’ Championship.
Two names dominate the betting with defending champion Richard Hughes preferred to Ryan Moore. Hughes (a best 4/5 with bet365, Coral, Ladbrokes and William Hill) had 57 more winners than Moore in 2012 but the latter had to endure a season ravaged by injuries and you would expect him to come back strongly this year. He is 7/2 with Coral, Ladbrokes, Stan James and William Hill but unlike Hughes, who will get the pick of Richard Hannon‘s stable, may have to work harder for outside rides. His chief provider, Sir Michael Stoute, possibly doesn’t have the ammunition he once did.
Silvestre De Sousa, who will ride most of Godolphin‘s runners in the UK this year and should still pick up a few rides for old guv’nor Mark Johnston, can still make 7st12lb so shouldn’t be short of mounts. He was runner-up to Hughes last year and is 8/1 to go one better in 2013 with Stan James while John Gosden‘s stable jockey William Buick is 11/1 with the same layers. Buick managed 123 winners last year but his main retainer tends to concentrate on quality rather than quality and any title challenge will suffer as a result.
Paul Hanagan, winner of the title in 2010 and 2011, is now retained by Hamdan Al Maktoum and the switch to Newmarket last season saw his win return diminish. He’s 33/1 with BetVictor and Stan James to reclaim his title but I’d rather take a long look at Graeme Lee, who may well have replaced Hanagan as the most stylish jock on the northern circuit. Very few jockeys are able to make the switch from riding over jumps to the Flat but Lee has accomplished the change of style and regime with ease and will be a busy man over the coming months. He is 14/1 with Paddy Power and Stan James to show up the southern boys while Jim Crowley, another convert from jumps to the Flat, is 100/1 with Stan James.
Kieren Fallon has said he still harbours hopes of another title but you’ve got to question whether the weighing room veteran still has the energy to keep at the top of his game at two meetings a day throughout the summer. The bookmakers clearly don’t think so as he can be backed at 50/1 with Boylesports, Paddy Power and Stan James having managed less the half of the winner that champion Hughes rode last year.