What will it take to topple Ryan Moore as the world's leading rider?

Star attraction: Ryan Moore on autograph duty at Sha Tin after riding Maurice to victory in the Hong Kong Cup earlier this month. Photo: Healy Racing/Racingfotos.com

Ryan Moore is the undisputed TRC Global Rankings #1 jockey. He seeks to dominate and continues to meet this ambition on the world stage more weeks than not. So, what will it take for a rival to usurp him for the top spot in 2017? Which riders can do it? And what is it that gives Moore the edge?

The superficial answer to the last question is: the quality of his mounts. True, we don’t know that Moore is the best rider in the world independent of his book of rides. We know how to do that calculation, but it isn’t central to our remit, which is to produce classifications of global impact and dominance that are predictive of future success.

Moore has so thoroughly convinced the world’s top trainers and owners from Tokyo to Tipperary that he will continue to get the call on many of the best horses.

But, he has not always been our #1 jockey. He was last out of the top spot on May 15, 2015. The chart below shows his weekly ranking since the first week of the TRC Global Rankings evolution on January 5, 2014.

The evolution of Ryan Moore’s ranking on TRC Global Rankings

(vertical scale compressed)

The only thing that has held Moore back is injury. He broke his shoulder and thumb in a fall at Goodwood towards the end of 2011 and needed surgery. That was the year that results started counting towards the rankings, and he has since had problems with his neck and hip.

The TRC Global Rankings algorithm uses past results in the most intelligent way to reflect the world order in each of the four categories of Jockey, Owner, Trainer and Sire. The system knows how long to keep faith with the past results of each competitor via machine learning techniques, and it takes sustained success to make it to the top.

If we separate global Group and Graded race results by year, with the machine not allowed to know what has happened or will happen, the following riders would have led the rankings:

Leading rider each year by TRC Global Rankings

Using data discretely from that particular year only

Year

Overall TRC rank at year end

Name

Modal  country

Rnrs

Runs

IV

tRPR

G1 wins

G2 wins

G3 wins

All G wins

Pts

2016

        1

Ryan Moore

GB

101

189

1.75

102.85

20

9

17

46

1205

2015

        6

Javier Castellano

USA

105

171

1.61

99.52

17

10

18

45

1164

2014

        3

Ryan Moore

GB

112

167

1.46

100.18

15

8

8

31

1147

2013

        -

John R Velazquez

USA

89

141

1.47

98.80

13

13

11

37

1138

2012

        -

Nash Rawiller

Australia

75

118

1.76

97.41

11

8

11

30

1179

2011

        -

Frankie Dettori

GB

76

128

1.62

99.46

11

9

10

30

1176

You can see how successful Moore has been this year. But, look at 2015, when Javier Castellano would have led the world based on results for that year alone. At the end of the year, though, he was still only #6 overall in the main TRC Global Rankings of December 27, 2015. (This is shown in the second column of the table, for the years we have produced rankings). Guess who we had at #1? Correct, it was Moore:

Top six riders by TRC Global Rankings at the end of 2015

Rank

Name

Modal  country

Rnrs

Runs

IV

tRPR

G1 wins

G2 wins

G3 wins

Pts

1

Ryan Moore

GB

279

467

1.61

94.82

39

27

18

1049

2

Christophe Soumillon

France

171

332

1.62

93.82

16

22

30

1043

3

Frankie Dettori

GB

157

255

1.43

94.53

14

12

18

1031

4

John R Velazquez

USA

256

469

1.52

92.97

36

25

37

1028

5

Hugh Bowman

Australia

212

367

1.59

91.69

23

19

20

1026

5

Javier Castellano

USA

272

485

1.47

93.31

30

30

39

1026

Next to the current standings. This week, Castellano is one spot higher and Moore still reigns supreme. In the table below, We have added a final column which shows the deficit faced by the other leading riders:

Top six riders by TRC Global Rankings in the current classification

Rank

Name

Modal  country

Rnrs

Runs

IV

tRPR

G1 wins

G2 wins

G3 wins

Pts

Deficit

1

Ryan Moore

GB

270

494

1.86

97.17

50

27

29

1086

-

2

Hugh Bowman

Australia

218

402

1.8

93.52

28

26

23

1056

-30

3

Frankie Dettori

GB

195

349

1.59

94.83

20

22

23

1047

-39

4

Christophe Soumillon

France

176

344

1.65

93.34

19

21

33

1042

-44

5

Javier Castellano

USA

288

507

1.59

93.27

35

32

43

1036

-50

6

Mirco Demuro

Japan

95

164

1.74

90.06

10

7

13

1028

-58

We think we have Castellano pegged, while Frankie Dettori is unlikely to rank much higher at this stage of his career and Mirco Demuro may be nearing his ceiling too. That leaves Christophe Soumillon and Hugh Bowman as the men most likely.

Tomorrow we will show how they have done over the years in the top 100 annual performances by a jockey according to TRC Global Rankings.

France-based Belgian Soumillon is a brilliant talent and, like Moore, has pan-global appeal. He hasn’t made much progress between the two rankings iterations shown above (1043 points on December 27, 2015 and 1042 points in our latest classification), but that doesn’t mean he won’t do better in 2017. He has to bridge a gap of 44 points.

But it is Australian Bowman who is the closest to strike. Chances are he won’t rate much higher than his current 1056 points, but he showed at the recent Longines International Jockeys’ Challenge in Hong Kong that he can mix it with the best, and he will be there if Moore slips, or the injury bug bites him again.

But these are big ‘ifs’. Moore’s intangible qualities – his will-to-win, confidence and so-called ruthless streak – are often cited when a discussion of his merits is aroused. Fair enough. But, arguably his biggest edge is observable and measurable, however, and he didn’t need to learn it from his peers because Isaac Newton and Pythagoras had done the work for them: Moore has a brilliant racing brain and the physics and geometry of his job do not escape him for a second.

Moore really knows what he is supposed to be doing out there: solving a rapidly changing optimisation problem composed of saving ground, sparing energy while maximising the chance of a clear run. This isn’t going to change and he could even get better still, if his body permits good health.

Okay, so Moore comes over as a little miserable now and then. But, it is always a joy to watch him because he is the nonpareil that every sport needs. He has set the bar higher than Dick Fosbury, but the difference is he ain’t going to flop.

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