Kirby vs Morris – Who’s King of the All-Weather

Newcastle Racecourse

With the flat season coming to a close and the main focus switching to the National Hunt sphere, the All-Weather winter begins. With the days drawing in quicker, the floodlit courses make up the evening action and with the Synthetics coming back into prominence, so do two jockeys. If you think of the All-Weather surface, two names are likely to pop up: Adam Kirby and Luke Morris. Synonymous with the surface in recent years, they’ll be going to war once again, looking to crown themselves Champion All-Weather Jockey. In today’s article, I’ll be comparing both Kirby and Morris, trying to decipher who really is “the man” on this surface. If you’re looking for an All-Weather punt, our daily horse racing tips will satisfy your needs, as we offer evening tips every night!

Luke Morris (Four-time Champion since 2010)

On Championships alone, you couldn’t dispute that Luke Morris is the best current rider on the All-Weather. The current champion was thirteen winners clear of second-place Oisin Murphy last season, though if we delve into the stats, it’s not hard to see why. Morris rode a total of 617 horses last winter, with seventy-three returning winners, a twelve percent strike-rate overall. You have to go down to ninth-place Tom Marquand to find a worse strike-rate, and Marquand only rode 274 horses over the championship. Obviously, there is very good reason why Morris gets so many rides and much of that is down to his fantastic work ethic. No other rider in the top fifty broke the three-hundred barrier in terms of rides, which shows you just how determined Morris is. His understanding of the surface is also unparalleled, hence why he’s the pick of so many stables when they’re looking for an outsider rider, winning plenty of races through sheer tactics alone. His riding style is certainly unique, as the “Morris Drive” is certainly not replicated by any other rider and although it’s not pretty, it gets the job done.

Adam Kirby (Three-time Champion since 2010)

Three times a winner of the Championship since 2010, Adam Kirby has rapidly become a fan favourite over the years. A four-time Group 1 winning jockey, Kirby is retained by Clive Cox, riding for that stable when landing perhaps his biggest success of all on My Dream Boat to win the 2016 Prince of Wales’s Stakes. With all the talent and ability, it’s no shock to see that he’s won the All-Weather champion three times in the past eight seasons. That could certainly be seen as miraculous too, given each season he’s won it, Luke Morris has had far more rides overall. He last claimed the title in 2016/17, beating out Morris by ten winners, despite the fact he had 148 fewer rides. With much the best strike-rate of the two over the years and a far better (albeit negative) profit/loss to £1 stakes, it could easily be argued that Kirby is the better rider of the two. Granted the same amount of rides, there couldn’t be much doubt that Kirby would have run him down in previous seasons. That leads into a bigger question, however, of whether it is simply that Morris is more focused on the title and as a result is gaining more outside chances.

So who’s better?

There is no simple answer to this question and it depends how basic you want to look into the arguement. On bare facts alone, Luke Morris has more championships and statistically rides more winners as a result, so you could easily say he’s the better All-Weather rider. If you want to drill deeper, Adam Kirby has the better strike-rate by quite some margin and if granted the same amount of rides, you could easily argue he’d have run Morris out of it for all the times he’s taken the title in recent seasons. In my personal opinion, you’d struggle to get away from Morris as the better All-Weather rider, as there is a clear reason why he’s getting so many rides. Overall, in terms of who’s the better rider, I’d be leaning towards Kirby, as it’s testiment to him that he’s edged out Morris on a number of occasions with far fewer rides.

Can anyone catch the pair?

If you’re looking at the bare facts of recent seasons, then the simple answer is no. The pair have shared the title for a number of years now and it’s clearly no fluke that they’re riding the most winners. The two jockeys that have got closest in recent years are Oisin Murphy and Joe Fanning, with the former missing out by thirteen last year and the latter by twenty in 2016/17. That’s a big margin, but Oisin Murphy has been growing in stature over the recent years and is more than likely to get plenty of ride over the winter. Whether that’s enough to dethrone Morris, who has already ridden 122 horses to Murphy’s three, is another question.

You can find all the All-Weather meetings in our Racecard section, with most races each evening having a runner by runner preview!

Please Gamble Responsibly