The most significant piece of equipment any race horse carries is the jockey. Blinkers and tongue ties may make a big difference, but when it is all said and done, the rider who pilots the horse and makes crucial decisions in a split second is the biggest key to success. Most past performances list equipment changes, though they still don't tell us about tongue ties, but which one notes a change in rider? You have to look for those yourself.
When a different jockey will be in the irons the astute handicapper makes a note of it and tries to figure out what that means to the performance of the horse and the sharpest horse players know it isn't all about jockey win percentages. There may be many reasons for a change and the most significant one is that the horse may have improved or declined since its last race.
That is what you really need to think about and question when you see the regular rider is off. The first thing to check is whether that new rider is one of the trainer's go-to riders. If a generic reinsman gets off and a rider with a high win percent for that conditioner gets on, that is a very positive sign. Does it signal an instant win? Certainly not.
There may be several reasons why a trainer will ask his or her favorite jock to get on a horse. Maybe the conditioner wants the rider's opinion about the animal or wants to try something different. It may also mean that the former rider decided he or she had enough and there is another mount that has a better chance of winning that is available. I think the best way to describe the often baffling business of musical riders is that there are wheels within wheels and you may never be able to figure out just why the rider switch occurred.
One way to find a clue as to the jockey switch is to check the recent works. Do you see an improvement? Is there an equipment change today? Let's say the trainer tried blinkers on the horse and got a much better workout time from it, that may be why a better jockey has been given the mount today.
If there is a suspicious lack of workouts, however, and a leading rider gets off the horse, it may signal a decline or even a physical problem such as lameness. If you are of a conspiratorial mindset, you might suspect that a lesser known jockey will keep the odds higher on the horse and that is why a no-name jockey has climbed aboard, but in my experience, things are seldom that murky in the world of training horses. The conditioners are pretty straightforward with their moves and if you take the time to learn a little about horse training, you'll usually be able to figure out the reasons for equipment changes or jockey switches.
If you want to learn how a horse owner and insider handicaps just go to http://horse-racing-handicapping.co and get the truth about betting on horses and winning. Bill Peterson is a former race horse owner and professional handicapper. To see all Bill's horse racing material go to Horse Racing Handicapping, Bill's handicapping store.