The Tallest Professional Jockeys Ever

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A jockey and horse blaze down the track.
BetMGM @BETMGM Oct 28, 2021, 4:05 PM

Many people around the world enjoy sports for many reasons, including online sports betting. Horse racing is one sport that’s enjoyed for the excitement it brings to sports fans and sports bettors alike. As a jockey, it’s commonly accepted that smaller and lighter is better, as a shorter individual’s frame is smaller and will carry less weight, but will still be strong enough to manage the horse. 

That being said, not every jockey has been short. Some jockeys have actually been tall and still managed to achieve varying degrees of success. Join us as we take a look at some of the tallest individuals to ever ride in the amateur and professional scene, and in all types of horse racing.

3. Bruce Hobbes – 6’1.5”

Bruce Hobbs was born in 1920 and raced as an amateur before going professional in 1937. However, he experienced a career-ending fall in 1938 which broke his spine. He was able to recover but the lives of many young men, including his, changed forever when they were drafted into the British Army to fight in World War II. He served between 1940 and 1945, reaching the rank of Captain and receiving the Military Cross. 

After the war, he returned to horse racing as a trainer, finding a way to pursue his first passion. He worked for various individuals and organizations over his career, but he worked the longest for the Palace House (now the National Horse Racing Museum), where he trained riders and horses between 1966 and 1985.

2. Stuart Brown – 6’3”

Stuart Brown may be the tallest jockey to achieve success in his home country of Australia. Over Brown’s 20-year career, he was able to achieve over 200 wins, an incredibly impressive feat, even if he wasn’t able to translate that success over to the international stage, like US horse racing, due to its incredibly high levels of competition. 

Unfortunately, Brown’s life ended very early as he was diagnosed with cancer, and passed away at the age of 43. While cancer affects us all in different ways, his mother commented on the lengths Brown had to go through to keep weight off, and the strain it put on his body, which undoubtedly affected the rider’s ability to battle with the disease. The Daily Mail reported that his funeral was attended by over 500 people, undoubtedly a clear indication of the impact and role he had on the Australian racing scene.

1. Patrick Sankey – 6’7”

As a rider with numerous races under his belt, Patrick Sankey is undoubtedly the tallest person to ever regularly compete in horse racing and win. As a taller rider, victory was elusive, but his efforts paid off in 2019 when the Welsh jockey finally earned a win, despite the fact that he was 10lbs heavier than expected. In an article from RacingPost.com, author Carl Evans highlights the incredible challenge this rider had to overcome:

At 6ft 7in Sankey sits neatly on a horse, but it has been ghastly to consider his diet, one that began in earnest five years ago when he first rode in a race.

Since then there has been the introduction of a 5lb allowance for riders taking part in open races if they have ridden fewer than five winners. Sankey needed that like a plate of doughnuts, and for the past two seasons has had to avoid such contests, opting to pay subscriptions to three different hunts in order to target their members’ races.

The plan paid off, and on his 29th ride he and his 14-year-old horse struck, finishing strongly despite carrying 10lb overweight at 12st 10lb. Sankey said: “I just felt relief to have finally done it – it was a great experience, the absolute buzz. There is nothing like it.”

Considering his size, we think Sankey has every right to be extremely proud of his win.

Honorary mention: Manute Bol – 7’7”

Manute Bol was a former professional NBA player who played for various teams over his basketball career, including The Washington Bullets, Golden State Warriors, Philadelphia 76ers, and Miami Heat. However, he also rode professionally in a charity horse racing event, which is why he has been added as an honorary mention on our list.

In order to raise funds for his home country of Sudan, Bol registered with the Indiana Horse Racing Commission as a jockey, becoming the tallest professional jockey ever, at least on paper. Unfortunately, it was reported that even though the 7’7” former NBA player weighed in alongside all the other jockeys, he didn’t actually race, possibly due to arthritis, which had plagued him for many years.

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Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.

Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.