What Do The Different Colours Mean On Jockey Silks?

When you are picking a horse to bet on you should really be following some sort of research and knowledge of the form that the horses are in. But let’s face it, a lot of people are picking their horses based on things like Timeforms tips, name of the horse or design and colour of the jockey jacket.

It’s not the wisest of decisions but when you have been betting on jockeys based on the colour of their jackets, have you ever considered what the different colours actually mean on the jockey silks? We are going to investigate further below.

Represent owner

The shortened answer to this question is that they are a reflection of the design that the owner of the horse has adopted. The design and colours used in the silk worn by the jockeys is all to do with the owner and one of the privileges of having such a role – the jockeys and trainers have no say. Many owners describe the designing of their silk as one of the most explicit things they actually get to do.


Each design has to be individual in any given race and many owners will retain the same design throughout their time in charge. With no two jockeys allowed to wear the exact same outfit, how do the likes of the BHA make this happen? Well it comes down to the sheer vastness of choice which owners are permitted to design within. There are 18 basic colours to choose from, 25 different designs of shirts, 12 different sleeve designs and 9 hat designs. These designs include diamonds, circles, lines and chequers. If your design has already been taken, you will have to wait till the current owner who has that design auctions it off.

Registering and approval 

Once the design has been set on, the owner can register the given design and it will get ready for use for race day. Interestingly, if an owner is running 2 horses in the same race they will sometimes opt to have the horses wear the same colours and design with the only difference being the hat which the jockeys are wearing.

Famous silks

There are some very famous silks which have become distinctive over the years. Tony McCoys golden/yellow and green hoops were distinctive when he was riding for JP McManus as is Queen Elizabeth II’s distinctive familial silk which combines purple, red and gold embroidery. A number of famous silks have become very synonymous with winning jockeys and famous owners throughout time.

Wacky silks

Whilst there are the serious silks which signify something as serious as the British monarchy, there are a number of silks that have been made throughout time that are just plain wacky and out there. We have seen battenburg cakes, Cruella de Vil and the design of the American flag. Why don’t you give it a go and create your own design here?


The silks used by jockeys are vibrant and different for commentator use mainly but the different colours on jockey silks are purely the differing designs created by the owners of the horses in the sport.