jockey for position

Maneuver or manipulate for one's own benefit, as in The singers are always jockeying for position on stage. This expression, dating from about 1900, originally meant maneuvering a race horse into a better position for winning. It was transferred to other kinds of manipulation in the mid-1900s.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.