Jockeys to follow at the Cheltenham Festival
Cheltenham Festival jockeys
In their efforts to beat the bookies, many punters will sway towards a selection based on which jockey will be aboard the horse. A whole host of top jockeys will contest all of the races at the Cheltenham Festival as they all bid to ride the most winners and thus claiming the jockey’s title award. But who should one keep their beady eye on and monitor closely come the big March showdowns?
There can be no place to start other than the fifteen-time champion jockey – Tony McCoy. Since riding his first winner in 1992 aged just seventeen, arguably the finest jump jockey to date has saddled over three thousand winners and one can be sure he is still hungry for success in the latest renewal of the Cheltenham Festival. His record at Prestbury Park can only be described as immaculate; listing the Gold Cup, Champion Hurdle and the Queen Mother on his glittering CV. One can only see him entering Cheltenham’s winning enclosure on a few more occasions in 2011 granted the top rides he will be given. Riding predominantly for the Jonjo O’Neill stable owned by JP McManus, AP can be noticed by his owner’s distinctive green and gold hooped jersey complete with a white cap. And while he may pick up rides for other top yards; Nicky Henderson and Willie Mullins to name just two; it’s always a good idea to keep a close eye on him as some racing enthusiasts say he can do no wrong on a horse. He would be an eye-catching jockey booking for any smaller stable, so monitor his mounts over the four days and one looks sure to be rewarded.
Winner of two of the last four runnings of the Gold Cup, Ruby Walsh looked destined for the top after his father Ted was a champion amateur jockey. Perhaps it runs in this Irish families’ blood because Ruby’s younger sister Katy is an up and coming apprentice star of the future. But Ruby remarkably was leading jockey at the Festival five times in the last seven years (including twelve months ago) and is sure to give it another huge crack in March. Being the top, established jockey Walsh is it comes as no surprise that he is given the very best chances of winning races from the top stables. And there are none better than master-trainer Paul Nicholls who has sent out an endless number of winners at Cheltenham, including three winners of the Gold Cup. Any horse which pairs this deadly duo together must be at the head of the market and their record at Cheltenham justifies it. Ruby will pick up other rides elsewhere for Irish trainer Willie Mullins and representing top yards is a given now for the Irish National Hunt champion. After all, he does have that small matter of the most wins in Cheltenham Festival history to his name!
Probably the best chance of an Englishman taking the jockeys’ title accolade is Richard Johnson. He has had great success at the Cheltenham Festival in the last decade and took the opener in the Supreme Novices’ at Prestbury last year aboard Menorah. He is one of only two jockeys riding today that has won all Cheltenham’s four championship races and is certainly one to follow closely. Johnson and top trainer Philip Hobbs have combined frequently to land success at Cheltenham and looks sure to do the same this time around.
This former Irish champion jump jockey will be teaming up with the powerful Nicky Henderson yard at the festival and one is sure to see the pair take several notable races. Since 2002, Geraghty has ridden nineteen winners at Cheltenham and became the first jockey to win all four championship races and the Grand National. He collected three wins last time at the festival and is one to keep on your side once more.
Go on Paddy! Go on Paddy! That was the roar from the Cheltenham crowd as Paddy Brennan delivered Imperial Commander late to take last years Gold Cup. The highlight of his racing career was this victory but can he continue in the same vein and bang in more winners at Cheltenham. Well, he already six wins to his name since 2006 and won another major race aboard Inglis Drever in the Ladbrokes World Hurdle almost four years ago. Brennan will once more be riding for the Nigel Twiston-Davies yard and is sure to be saddled with some good rides from this shrewd trainer.
Timmy is a jockey who must always be taken seriously. Riding for David Pipe on a regular basis he is a trusted jockey who is held in high regard by those who watch him. Another one from across the sea, he will occasionally pick up rides from other top stables and will head into the festival with as good a chance as most. He seems to ride winners with notable regularity during the season and must be feared come March.
Others not to overlook….
It would be unskilled and foolish to suggest just those mentioned above will dominate the 2011 Cheltenham Festival and if this article passed without the ratification of other top jump jockeys, well it wouldn’t be worth writing. And those others to look out for include Colin Tizzard who will take the rides for his father Joe and the early ante-post suggests they could have a winner with their impressive Cue Card, who could go for a number of races including the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle opener. Jason Maguire is another jockey to follow after his win aboard Donald McCain Jnr’s Peddler’s Cross in the Neptune Novices last year. Sam Thomas, Noel Fehily and Paul Carberry are other notable jockeys to follow while Sam Twiston-Davies (son of Nigel) looks sure to go well in the amateurs amongst others!
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