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Cheltenham Top Jockeys

Nick Murphy | 20 February 2019

The Cheltenham Festival Top Jockey award goes to the jockey who wins the most races across the four-day Prestbury Park Festival each year.

It has a long and storied history, although one man has dominated the Cheltenham Top Jockey accolade in the last decade or so. Ruby Walsh has claimed the award in nine of the last 10 years, with only a fall on the second day last year denying him a chance of claiming a 12th title.

Davy Russell rode away as Top Jockey at the 2018 Cheltenham Festival with four winners. And four tends to be the optimum number to win the award.

Walsh has managed to win with three in 2014, 2010, 2008, 2006 and 2004, but with 28 races across the week, four winners usually provide a nice gap to the next best jockey.

Top Jockey Odds

The Cheltenham Festival Top Jockey market is determined by which rider pilots the highest number of winners across the four-day event.

If two jockeys are level on a certain number of winners, the Top Jockey is decided by the highest number of second-place finishes recorded between the pair.

Should this also finish the level then it’s down to which jockey has the most third-place finishes, and so on.

Top Jockey favourites

All the usual names are in the running to be Top Jockey at the 2019 Cheltenham Festival. They include Walsh, two-time winner Barry Geraghty and highly-rated young gun Jack Kennedy.

The foremost pair have won the award in 10 of the last 11 years. Only Davy Russell’s success at the 2018 Cheltenham Festival broke the spell.

Russell remains among the contenders in 2019, with Nico De Boinville and Paul Townend rounding out the top six in the betting.

Cheltenham - Jockey Paul Townend

Paul Townend riding Next Destination clear the last to win The Irish Daily Mirror Novice Hurdle at Punchestown, 2018

Ruby Walsh – 11/4

Walsh’s partnership with Irish supremo Willie Mullins usually makes him the favourite to be named Cheltenham Festival Top Jockey. And there’s no change in 2019.

The Irishman has been blessed with plenty of hotpot favourites down the years. They’ve contributed to him being named Top Jockey 11 times since 2004, and on nine occasions in the last 11 years.

The 39-year-old will have the pick of Mullins’ runners at the Cheltenham Festival. That means he’s guaranteed to be on board a number of the week’s leading favourites.

However, that list isn’t as extensive as it once was. Footpad in the Champion Chase and Bellshill in the Gold Cup are among his chances, along with Laurina in the hotly-contested Champion Hurdle.

Cheltenham Jockey -Ruby Walsh riding Bellshill

Ruby Walsh riding Bellshill (L) clear the last to win The Unibet Irish Gold Cup from Road To Respect and Sean Flanagan (R) at Leopardstown Racecourse in Dublin, 2019

Barry Geraghty – 10/3

Geraghty’s partnership with leading owner J. P. McManus means the Meathman is guaranteed a number of top rides from the likes of Nicky Henderson, Nick Gifford and Joseph O’Brien.

His 2019 Cheltenham Festival playbook could include the likes of Buveur D’Air in the Champion Hurdle, Champ in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle and Defi Du Seuil in the JLT Novices’ Chase.

All three are favourites in their respective races. And that’s without potential engagements in the Gold Cup with Anibale Fly, Epatante in the Dawn Run and Birchdale in the Albert Bartlett.

The Irishman is guaranteed to pick up a number of other interesting rides in between. He’ll fancy his chances of adding to his Cheltenham Festival Top Jockey crowns from 2012 and 2003.

Jack Kennedy – 11/2

Kennedy is the young pretender to the likes of Walsh, Russell and Geraghty, and he’s certainly not one to be taken lightly in the 2019 Cheltenham Festival Top Jockey betting.

He showed that at the 2018 Cheltenham Festival, where he rode four winners and only missed out on the Top Jockey award by virtue of countback after finishing level with Russell.

He’ll be hoping to go one better this year. His partnership with Gordon Elliott and Gigginstown will give him plenty of opportunities to become the Top Jockey for the first time.

Second-favourite Apple’s Jade in the Champion Hurdle, and Battleoverdoyen in the Ballymore and the returning Samcro, will be among Kennedy’s best chances. Don Poli and Shattered Love are just two of his potential rides in the Gold Cup.

Davy Russell – 9/2

After emerging as the Cheltenham Festival Top Jockey for the first time in 2018, Russell will be eager to retain his award this time around.

He has plenty of chances. Not least with Cheltenham Gold Cup favourite, Presenting Percy, who returned to action with a lovely win in the Galmoy Hurdle at Gowran Park in January.

Delta Work in the RSA Chase is his other big chance, although the Youghal native will pick up plenty of rides for numerous English and Irish trainers as well as a number for Gigginstown.

Cheltenham Jockey Davy Russell riding Tiger Roll

Davy Russell riding Tiger Roll clear the last to win The Randox Health Grand National Handicap Steeple Chase at Aintree racecourse

Jockeys with an outside chance

Nico De Boinville is next best for a shot at Cheltenham Festival Top Jockey at 8/1. He should be guaranteed one winner at least with Altior in the Champion Chase, with Santini being another big chance in the RSA Chase.

Supreme favourite Angels Breath is among his other chances, while Might Bite will be hoping to go one better in the Gold Cup after finishing runner-up in the renewal 12 months ago.

Paul Townend (12/1) and Daryl Jacob (20/1) should pick up a number of decent rides, although it’s Mark Walsh’s connection with Joseph O’Brien which interests us at 25/1.

The Irishman has Sir Erec and Le Richebourg among his main contenders and with a couple of surprise wins along the way could challenge the main contenders.

Richard Johnson (20/1), Harry Cobden (25/1), Noel Fehily (33/1), Robbie Power (33/1) and Rachael Blackmore (100/1) are among the Top Jockey outsiders.

Harry Cobden riding Clan Des Obeau and Nico de Boinville at Ascot, 2019

Harry Cobden riding Clan Des Obeaux (R) clear the last to win The Betfair Denman Steeple Chase from Terrefort and Nico de Boinville at Ascot Racecourse, 2019

Recent Top Jockey winners

The Cheltenham Festival Top Jockey winners list is dominated by one man – Ruby Walsh. The 39-year-old has won the title a record 11 times.

Other famous names to have claimed the award include Mick Fitzgerald, Tony McCoy, Richard Dunwoody and Peter Scudamore.

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