It takes a certain type of character to flourish at the Cheltenham Festival and the top jockey market is a very competitive one among punters. Here’s how things stack up with under a week to go:
Ruby Walsh Best Odds: 3/1
Since the retirement of AP McCoy, or arguably even during his domination in Britain, Ruby has been touted as the game’s number one jockey but things haven’t gone quite to plan in the last couple of years.
Some have criticised the rider for choosing the wrong horse when given the choice of multiple Willie Mullins runners but he remains a world class pilot and will have the assistance once again of Ireland’s top trainer.
Walsh suffered injury when falling at Thurles in February but is reported to be fit and raring to go and once more tops the list of jockeys in the betting at a best priced 3/1 to be top jockey for an amazing 12th time with rides on the likes of Laurina, Melon and Ballyward to come as well as a choice to make between Bellshill and Kemboy in the Gold Cup.
Barry Geraghty Best Odds: 7/2
Geraghty has this week faced the blow of owner JP McManus pulling four of his horses out of the Festival, all of which would have been ridden by Geraghty, but he is still vying for favouritism in the top jockey race given the strength of his rides.
His price if anything still looks generous given that the jockey, who has won the Champion Chase five times, can look forward to rides on Buveur D’Air, Modus and Champ among others and the depth of his mounts over the four days means he would rate a very fair bet.
Davy Russell Best Odds: 11/2
Russell comes into the Festival this year as the defending champion in this race having won four races in 2018 and he once more has an enviable book of rides spanning the whole meeting.
His most high profile, but also most thought provoking given its preparation, is current favourite Presenting Percy in the Gold Cup on Friday and one thing is for sure; the 39-year-old former Gigginstown number one will ensure the eight-year-old gelding will not be left wanting for help from the saddle.
Jack Kennedy Best Odds: 6/1
Although not winning the title overall, Jack Kennedy matched Davy Russell’s total of four wins at last year’s Festival and that alone should mean he is high on everyone’s shortlist for this year’s title.
His overall book of rides is not fully confirmed yet but it is bound to be strong and in terms of quality, he has the awesome Apple’s Jade to look forward to in the Champion Hurdle where the mare is being touted to upset Buveur D’Air.
Nico De Boinville Best Odds: 12/1
There may yet be some fallout from the fact Nico is riding at Fontwell when many others are boycotting the meeting due to the row over prize money at ARC tracks, but nonetheless the rider who sprung to prominence when winning the 2015 Gold Cup on Coneygree stands a decent chance of landing a blow.
The first rider to Nicky Henderson surely must have a chance of winning given his boss’s strength in depth and with top rides on Angels Breath, Santini and of course the supposed banker of the meeting, Altior.
Harry Cobden Best Odds: 25/1
The timing may just be perfect for the 20-year-old and he is worth throwing into this list at a big price. Cobden still has a lot to learn, even he would admit that, but he has shown enough talent to become first jockey to Paul Nicholls and the form that stable are in right now could mean a bumper week for the young jock.
Other chances will of course come his way, such as on Give Me A Copper, Topofthegame, Friend Or Foe, Posh Trish and Quel Destin but his big moment may yet come in the Gold Cup where he is jocked up on Clan Des Obeaux who may yet go off favourite for the big race of the week and frankly he is hugely overpriced.