The ‘Top Jockey’ betting at the Cheltenham Festival is always a fascinating market and provides punters with another sub-plot to keep them interested over the four-days of top-notch National Hunt action.
This can also be a cracking market that will keep you interested over the whole four days and hopefully right up till the last race. With many firms offering in-running odds and cashout options too then, again, this can be a fun add-on market to have an interest in – meaning you’ll have a runner on your side in most of the 28 races.
In recent year’s Ruby Walsh has dominated this market – ridding the most winners over the four days a staggering 9 times in the last 11 seasons, while in total the ‘silver fox’ pilot has landed the Cheltenham Top Jockey award 11 times.
However, with Walsh now retired this has opened the door for some new names to throw their hats into the ‘Cheltenham Top Jockey’ ring.
In 2019 we saw jockey, Nico de Boinville crowned top Cheltenham Festival jockey for the first time with three wins – Altior, Pentland Hills and William Henry. He’ll have the pick of most of the Nicky Henderson runners again this year and at around 8/1 in the betting is sure to attract some support.
Can Townend Take Advantage Of Ruby Absence?
With Ruby now retired, this will also give a much better chance to Paul Townend, who for so many years had to pick up the scraps that Ruby didn’t want to ride for the powerful Willie Mullins yard.
Townend will now get first dibs on the Mullins runners and will also pilot most of the Ricci runners this year too. He landed the Gold Cup last season at the Cheltenham Festival too – that was one of this two winners he bagged in 2019, with the being Duc Des Genievres in the Arkle Chase.
With the Mullins firepower behind him, it’s no shock to see Townend as one of the main fancies in the Cheltenham top jockey market at around 15/8.
His main rivals – if the betting is anything to go by – look to be weighing room veterans Davy Russell and Barry Geraghty.
Russell landed the top jockey honours at the Festival in 2018 for the first time with four wins, but – believe it, or not – Russell wasn’t on the scoresheet once in 2019!
Davy Russell will been seen riding a lot for trainer Gordon Elliott and the Gigginstown House Stud horses, plus is likely to ride one of the Festival ‘hot-pots’ in Envoi Allen. Therefore, it will be a massive surprise if he’s drawing a blank again in 2020 – he’s is around 9/2 in the betting.
Barry Geraghty, who has ridden 38 Festival winners during his career, was responsible for two winners during the 2019 Cheltenham Festival. Having the pick of the JP McManus-owned runners, then he’s going to be another popular choice at around 9/2.
However, during the 2019 Cheltenham Festival we saw a massive spread of different jockeys winning the 28 races – suggesting this market is going to be harder to call then any other year.
Of the 28 races, we had 20 different jockeys winning.
Girl Power – During the 2019 Cheltenham Festival it was also the turn of the ladies to make a name for themselves with Rachael Blackmore firing in two winners, plus Lizzie Kelly and Bryony Frost joining the party too with a win a-piece.
Of that trio, Rachael Blackmore looks to have the best chances and will have the Henry de Bromhead yard in her corner too. She’s around 6/1 in the betting to become the top Cheltenham Festival jockey and the first ever female to land the prize!
Further down the betting, we’ve got the likes of Nico de Boinville (10/1), who was the leading rider at the 2019 Festival with 3 winners and looks decent value at that price, Robbie Power (14/1), Mark Walsh (25/1), who rode 2 winners in 2019, and Harry Cobden (25/1). While the current UK champion jockey – Richard Johnson, who has 21 Festival winners under his belt – is around 33/1,
Jamie Codd rode two winners at last years Festival and is sure to pick up some good rides again in 2020. He looks a big price around 100/1 and if the spread of winners is shared out amongst the jockeys like last year then he might not be the worst shout in the world at those huge odds – especially if some firms are offering each-way.
In summary, Paul Townend, who has ridden 10 Festival winners to date, looks the one all the other have to beat with the powerful Willie Mullins yard behind him. However, at around 2/1 doesn’t look great value.
With that in mind, I’d prefer to side with BARRY GERAGHTY, who – as mentioned – will have an army of JP McManus runners to pick from – including the likes of Defi Du Seuil and Epatante – who are both at the head of the betting for the Champion Chase and Champion Hurdle.
Of the rest, I think a small interest on Rachael Blackmore might not be a bad call at around 6/1 – I think she can come out on top of the ladies and last year’s two winners will give her a lot of confidence.
Finally, the 100/1 on Jamie Codd just looks too big too me. He’s bound to be well-used again like in recent years and it will be a shock if he’s not firing in at least one winner.
BEST BET: BARRY GERAGHTY
Dangers: Rachael Blackmore & Jamie Codd
Recent Cheltenham Festival ‘Top Jockey’ Hall Of Fame
2019: Nico de Boinville (3)
2018: Davy Russell (4)
2017: Ruby Walsh (4)
2016: Ruby Walsh (7)
2015: Ruby Walsh (4)
2014: Ruby Walsh (3)
2013: Ruby Walsh (4)
2012: Barry Geraghty (5)
2011: Ruby Walsh (5)
2010: Ruby Walsh (3)
2009: Ruby Walsh (7)
2008: Ruby Walsh (3)
2007: Robert Thornton (4)
2006: Ruby Walsh (3)
2005: Graham Lee (3)
2004: Ruby Walsh (3)
2003: Barry Geraghty (5)
2002: Richard Johnson (2)
2001: Meeting Abandoned
2000: Mick Fitzgerald (4)
1999: Mick Fitzgerald (4)
1998: Tony McCoy (5)
1997: Tony McCoy (3)
Leading Current Jockeys At The Festival
Barry Geraghty (38)
Davy Russell (22)
Richard Johnson (21)
Paul Townend (10)
Nico de Boinville (10)
Tom Scudamore (10)
Mr Jamie Codd (9)
Bryan Cooper (8)
Sam Twiston-Davies (7)
Paddy Brennan (6)
Sam Waley-Cohen (4)