5 Jockeys to Follow at the Cheltenham Festival 2019

Ruby Walsh talking to Willie Mullins

Picking the right horse is often only half the battle, the jockey sitting onboard your selection regularly making the difference between a winner and a loser. Cheltenham Festival is perhaps the most important time at which to consider your jockey selections, given that some can handle the pressure, and others can’t.

Just as a horse’s course form is important at Cheltenham, it is important that the riders knows how to get the best out of their mount at Prestbury Park. Here we take a look at five jockeys, and their best chances of success, who won thirteen of the twenty-eight races at the 2018 Festival and whom have 128 winners between them, who it is often best to have on side. Be sure to use our Cheltenham Tips to provide added assistance in making your Festival selections.

Ruby Walsh

No points for originality here, but his record speaks for itself, having ridden 58 Festival winners, scooping the winning jockey award eleven times in the last fifteen seasons. He is at his most prolific when hurdling, scooping five Supremes and Stayers’ Hurdles, and remarkably eight Mares’ Hurdles.

He certainly isn’t averse to chase wins however, having won two Gold Cups in 2007 and 2009 onboard Kauto Star, and he’s won three of the last four Arkles. It certainly helps being the stable jockey for Willie Mullins, the winning-most trainer in Festival history, who supplied him with two winners last season before injury ended his week.

  • Won three of the past four Arkles – this year he rides Duc Des Genievres
  • Won four of the past eight Champion Hurdles – this year he rides the mare Laurina
  • Won eight of the past ten Mares’ Hurdles – this year he bids for repeat wins on Benie Des Dieux, whom he has said is his best chance of a win this year
  • Won the 2015, 2016 and 2017 JLT Novices’ Chase – this year he rides Real Steel
  • Won five of the past ten Stayers’ Hurdles, and would have been onboard last year’s winner Penhill were he not injured –  this year he rides Faugheen

He can cherry pick from the Mullins’ runners in a variety of the week’s race, with options in the Supreme and Ballymore between Klassical Dream and Aramon, between Min, Footpad and Un De Sceaux in either the Champion Chase or the Ryanair, and from Kemboy, Bellshill and Al Boum Photo in the Gold Cup. We certainly like the look of Kemboy in the Blue Riband event.

Barry Geraghty

Second on the all-time list is Geraghty, who has had a winner at every Festival, apart from 2017, since riding Moscow Flyer to victory in the 2002 Arkle. His cause is helped by support from JP McManus, making him available to take rides from both Nicky Henderson and Joseph O’Brien, who come into the Festival with a host of well-fancied runners, as well as a number of other trainers.

  • Won four of the past ten Triumphs – this year he will ride either Sir Erec or Gardens Of Babylon
  • Won the Grand Annual last year on Le Prezien – he comes into the race just a pound higher than when winning last year
  • Won the Champion Hurdle last year on Buveur D’Air, whom he will be hoping to guide the horse to his third win in the race

Operating at 26% this season, he comes into the Festival in top form. He looks likely to ride numerous favourites, with Champ in the Ballymore, Defi Du Seuil in the JLT and Buveur D’Air in the Champion Hurdle, who has a great chance of winning the race for the third year in a row.

He also has a decent chance in the Albert Bartlett with Birchdale, although he might face competition with Mark Walsh for the rides of Fakir D’oudairies in the Supreme and Sir Erec in the Triumph.

Davy Russell

The evergreen Russell had his best Festival yet in 2018, winning the leading jockey award with four wins. Benefitting from a great relationship with Gordon Elliott, and also the support of numerous smaller Irish trainers including Pat Kelly, he has twenty-two Festival winners, sixth on the all-time list.

  • In 2013 he won the RSA on Lord Windemere before winning the Gold Cup in 2014 aboard the same horse – he will hope to do the same this year with Presenting Percy
  • Won the last three Pertemps Handicap Hurdles, with Mall Dini, Presenting Percy and Delta Work – this year, he may ride Sire Du Berlais, the current favourite for the race
  • He has won at the Festival onboard Presenting Percy in the past two years – he will be hoping to make that three years in a row in the Gold Cup
  • All four of his winners last year come into the Festival with live chances – Presenting Percy in the Gold Cup, Delta Work in the RSA, and The Storyteller and Balko Des Flos, who won it last year, in the Ryanair.

As well as those mentioned above, Russell could well ride Tiger Roll, upon whom he won the Grand National, in the Cross-Country Chase, Commander Of Fleet in the Albert Bartlett, of whom we like the chances and Wonder Laish for Charles Byrnes.

Nico De Boinville

It is less quantity with De Boinville and more quality. Since riding his first winner onboard Whisper in the Coral Cup in 2014, he has ridden the winner of the Gold Cup, the Supreme, Arkle, RSA and the Champion Chase twice. There are few men better for the big occasion, and with the backing of Nicky Henderson, he is never short of rides in the championship events.

  • Won two of the last three Champion Chases – this year he stands a great chance of winning three of the last four, and completing a double, with Altior
  • Won races at the past three Festivals onboard Altior – the Supreme in 2016, the Arkle in 2017 and the Champion Chase in 2018.

He has a great book of rides to look forward to, which includes along with Altior, Angels Breath in either the Supreme or Ballymore, Verdana Blue in the Champion Hurdle, Santini in the RSA, and Might Bite in the Gold Cup.

Jack Kennedy

With five winners from just the past two Festival winners, Kennedy has wasted no time since having his first winner under rules in 2015.

He showed that his 2017 Supreme win onboard Labaik was no fluke, by winning four races at the 2018 Festival, with Farclas in the Triumph, Shattered Love in the JLT, Samcro in the Ballymore, and Veneer Of Charm in the Fred Winter. He only missed out on winning the leading jockey award by having fewer place finishes than compatriot Gordon Elliott.

Benefitting from the patronage of Gigginstown, he looks sure once more to have a fantastic book of rides. This include Vision D’honneur in the Supreme, who appals at an each-way price in the Supreme, Apple’s Jade in the Champion Hurdle, and Battleoverdoyen in either the Albert Bartlett or the Ballymore.

Make sure to take advantage of our Free Bets & Offers for Cheltenham, as well as viewing our piece on Conditional Jockeys for the Handicaps at Cheltenham.

**Rides are subject to change.

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