With the Cheltenham Festival just around the corner and punters throughout Great Britain and Ireland carefully selecting their ante-post bets, it’s time we run through some of the games’ best jockeys as we count down the days to that famous opening roar.
No other jockey riding at this year’s Cheltenham Festival has as many wins at the four-day meeting that Ireland’s Barry Geraghty.
Wins on greats such as Moscow Flyer, Sprinter Sacre and Bobs Worth have contributed to 38 glorious Festival winners, while he’s also been superbly consistent at the event.
Geraghty has only missed out on visiting the winners’ enclosure once since 2002 and has ridden multiple winners at eight of the last 10 Festivals.
Barry’s first Festival win came aboard Moscow Flyer in the 2002 Arkle, whom he then went on to partner and win two Champion Chases.
Ruby Walsh hung up his riding boots in 2019 and it may be a while before any jockey challenges his total of 59 Cheltenham Festival winners.
From Alexander Banquet in 1998 at the age of just 18 to Klassical Dream in 2019 at the age of 39, Walsh has dominated the Festival.
He was 11 times crowned the leading jockey at the four-day jump racing bonanza and from 2020 onwards, the award given for riding the most winners at the meeting is now named The Ruby Walsh Trophy.
Wash also holds the record for the most winners at a single meeting, with seven at both the 2009 and 2016 Festivals.
Female jockeys have been riding winners at the Cheltenham Festival since 1983, when Caroline Beasley made history when partnering Eliogarty to victory in the Foxhunters Chase.
By 1987 we almost had a female honoured with the meeting’s leading rider award, only for Gee Armytage, who rode two winners that year, fall short of Peter Scudamore on countback for placed efforts.
However, Nina Carberry will go down in many people’s eyes as producing the greatest Festival performances.
Carberry is the leading all-time female jockey at the Cheltenham Festival, recording seven winners at Prestbury Park, including a brilliant four wins in the Cross Country Chase.
Some races at the Festival are only for amateur riders and it’s in these contests where every trainer will be scrapping for the services of Jamie Codd.
The Irishman has ridden nine Festival winners, more than any other amateur, and his hold-up riding style always puts spectators on the edge of their seats.
The Kim Muir, National Hunt Chase and Champion Bumper contests at Cheltenham have proved a successful hunting ground for the amateur since 2009, while he’s also won the Cross Country Chase.