The Cheltenham Festival has seen some of the greatest jockeys of all-time conjure up some magnificent rides and some epic finishes up the famous Cheltenham hill.
Who can forget Hardy Eustace vs Harchibald or Al Boum Photo’s heart-stopping victory over Santini in last year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup?
Normally the cream rises to the top when it comes to the biggest meeting of the year so let us take a look at some of the best jockeys, past and present, who have been hugely successful at the Festival.
Cheltenham Festival Top Jockeys – The most successful icons
It will be no surprise to see that three of the four jockeys featured here are a huge part of riding Irish winners at Cheltenham. Irish-trained horses have dominated this meeting in the past few years and this year’s Festival looks to be no different. There is no question that this quartet have been the best jockeys at Cheltenham this millennium.
These four have ridden 145 Cheltenham Festival winners between them and one of them looks to have some great chances to add to that tally this year:
Townend will once again bid to be Cheltenham’s top jockey in 2021 after riding five winners in 2020, including Al Boum Photo in the Gold Cup.
Since Ruby Walsh’s retirement, Townend has stepped in to become a hugely reliable stable jockey to Willie Mullins and the pair have some superb chances in 2021 to dominate once more.
The likes of Al Boum Photo, Appreciate It and Chacun Pour Soi have great chances to win some prestigious races and Townend has established himself as a Cheltenham specialist.
He has 12 winners at the Festival and there is no doubt he will get at least one winner in 2021.
Sir AP McCoy
Tony McCoy is regarded as the greatest National Hunt jockey of all-time, with a whopping 4,358 winners during his career, a record that is unlikely to ever be broken.
McCoy rode 31 winners at the Cheltenham Festival, including the Cheltenham Gold Cup – Champion Hurdle double in 1997 on-board Mr Mulligan and Make A Stand.
The Irish-born 46-year-old was British champion jockey 20 times and formed a formidable alliance with trainer Martin Pipe during the latter part of last century and early 2000s. Truly a British sporting icon!
Geraghty retired from the sport in July 2020 so this will be the first Cheltenham Festival without him since 2001. The 41-year-old rode 1,920 winners in his illustrious career, making him the fourth most successful British and Irish jumps jockey in history.
He rode 43 winners at the Cheltenham Festival between 2002 and 2020 with the legendary Moscow Flyer his first ever winner in the 2002 Arkle Chase.
The partnership between Geraghty and Moscow Flyer saw them emerge victorious in the 2003 and 2005 renewals of the Champion Chase and he also won the Gold Cup in 2005 on Kicking King.
His last winner at the Festival was Saint Roi in the County Hurdle in 2020.
Walsh rode an astonishing 59 winners at Cheltenham, with his first coming in 1998 on-board Alexander Banquet in the Champion Bumper.
It wasn’t until 2002 that Walsh was firmly established as leading rider at Willie Mullins’ all-conquering stable and he became the top jockey at the Festival 11 times.
His most successful years were in 2009 and 2016, where he rode seven winners. Walsh was successful at the Festival on some of the most revered horses in history such as Kauto Star, Hurricane Fly and Big Buck’s.
He retired from the saddle in May 2019, with his last winner being Klassical Dream in the 2019 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.
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