Ask any punter to rate their key considerations when weighing up a race and it is likely that the jockey will be near the top of the list.
At the Cheltenham Festival, the demands on the rider are greater than any other venue, where an intimate knowledge of the course, the horse and a cool head are all equally important.
2019 Cheltenham Festival Leaderboard
|Nico de Boinville||3-14||+37|
Top Jockey betting: 15-8 Paul Townend, 9-2 Barry Geraghty, 9-2 Davy Russell, 6-1 Jack Kennedy, 8-1 Nico De Boinville.
There was a time when Ruby Walsh, Tony McCoy and Barry Geraghty were the “big three” punters would look to at the festival, but with only Geraghty still active, punters are on the lookout for a new hero to rely on. Last season that accolade went to Nico de Boinville, who rode a treble for a big level stakes profit of +£37, and it is with de Boinville we start our close-up of Cheltenham’s leading jockeys.
NICO DE BOINVILLE
2019: 3-14 (+£37)
2018: 1-9 (-£7)
2017: 2-10 (-£4)
A career best festival tally of 3-14 in 2019 makes Nico de Boinville a jockey to track across the four days, especially in the Champion Chase where he triumphed in three of the last four renewals. In fact, de Boinville’s record in festival Grade 1s is now an impressive 8-31, while his rides for Nicky Henderson are to be respected.
Top races: Champion Chase (3 wins); Coral Cup (2 wins)
Positives: Nicky Henderson (9-56 +£29); Won last time out (8-30 +£19); Grade 1 (8-31 +£18)
Negatives: Novices (3-21 -£10)
2019: 2-18 (+£1)
2018: 2-17 (-£2)
2017: 2-13 (+£25)
With only one festival winner from 2010 to 2014 (1-53), Paul Townend turned his fortunes around here during the last five years, partnering nine winners for a return of 9-73 (+£44). The pick of those came last season when the Irishman took the biggest prize of them all in the Cheltenham Gold Cup. While that victory was his eighth for Willie Mullins here since 2010, he did return a loss for punters (8-111 -£6), though sticking with Townend on the realistic chances at 25-1 or shorter improved the numbers (10-102 +£25).
Top races: Various
Positives: 12-25 runners (10-91 +£36); Handicaps (4-38 +£31); 25-1 or shorter (10-102 +£25); Hurdles (97-81 +£15)
Negatives: Evens or shorter last time out (1-26 -£19)
2019: 0-14 (-£ 0)
2018: 4-11 (+£40)
2017: 1-6 (+£20)
Although Jack Kennedy was unable to repeat his two profitable festivals from 2017 and 2018 last time around, he did go mightily close with four placed runners, including two runners-up. The fact three of those placed runners returned 9-1, 14-1 and 40-1 shows Kennedy’s mounts represent value, and it may not be long before a few of those connect. All five festival victories also came for Gordon Elliott.
Top races: Novice Hurdles
Positives: Hurdles (4-25 +£47); Gordon Elliott (5-33 +£44)
Negatives: Chases (1-10 -£5)
2019: 0-17 (-£ 0)
2018: 4-17 (+£8)
2017: 1-14 (-£2)
The 2019 Cheltenham Festival proved a rare occasion in which Davy Russell left Prestbury Park empty-handed - the first time in 10 years. It was a far cry from 12 months earlier when Russell recorded a memorable four-timer, taking his 10-year tally here to 17 winners (17-122 +£64). The law of probabilities suggests lightning can’t strike again in 2020 with Russell blanking, and if the numbers prove right then he could be in for a winner or two.
Top races: RSA Chase (3 wins); Coral Cup (3 wins); Pertemps Final (3 wins)
Positives: 20-1 or shorter (17-89 +£97); Fairyhouse or Leopardstown last time (13-60 +£85); Handicaps: (8-42 +£62); Davy Russell rode last time out (9-58 +£39)
Negatives: Novices: 6-50 (-£9); 2m-2m4½f (3-57 -£25)
2019: 2-18 (-£9)
2018: 2-15 (-£5)
There isn’t a jockey currently riding that’s enjoyed more success here than Barry Geraghty, who proved a model of consistency at this fixture down the years, including in 2019 when partnering another two winners. Trying to profit via the Irishman at Cheltenham proved tricky, though, as he showed a -£40 loss since 2010. If there was one area Geraghty showed a higher strike-rate then it was over fences.
Top races: Champion Chase (5 wins); Triumph Hurdle (5 wins); Arkle Chase (4 wins); Champion Hurdle (4 wins)
Positives: Officially rated 141 or higher (22-125 +£5); Chases (12-72 -£3)
Negatives: Handicaps (4-62 -£24); Hurdles & bumpers (10-98 -£36); 16-1 or bigger (0-44 -£44)
Others To Look Out For...
Richard Johnson (10-136 -£27) missed out last year, but he usually pops up with a winner and should be noted on last time out winners (7-50 +£5), while Bryan Cooper (8-88 -£9) was quiet here in recent years with just five rides, but is man to have onside should he get the right mount in a chase (5-38 +£21). Finally, it will be interesting to see if the man currently in second place for the jockeys’ title this season, Brian Hughes, receives more rides having partnered just seven at the last two festivals. If so, then he’s struck three times in novice events since 2010 (3-15 +£40) - each of whom he took over from a different jockey last time out.
Be Wary Of…
D E Mullins 0-33
Mr D Mullins 0-48