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Your guide to who you should back to be Top Jockey at the Cheltenham Festival

by Aidan Elder | March 8, 2015

With what looks to be a mega-strong Willie Mullins team heading across to the Cotswolds, Ruby Walsh is the big favourite for the accolade. He’s won the honour eight times in total and after six of the last seven Festivals, his name has been sitting atop the list of winning jockeys.

Main rides: Faugheen/Hurricane Fly (Champion Hurdle), Champagne Fever (Champion Chase), Briar Hill (World Hurdle), Djakadam (Gold Cup)

Backed mainly by the Nicky Henderson yard but also getting some interesting rides from elsewhere, Barry Geraghty is considered his closest rival. Sprinter Sacre is the most high profile of the lot, but he’s got more than enough chances throughout the week to land the Top Festival Jockey title, a feat that would make it three in his career.

Main rides: Vaniteux (Champion Hurdle), Sprinter Sacre (Champion Chase), Whisper (World Hurdle), Bob’s Worth (Gold Cup)

The two Irish old hands are followed in the betting by the new, very baby-faced kid on the block. At the age of just 22, Bryan Cooper has already experience the highs and lows of the Festival. He won three races at the 2013 Festival before suffering a fall and a broken fibia and tibula one day two of last year’s edition.

Main rides: Carclam (Champion Chase), Lieutenant Colonel (World Hurdle), Road To Riches (Gold Cup)

AP McCoy supplies this year’s potential fairytale story. The 19 times Champion Jockey hands up his whip at the end of the season making this his last Festival in the saddle. So to speak. He’s got the potential ammunition to make it a great week to bow out from the Cotswolds and that’s definitely not meant to be a pun on the fact he’s Northern Irish. That’s just your mind jumping to conclusions.

Main rides: Jezki (Champion Hurdle), Mr. Mole (Champion Chase), Rock On Ruby (World Hurdle), Carlingford Lough (Gold Cup)

Sam Twiston-Davies has the firepower of the Paul Nicholls yard behind him, plus a rather useful ride on Cheltenham expert, The New One from his Dad on the opening day. Charming, polite but also unwaveringly determined, he has tasted Festival success in the past and he could certainly add to his tally this time around.

Main rides: The New One (Champion Hurdle), Dodging Bullets (Champion Chase), Saphir Du Rheu (World Hurdle), Sam Winner (Gold Cup)

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