Cheltenham Festival Tips 2019 – Top Jockey
With 58 winners in the bank at Cheltenham, Ruby Walsh is the winningmost rider we’ve ever seen at the Festival.
In addition to that, Walsh has been leading rider for the week on 11 times including nine of those coming between 2008 and 2017.
Last year Walsh’s week at Cheltenham ended prematurely and Davy Russell took the riding honours with four winners.
You can back Russell at 5/1 to repeat the feat but he is only third favourite to do so with Walsh at 5/2 and Barry Geraghty at 3/1. The latter has no Sprinter Sacre or Bobs Worth to look forward to this year but you’d get the impression Geraghty hasn’t looked forward to this meeting as much in a while.
Walsh on the other hand has pretty much admitted he has never gone to Cheltenham with less expectation. The standout hotpots he would have had with Willie Mullins and Paul Nicholls don’t seem to be there.
Walsh made a good point this week. Mullins has loads of runners and could win the Champion Hurdle, the Ryanair Chase, the Stayers Hurdle and the Gold Cup and Walsh might not ride any of them.
Surely that then points to Paul Townend providing the value at 12/1 to be leading jockey.
It just looks a wrong price.
Cheltenham hasn’t been Townend’s luckiest place just yet. Being second jockey to Ruby Walsh at Willie Mullins’ has to be one of the best jobs in racing. It’s arguably better than some first jockey positions and has put Townend in front in this years Irish jockeys championship as well as winning him that title before.
At Cheltenham though, Townend has eight winners to his name and had to wait until 2015 for Glens Melody to come after his first at 2011. In all, Townend has ridden eight winners here, Penhill bding the biggest as he won the Stayers Hurdle last year.
Townend also won on Laurina last year after Walsh got injured and unfortunately that is a risk again.
If four winners is to be used as a benchmark for a winning tally, it’s hard to think that Walsh will get it wrong four times during the week, but in some instances the Mullins team will just be so hard to pick and 48-hour declarations will make it interesting.
Obviously Ruby Walsh is a worthy favourite in this market and there’s no each-way at play here but for the interest…
Paul Townend at 12/1 is too big.
Prices correct at time of publication.