Trooper Cooper Can Take Ruby’s Festival Crown

The question facing punters looking to get involved in the top jockeys market is: can anyone prevent Ruby Walsh from winning a seventh Cheltenham Festival top jockey title in eight years?

Red-Hot Ruby To Wear Crown Again?
Walsh is simply on another planet when it comes to booting them home at the festival, as was witnessed on the first day in 2015 when notching a treble, and there could well be a repeat – if not better – this time around.

Walsh has a mouth-watering book of rides for Willie Mullins on day one, on which he may actually ride the first six favourites. It’s a prospect that will have the other jockeys quaking in their riding boots, hence why Walsh has been installed as the red-hot 1/6 jolly to win the jockey’s title.

While there will be plenty of takers looking to make a 16% profit upon their investment about Walsh wearing the crown, there will be others aware that racing is never that predictable.

After all, Walsh only managed to land the title by just one winner 12 months ago, when both Paul Townend and Barry Geraghty were on his tail courtesy of three winners apiece.

Cheltenham Festivals since 2008

4 wins – Ruby Walsh
3 wins – Paul Townend, Barry Geraghty

3 wins – Ruby Walsh, Tom Scudamore, Barry Geraghty, Davy Russell

4 wins – Ruby Walsh
3 wins – Bryan Cooper, Barry Geraghty

5 wins – Barry Geraghty
2 wins – Tony McCoy, Jason Maguire, Ruby Walsh

5 wins – Ruby Walsh
2 wins – A Lynch, A McCoy, D Russell, R Johnson, Mr D O’Connor

3 wins – Ruby Walsh, Barry Geraghty
2 wins – Ms K Walsh, P Brennan, A Lynch, R Johnson, A McCoy

7 wins – Ruby Walsh
3 wins – Barry Geraghty

3 wins – Ruby Walsh, Robert Thornton
2 wins – Davy Russell

Barry To Carry Title Away?
Barry Geraghty has been the only jockey to interrupt Walsh’s reign during the last eight festivals, and he is respected once more having finished among the top two jockeys for the last four festivals.

Geraghty’s experience will also be of massive importance across the four days, and the fact he has several exciting rides to look forward to, including Yanworth (2/1 for the Neptune), adds value to the 7/1 for him winning the title.

Townend Is No Second String
The above records also highlight how close Paul Townend went to sharing the title with Ruby Walsh 12 months ago, and it’s worth noting that two of his three winners were not on Willie Mullins’ first string.

What remains interesting is that with Mullins bringing such a powerful battalion of runners to this year’s festival, Townend will again be aboard a number of his second and third string performers, and it’s hard to imagine there won’t be a winner or two among them.

At odds of 14/1, Townend looks good value to get among the winners in the first half of the meeting.

That could well bring him more winners later on.

Also on 14/1 is Sam Twiston-Davies, who bagged a double here in 2015 and has a number of realistic chances, including The New One (16/1 for the Champion Hurdle), while Bryan Cooper cannot be overlooked at 12/1.

Cooper A Real Trooper!
Cooper partnered two winners in 2015 and three winners in 2013 and could have the likes of No More Heroes (5/2, RSA Chase), Don Cossack/Don Poli (9/2 for the Gold Cup), Alpha Des Obeaux (7/1 for the World Hurdle), Roi Des Francs (7/1 for the National Hunt Chase) and A Toi Phil (14/1 for the Neptune). Such a strong portfolio clearly shows Cooper as outstanding value at 12/1 to give Ruby Walsh a run for his money.

Let’s not forget Richard Johnson, though, who is experiencing his best season to date and is on course for the British jockeys’ title, a fact that may see him gain some favourable rides outside of the Philip Hobbs yard.

Recommended Bets
Ruby Walsh holds a leading chance in wearing the crown one more time, but at odds of 12/1, Bryan Cooper offers better value, especially as he has the likes of No More Heroes, Don Cossack/Don Poli, Alpha Des Obeaux and Roi Des Francs as possible rides. Having ridden four winners during the last three festivals, Cooper knows what it takes to get over the winning line and could be set for a vintage 2016 festival.

*Prices correct at time of publication.