Cheltenham Festival Top Jockey Tips: Townend and Kennedy Race For The Crown

Cheltenham Festival Top Jockey Tips: Paul Townend is a hot favourite to be crowned
Cheltenham Festival Top Jockey Tips: Paul Townend is a hot favourite to be crowned

Steve Chambers takes an in-depth look at the race to be crowned Cheltenham Festival Top Jockey, as the likes of Paul Townend and Jack Kennedy battle for glory...

With Ireland well fancied to claim the Prestbury Cup over the British at the 2021 festival, it's no surprise to see two Irish jockeys spearheading the betting to be crowned Top Jockey at the National Hunt extravaganza next month. Paul Townend and Jack Kennedy dominate the head of the market, but can that Irish duo be challenged by anyone next week at Prestbury Park? We take an in-depth look at the race to be crowned Cheltenham Festival Top Jockey here:

Paul Townend - 2/5

Stable jockey to Willie Mullins, Paul Townend will have the pleasure of riding some of the stars of the National Hunt sphere at the Cheltenham Festival next week, and Townend, who claimed the Top Jockey crown at last year's meeting will be aiming to retain his crown again come the end of the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle next Friday afternoon.

Having piloted Al Boum Photo to back-to-back Cheltenham Gold Cup wins, Townend will look to land the hat-trick next week, while plum rides on the likes of Appreciate It (Supreme Novices' Hurdle), Monkfish (Brown Advisory Novices' Chase) and Chacun Pour Soi (Champion Chase) should see him rattle in some big-named winners during the week.

Add in some smart mares like Concertista (Mares' Hurdle) and Hook Up (Mares' Novices' Hurdle) alongside an array of talented handicappers then it's no surprise to see Townend available at the prohibitive odds of 2/5, but the firepower Mullins has can often mean he has more than one leading contender in Cheltenham races, so Townend will need to select the right contender in certain races, but with some proven top class performers dominating some of the marquee races then Townend is likely to have enough in the bank to reign supreme once again.

Jack Kennedy - 7/2

Having partnered Labaik to victory in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle in 2017 as a teenager, Jack Kennedy has gone from strength to strength and while he's suffered significant injury woes during his fledgling career he heads to this year's festival as the main rival to the abovementioned Townend in the race to be crowned Top Jockey.

Tied with Davy Russell on four winners at the 2018 festival, only to miss out on the trophy by having fewer placed finishes over the dual Grand National-winning jockey, Kennedy will head to this year's event as the 7/2 second favourite, but with the star ride on board Envoi Allen in the Marsh Novices' Chase then Kennedy looks to have one win on the board already.

Following the infamous goings-on at Gordon Elliott's yard and some key horses departing Cullentra House, Kennedy has managed to keep the rides on board the aforementioned Envoi Allen, Ballyadam (Supreme) and Quilixios (Triumph Hurdle), who are all now under the stewardship of Henry de Bromhead and stand superb chances. Ruled out of last year's festival, Kennedy has been booked for the ride on Minella Indo in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, while the young pilot will take to the saddle on a host of eye-catching Gigginstown House Stud-owned raiders during the four days, along with some eye-catching handicappers, but will it be enough to challenge Townend? It's unlikely!

Nico de Boinville - 10/1

There's a considerable chasm between Townend and Kennedy and the rest of the jockeys in the betting, but at 10/1 third favourite it's stable jockey to trainer Nicky Henderson, Nico de Boinville. A man for the big stage, de Boinville has racked up Cheltenham Festival winners over the last few seasons following his meteoric rise and he will look to kick off the meeting by riding Shishkin to victory in the Arkle.

His relationship with Altior in recent seasons has been a fruitful one and the pair will link up again in the Champion Chase, while leading Cheltenham Gold Cup contender Champ will be piloted by de Boinville, who knows what it takes to win the blue riband event having ridden Coneygree to victory in 2015.

However, while de Boinville will be partnering some of the stars of the entire four day Jumps bonanza, he will lack significant strength in depth to challenge both Townend and Kennedy, and the 10/1 looks awfully skinny about him landing the gong.

Cheltenham Festival Tips

Rachael Blackmore - 16/1

Leading Irish jockey Rachael Blackmore has shown to be one of the best in the business in recent seasons and she will look to claim more Cheltenham Festival success next week and is an eye-catching 16/1 contender. Bidding for Champion Hurdle glory on board the Henry de Bromhead-trained Honeysuckle, Blackmore's relationship with de Bromhead has gone from strength to strength and the pair will team up with A Plus Tard in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Bob Olinger is well fancied to strike gold in a mouth-watering renewal of the Ballymore Novices' Hurdle, and that exciting novice will have the skills of Blackmore to aid his chances, while Eklat De Rire could prove to be a notable thorn in the side of Monkfish in the Brown Advisory Novices' Chase. Like de Boinville though, Blackmore just lacks that significant strength in depth to make a notable challenge for top honours, and while it's easy to see her outscoring de Boinville, she will ultimately come up short against Townend and Kennedy.

Other Contenders

A plethora of jockeys sit around the 16/1 mark at the time of writing with Harry Cobden, Mark Walsh and Harry Skelton just a trio of the eye-catching names in the list. Cobden will don the silks for Paul Nicholls during the week, but will lack the strength to challenge, while Walsh will wear the silks of JP McManus during the festival, but the green and gold is unlikely to play too many starring roles during the week. Skelton looks the most intriguing one of that trio as he is flying at the moment and putting up a bold bid to be crowned champion jockey and with Allmankind (Arkle) and Roksana (Mares' Hurdle) just two of his premier rides then he can grab a few wins during the week.

Aidan Coleman is another 16/1 chance and he will pick up his affiliation with Paisley Park in the Stayers' Hurdle for Emma Lavelle, but Coleman will struggle to dominate the weighing room during the week, while the likes of Danny Mullins (25/1) and Daryl Jacob (33/1) should pick up a couple of winners, but not enough to challenge Messrs Townend, Blackmore and Kennedy, who can finish 1-2-3 in the standings.


Predicted Cheltenham Festival Top Jockey Standings:

  • 1st - Paul Townend
  • 2nd - Rachael Blackmore
  • 3rd - Jack Kennedy
Cheltenham Festival Races
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