Cheltenham Leading Jockeys 2024

The four days of the Cheltenham Festival are the most important of the year for jump jockeys in Britain and Ireland, offering a chance to make history in the sport’s most prestigious races and on its biggest stage. No leading rider’s CV is complete without a Cheltenham Festival victory and those at the very top of their profession battle it out each year to be crowned the Cheltenham Festival top jockey. Here we look at the greatest Cheltenham Festival jockeys of all time, recall some of the meeting’s most historic moments in the saddle and run through the main contenders for top jockey Cheltenham Festival 2024.

The Leading 2024 Cheltenham Festival Jockeys

Paul Townend

It is no surprise that Willie Mullins’ retained rider is a short price to retain his top jockey title. He lost out to Rachael Blackmore in 2021, but duly regained the honour last year with five winners. He will get the majority of plumb rides from the Mullins yard, courtesy of Energumene, Lossiemouth and the Gold Cup favourite Galopin Des Champs.

Nico De Boinville

Nico De Boinville’s chances go almost perfectly hand-in-hand with trainer Nicky Henderson’s. De Boinville has been Seven Barrows’ nominated number one for some years now and Constitution Hill and Marie’s Rock will give the leading British rider in the market two outstanding possibilities.

Davy Russell

The 2018 Cheltenham Festival Top Jockey has come out of retirement to help trainer Gordon Elliott, after Jack Kennedy broke his leg in January. There’s a chance he could be back in time for the Festival, but if not Davy Russell will get the pick of the rides for Gordon Elliott. He recently rode Mighty Potter to Grade 1 glory at the Dublin Racing Festival, and he has a superb chance of following up at the Festival if the odds are anything to go by. 

Rachael Blackmore

The first female Top Jockey at the 2021 Cheltenham Festival, there is little racing history that is left to be altered by Rachael Blackmore. Her six successes across the 2021 Festival saw her lift the leading rider’s prize and her book is stacked with chances once again. Honeysuckle could give her a fantastic start in the Mares Hurdle on Tuesday.

Danny Mullins

As the nephew of top Irish trainer Willie Mullins, Danny Mullins is likely to get plenty of plum rides at the Festival this year. He has ridden Flooring Porter to victory in the Stayers’ Hurdle for the past two renewals and will make a bold bid to land the hat-trick this year.

2024 Cheltenham Leading Jockey Odds

Paul Townend 2/7
Nico De Boinville 6/1
Davy Russell 8/1
Rachael Blackmore 10/1
Danny Mullins 16/1

Cheltenham Festival Top Jockey Awards

Paul Townend is the current Cheltenham Festival top jockey, continuing the dominance of Irish riders. Only three British jockeys have been Cheltenham top jockey in the last 16 years, although this is mainly due to the record of Irish legend Ruby Walsh, who claimed the title 11 times between 2004 and 2017. Walsh is by far the most successful jockey of all time at the Cheltenham Festival, with 59 victories. Second in that list is Barry Geraghty, on 43 winners, who was Cheltenham Festival top jockey in 2003 and 2012. Third is Tony McCoy, with 31 winners, who was Cheltenham top jockey in 1997 and 1998. All three of those riders are now retired, leaving Davy Russell, on 25 winners and top jockey in 2018, as the most successful rider still competing, making for a great topic in the Cheltenham tips and predictions.

Previous Top Jockey Award Winners

Ruby Walsh has dominated the Cheltenham Festival top jockey award, winning it 11 times. In two of those years he rode seven winners, something no other jockey has achieved. Only four other riders have claimed the title in the last ten years: Nico de Boinville triumphed in 2019, when just three victories proved enough, while four wins gave the title to Davy Russell in 2018. Barry Geraghty, the second-most successful jockey of all time at the Cheltenham Festival, claimed the Cheltenham top jockey award in 2012 with five wins, as he did in 2003. He rode five again at 2020’s Festival but it wasn’t enough to stop the prize going to Paul Townend, who also rode five but had achieved more second place finishes. Townend was subsequently usurped by Rachael Blackmore in 2021, as she claimed six victories on the way to her first Cheltenham title. He reclaimed his title at last year’s Festival, riding five winners over the four days. 

Top Cheltenham Jockeys Of All Time

Ruby Walsh is the most successful jockey of all time at the Cheltenham Festival but one of his most famous rides was on a loser. In 2015 punters latched onto Walsh’s fancied runners in four of the first five races – all of whom were short-priced favourites – with many combining them in accumulators. The first three obliged and when 1-2 favourite Annie Power approached the last in the Mares’ Hurdle four lengths clear and with an easy victory in sight, bookmakers were facing a £50 million payout. But Annie Power took a dramatic fall at the final hurdle as thousands of punters looked on aghast. 

Four years later, Bryony Frost made Cheltenham Festival history of a more positive kind when becoming the first woman to win a Grade 1 over jumps at the Cheltenham Festival, driving home the popular Frodon for a thrilling success in the Ryanair Chase.

But for sheer skill in the saddle, many people’s vote for the greatest ride in Cheltenham Festival history would be Tony McCoy’s unlikely victory on Wichita Lineman in the William Hill Trophy Handicap in 2009. The pair looked well beaten at the last, with McCoy hard at work after a series jumping errors from his mount. But Wichita Lineman, under the determined urging of a jockey who was just not prepared to quit, delivered an irresistible surge up the hill to snatch victory in the dying strides.