Top jockeys at the Cheltenham Festival

The Cheltenham Festival is the pinnacle of the year for all those who are involved in National Hunt racing and Cheltenham always brings particular focus on the guys who are driving and steering the winners home. So who are the top jockeys and are they worth supporting blindly?

The majority of punters want to be with the well-known names such as McCoy, Walsh, Johnson, Thornton and Geraghty. Although all of those riders feature as the top five in numerical terms of winners ridden at the Cheltenham Festival since 1997 would you have made a profit backing their mounts?

With Tony McCoy despite all his last ditch efforts at the Festival the answer is a resounding no - he's had a remarkable 222 rides at the Festival since 1997 but has only had 22 winners for a strike-rate of 9.91%, but the shocking part for all of the memorable rides that A.P. has had at the Festival is that if you had backed all of them you would be £87.50 down to a level £1 stake.  For all his supposed numerical supremacy supporting McCoy blind is not a profitable solution at the Cheltenham Festival – in only three Cheltenham Festivals since 1997 has A.P. McCoy shown a level stakes profit. Sometimes, backing big names blind just isn't a good idea. After all, Paul Nicholls Cheltenham Festival record is fantastic, but sticking money on all of his runners wouldn't be a sensible thing to do.

Ruby Walsh leads the way in terms of numbers of Festival winners ridden with 27 and as he rides for the powerful Nicholls and Mullins stables that comes as no surprise but overall he is in the same boat as MCCoy. He rides lots of fancied horses at prices that have the top stables form and his prowess factored into them and unless he has another year like the one where he rode seven winners in 2009 then you would struggle if you just follow him blindly. You're better off looking at some Paul Nicholls horse racing tips, and then backing Walsh on the strength of his mounts, not just his name.

If you want to back a jockey on the basis of him level stakes profit then Barry Geraghty is your man with a cracking profit of £50.25 since 1997 – the bulk of that profit being made up from Geraghty's rides in hurdle races where he has an outstanding profit of £37 from all his Festival  mounts.

That trio of jockeys are Irish, but two Brits complete the top five numerically and they both show a profit to level stakes over the Festival years since 1997. Robert Thornton and Richard Johnson would have made you just over £8 to a pound level stakes in those years.

The top jockeys in the right circumstances are worth supporting but following the majority of them blind in the long term can seriously damage your Cheltenham Festival profits.

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