Throughout the Cheltenham Festival’s storied existence, this fabled event has served as a showcase for the equestrian elite who have sought to display their unparalleled talents and masterful horsemanship. Nevertheless, amongst the multitude of contenders that have dared to compete, only an elite few have managed to distinguish themselves by attaining extraordinary triumphs amidst the fevered atmosphere of this acclaimed festival.
Last Time Around
In 2023, it was Paul Townend who stole the spotlight. Emerging as the undisputed victor among jockeys, Townend notched an impressive five triumphs. His record far surpassed that of the second-place pair, Harry Cobden and Rachel Blackmore, who managed only half of Townend’s victories. The action kicked off on day one with Townend guiding the 11/10 favorite, El Fabiolo, to a resounding triumph in the Arkle Challenge Trophy. Not content with just one victory, Townend continued his winning streak on Ladies’ Day, seizing two more illustrious wins aboard Impaire Et Passe and Energumene in the highly esteemed Queen Mother Champion Chase.
On the third day, he faced a lack of success, but on the fourth day, he emerged victorious by riding Lossiemouth to win the opening race. However, the true highlight of his achievements was clinching the prestigious Cheltenham Gold Cup while riding Galopin Des Champs. The duo was a heavy 7/5 betting favorite last year and they duly lived up to expectations. Looking ahead, if you are someone who likes to bet on horse racing then you may already know that the reigning champion is an even stronger 6/5 favorite for glory, and we wouldn’t be surprised if this duo delivers back-to-back wins come March.
Although Townend displayed impressive form in the previous event, he has some way to go before he can match the exploits of this man.
Ruby Walsh is an unparalleled force when it comes to asserting dominance at the Cheltenham Festival. With a record-breaking 59 wins under his belt, he reigns supreme as the leading jockey in the history of this prestigious event, leaving his rivals a staggering 16 victories behind. It all began two decades ago when this exceptional Irishman paved his way to glory by piloting Azertyuiop to a resounding triumph in the Queen Mother Champion Chase. This marked the start of an enchanting love affair between Walsh and the epitome of equestrian excellence, the Greatest Show on Turf.
The partnership between jockey Ruby Walsh and trainer Willie Mullins has played a pivotal role in Walsh’s tremendous success. Together, they have achieved the majority of Walsh’s victories throughout his outstanding career. Nonetheless, this journey has not been a solitary effort. While Walsh holds the record as the most accomplished jockey in festival history, Mullins, at the age of 67, stands as the most successful trainer with an impressive tally of 94 wins. This puts him 21 wins ahead of second-ranked trainer Nicky Henderson.
Following a remarkable career, Walsh bid farewell to the sport in 2019 after yet again attaining the title of top jockey. He has left a lasting legacy that will undoubtedly be recounted for years to come, with the likes of Townend, Cobden, and Blackmore striving to fill the rather large shoes he has left behind.