Jockeys to watch out for at the 2021 Cheltenham Festival
With the 2021 Cheltenham Festival just a couple of months away, horse racing fans everywhere are rifling through the Cheltenham odds to try and decide their picks for the famous old Prestbury Park meeting. Of course, this year’s Festival will look a lot different compared with previous years. The impact of the coronavirus pandemic has hit sport hard, meaning that spectators have largely been absent from live sporting events. Such will surely be the case for Cheltenham, with the pandemic showing no signs of easing until mass vaccinations have been administered.
But that does not mean the Festival will suffer in terms of entertainment. For jockeys especially, Cheltenham will still be a hugely important occasion despite the absence of the famous Cheltenham roar which has long accompanied horses and jockeys up the home straight. Last year’s Festival brought some memorable moments for certain riders, and 2021 promises even more drama and elation for the jockeys who are able to clinch the Festival’s top prizes.
Read on, as we go through some of the best performing jockeys at last year’s Cheltenham, and ponder whether they can replicate their success again this year.
The 2020 Cheltenham Festival was one to remember for Paul Townend, who ran five winners and as a result scooped the top jockey accolade from under the nose of the now-retired Barry Geraghty. Indeed, it was on Gold Cup Day that Townend truly came into his own at last year’s Festival – a day that brought glory for both himself and trainer Willie Mullins.
After two wins already that afternoon, Townend successfully rode Al Boum Photo to a second successive Gold Cup triumph, cementing the horse’s name in the history books and becoming the first since Best Mate to win the race in two consecutive Festivals. As the 2021 meeting approaches, can he make it three Gold Cups on the spin?
While Davy Russell earned three wins at the Cheltenham Festival last year and enjoyed a fine week, it was all put into perspective later in the year when he suffered a neck injury while racing in Limerick in October. Having suffered fractured and dislocated vertebrae, it could have been a lot worse for Russell, but thankfully he has recovered well.
The aim at this year’s Festival will be for more success with Envoi Allen, who Russell rode to victory in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle in 2020, and he’ll be fancied once again in the Cheltenham tips.
Having won the Mares’ Hurdle last year on board Honeysuckle, Rachael Blackmore has now got a taste for victory at the Cheltenham Festival, and will be doing everything to experience it once again. All eyes will be on the undefeated Honeysuckle, and rumour has it that she could be entered into the Champion Hurdle, which would be the mare’s biggest challenge yet.
But Blackmore is a jockey of immense talent, and has proven her qualities time and time again. If anyone has the ability to get the best out of Honeysuckle on the biggest stage, then Blackmore is definitely the one.