Barry Geraghty the man to steal Ruby Walsh’s Cheltenham crown

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When it comes to the Cheltenham Festival there aren’t many trainer/jockey combinations more potent than Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh.

It’s therefore no surprise to see the 33-year-old pilot head the betting to be the greatest jumps meeting on earth’s top jockey at 1/2, with his Irish boss 2/5 to train the most winners.

Although Walsh has collected the most winners at the Festival seven times in the last ten years, his price this time around can be confidently opposed with other options.

That’s because the County Kildare native no longer has the pick of Paul Nicholls’ rides, having given up his role as the Ditcheat stable’s chief jockey at the start of this season in order to concentrate more of his time riding in Ireland for Mullins.

So without the likes of Big Buck’s, who is 7/4 joint-favourite for the World Hurdle, and Silviniaco Conti, who is a 5/2 shot for the Gold Cup, Walsh is under threat at the head of the betting having less “sure things” (if such a concept exists at Prestbury Park) to ride.

That all makes having a punt on Barry Geraghty, who is the 7/2 second favourite to be the top jockey, a seriously palatable proposition.

Geraghty’s combination with Nicky Henderson is just as strong a power as the Walsh/Mullins partnership, with the Seven Barrows trainer leading all active handlers for festival wins and the 35-year-old having 28 to his name too.

2012’s Festival top jockey will get the ride on Gold Cup favourite Bobs Worth (6/4) along with JLT Novices Chase fancy Oscar Whisky (7/1) and previous Festival winner Riverside Theatre among others, making him the natural choice to dethrone Walsh.

Perennial champion jockey, AP McCoy, is next in the betting at 8/1, but considering he hasn’t claimed this prize in any of the previous ten years, isn’t one to back with as much confidence this time around.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.