St Patrick’s Day is fast-approaching and that can only mean one thing: it’s almost time for the 2013 Cheltenham Festival. This year’s festival is scheduled to take place from 12th-15th March.
Champions Day will kick it all off on the Tuesday, the ladies take centre stage on Wednesday’s Ladies Day, eager Irish spirit will come to town on the Thursday and the famous Gold Cup Day will round off the celebrations on Friday.
The festival symbolises the glitz, glamour and raw passion that surrounds horse racing at Cheltenham and we’ve seen some great moments over the years.
The sport has been blessed with a fair few stars, so as part of our countdown to Cheltenham, we’ve taken a look at the most successful jockeys ever to have graced the prestigious festival:
Walsh rode on a record seven winners in 2009 and, two years later, took his grand total to 34 to establish his place as the most successful jockey ever at Cheltenham.
He famously rode one of the greatest chasers of all time, Kauto Star, to victory twice – once in 2007 and again in 2009. Kauto, who was retired by owner Clive Smith and trainer Paul Nicholls in 2012, is now galloping into an unprecedented career in dressage.
AP is the second most successful jockey to have competed at Cheltenham since 1945, having ridden a grand total of 27 winners (the first of which was 16 years ago in 1997).
He famously struggled on for years to win the Grand National, which he finally did in 2010, and he added to his first Gold Cup at Cheltenham last year when he rode to victory on the late great Synchronised.
Barry Geraghty prevented Ruby Walsh from making it five top jockey crowns in a row at last year’s Cheltenham Festival as he rode five winners over the four days to take the total number of winners that he has rode to 25, equal to that of Pat Taaffe.
10 of his last 11 winners at Cheltenham were under trainer Nicky Henderson, who is the festival’s most successful trainer with 46 winners. Henderson is looking to add to that record with 3/1 Gold Cup favourite Bobs Worth at this year’s festival.
Four-time Gold Cup winner, Pat Taaffe, is widely recognised as one of the greatest jockeys ever (and widely envied for having ridden one of the greatest horses ever in Arkle).
He wasn’t the most prolific or conventional of riders, but he won four Gold Cups (three on Arkle) and rode a total of 25 winners at Cheltenham throughout his career, leaving him currently the joint-third most successful rider ever (although Barry Geraghty will be looking to relegate him to fourth after this year’s festival).