Grand National Jockeys: Who Could Triumph in 2019?

Winning the Randox Health Grand National is understandably high on the wish-list of any National Hunt jockey and the 2019 race will provide yet another chance for one of them to add their name this exclusive list. Very few jockeys are able to land the prestigious Aintree steeplechase and recent stagings of the event have seen the likes of David Mullins, Derek Fox and Ryan Mania break their duct in the race. We take a look at some of the riders who will be hoping to be first past the post on April 6th.

Source: At the Races via Twitter

Davy Russell

The obvious place to start is with last year’s winning jockey – Davy Russell. The County Cork-born rider was the oldest jockey in the field when he partnered Tiger Roll to victory in 2018 and it was an emotional day for the 39-year old, who had endured thirteen failed attempts in the race prior to this triumph. Russell had enjoyed a profitable season prior to his victory although he’d spent some time away from the sport earlier in the year following the death of his mother and the birth of his fourth child.

It was a suitably dramatic finish to the contest with Russell’s mount almost being caught on the line by the impressively fast-finishing Pleasant Company. After the result was officially confirmed, there was a palpable sense of relief amongst connections and the winning jockey was finally able to enjoy the moment alongside trainer Gordon Elliott, who was celebrating his second Grand National success.

Tiger Roll is likely to return to defend his crown in 2019 and the diminutive gelding is likely to be popular in the betting once again. Davy Russell is likely to get the mount once again and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him involved at the business end of the race for the second successive time.

 

Barry Geraghty

The second name on our list is another experienced operator who is likely to be prominent in this year’s renewal. Barry Geraghty suffered a stop-start 2018 campaign and if he manages to stay injury-free this year, he is likely to have his pick of the JP McManus runners.

It’s been sixteen years since Garaghty partnered Monty’s Pass to victory and he is long overdue another winner in the contest. He achieved another career milestone in January when landing the Birchdale at Cheltenham which helped him become the fourth most successful jockey of all-time in Britain and Ireland. His total of 1,875 winners enabled him to surpass Richard Dunwoody’s total, although he’s still a fair way behind the now-retired AP McCoy, who managed 4,348 winners during his illustrious career.

Last season he was on board Anibale Fly who began the race as one of the favourites but was only able to finish fourth. Geraghty talked up his mount’s chances pre-race yet being forced to lug the third highest weight around the energy-sapping course meant that the nine-year-old was running on empty during the final couple of furlongs.

One possible mount for the experienced rider is Sandymount Duke, who is owned by Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood.

Source: OddsBible Racing via Twitter

Danny Cook

Danny Cook is still searching for his first Grand National winner and is highly likely to partner Vintage Clouds in this year’s contest. The Romford-born rider looks set to participate in the race for the fourth time and will be hoping for better luck this time around.

In 2017, Definitly Red pulled up after being badly hampered at Bechers Brook and the same fence proved to be Cook’s undoing just twelve months later, as I Just Know also came down at the sixth. Cook was later reprimanded by the authorities for helping wave the runners around the iconic fence as they approached it on the second circuit.

As of February 2019, Cook has already chalked up 23 winners this season and he will be hoping to increase that tally during the run-up to the Grand National. He is likely to partner Definitly Red at the Cheltenham Festival in March and barring any accidents, he is also expected to be Sue Smith’s preferred choice for April’s world-famous steeplechase.

Vintage Clouds is currently one of the frontrunners in the betting and has proven stamina. He came third in 2018’s Scottish Grand National and despite being unable to finish his lastest race at Chepstow, the market appears confident of his chances of picking up a second career success at the Merseyside course.

He is around 25/1 in the betting although that price is likely to shorten further over the next couple of months. Those who wish to back the Yorkshire-raider can take advantage of a number of Grand National bonuses, all of which have been collated by Oddschecker. These offers will give all new customers the opportunity to use their free bet on the historic four-miler.

 

Paul Townend

Despite a number of appearances in the Randox Health Grand National, Paul Townend has never experienced the elation of winning the race. His first appearance saw him finish eleventh on Irish Invader and he was unseated at the 15th fence just twelve months later.

In 2018, he was on board Total Recall, who was heavily fancied for success in the race and went off as the 7/1 favourite. Unfortunately, the Willie Mullins-charge made an error at the fourth last and was eventually pulled up. That was the last time that Townend partnered the ten-year-old, although he isn’t likely to be short of offers ahead of this year’s renewal.

KemBoy is a horse who tends to get on well with Townend and the pair could team up once again in April. The seven-year-old was last seen winning the Savills Chase at Leopardstown at the end of 2018 and will be aiming to continue his unbeaten streak when he takes to the Aintree fences.

The pair were last seen together on UK turf in 2018 when finishing fourth in the Grade 1 JLT Novice’s Chase at Cheltenham.

Source: Ladbrokes via Twitter

Jack Kennedy

Jack Kennedy is one of the sport’s rising stars and he’s been gradually making a name for himself over the past 18 months. He finished third on board Bless the Wings in 2018 with the Gordon Elliott runner finishing eleven lengths behind stablemate Tiger Roll.

He has been described as the natural heir to AP McCoy and after riding four winners at the 2018 Cheltenham Festival, it’s easy to understand the hype surrounding the 19-year old.

2019 will be just his second outing in the race and he will be hoping to go one better this time around. Gordon Elliott is likely to send a number of runners across the Irish sea and Kennedy is likely to feature prominently in this year’s renewal.

He has continued to ride winners for the County Meath stable and recently accompanied Dallas Des Pictons to victory in the Grade B William Fry Handicap Hurdle at Leopardstown.

If he isn’t able to pick up a victory in the 2019 Randox Health Grand National, it is unlikely to be long until Kennedy is able to add his name to the select list of winning jockeys.

 

Brian Hughes

Brian Hughes is one of the top northern jockeys in the UK and after finishing eleventh on Seeyouatmidnight last season, he is likely to be back for another crack.

During the 2017-18 campaign, he won 142 of his 810 chase starts and finished second on a further 131 occasions. He is hugely reliable and although he isn’t one of the bigger names in the race, it is ill-advised to write off his chances.

He already has course form at Aintree but is winless in six attempts when it comes to the Grand National. The North Yorkshire-based rider is unlikely to be short of potential suitors and many trainers will be hoping to secure his services ahead of April’s steeplechase.

The 2019 Randox Grand National is likely to be another dramatic and thrilling contest and there are a number of jockeys who will have a chance to add their name to the illustrious list of winning riders. Who will be first past the post on April 6th, 2019

 

 

Ascot

 The Ascot racecourse is one of the, for want of a better word, important racecourse to the country. It hosts no less than 13 of the 36 annual group one races held in the UK and is home to such popular and longstanding races as the King’s Stand Stakes, Ascot Gold Cup, Queen Elizabeth II Stakes and Champion Stakes. Many of these races are steeped in hundreds of years of history.

In addition to hosting such prestigious individual races, the Ascot racecourse stages October’s British Champions Day each year. This is a world class event launched in 2011 and has featured a who’s who of horse racing talented ever since. It got off to a seriously impressive start when Frankel won the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes there in its opening year. The following year he did a victory lap of sorts, winning his last ever race, the Champion Stakes, before retiring from racing undefeated. The five races that make up British Champions Day are: British Champions Sprint Stakes , British Champions Long Distance Cup, Queen Elizabeth II Stakes and Champion Stakes. All but the Long Distance Cup are Group One races.

As high class as the relatively newly minted British Champions Day may be, it still can’t quite compared to the real jewel in the crown though, which dates all the way back to 1711, namely Royal Ascot. The Royal Ascot festival and indeed the racecourse itself was founded by Queen Anne that year and is to this day attended by a member of the Royal family each year. They take their place in the ‘Royal Enclosure’.

With 300,000+ attending Royal Ascot over the five days, those on course and watching at home get to feast on group one racing action and numerous other ultra competitive matchups. Prize money for the entire event is well over £6 million with a Purse of £750,000 for the Prince of Wales Stakes alone. The Ascot Gold Cup is another highlight for many and that takes place on the ever popular Ladies Day.

In part due to its Royal links, the course has popular cultural significance, and has featured in movies as well as being the subject and setting of songs. My Fair Lady’s ‘Ascot Gavotte’ is one example of this.

Kempton Park

 Kempton Park racecourse in situated in Sunbury-on-Thames, Surrey, UK. The track is surrounded by a park and woodland and there is easy access via Kemptom train station which was built especially for the course.

Kemptom Park has an inner and outer course and so can cater to both flat and national hunt racing. Three grade one races take place at the course too, the King George VI Chase, Kauto Star Novices’ Chase and the Christmas Hurdle. All races for four year old horses and over.

The King George VI Chase is held on Boxing Day each year (as are the other two grade one races) and run over a distance of three miles. The steeplechase was first held in 1937 and has a purse of £225,000. it’s one of the most prestigious Chases in the country and has been won by such legends of the sport as Desert Orchid, back to back in 1988, 1989 and 1990, and Kauto Star four years in a row from 2006 to 2009, and again in 2011.

The successes of both Desert Orchid and Kauto Star are celebrated as part of this very December meeting with the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase taking place on Decmber 26th and Desert Orchid Chase on 27th.

The Christmas Hurdle is also a much respected grade one race. So much so that it’s part of the Triple crown of Hurdling, which also consists of the Fighting Fifth Hurdle (Newcastle) and the Champion Hurdle (Cheltenham). The Sir Michael Stoute trained Kribensis is the only horse to have won all three races (in 1989-1990).

The Kempton Park racecourse came to be when a 19th century businessman came across Kempton Park and Manor for sale and thought it would be an ideal site for a race course. The course is however set to close in 2021 with the grade one races moved to Sandown Park, as part of an investment program and to meet regional housing needs.

Doncaster

 The Doncaster racecourse is a racecourse in Donaster, South Yorkshire, UK. It’s home to two of the most treasured group one races in British racing, the St Leger Stakes and the Racing Post Trophy (now known as The Vertem Futurity Trophy). The course is 1 mile 7½ furlongs and both flat and jump racing take place here.

Doncaster has long been a hub for racing in the UK, with records as far back as the 16th century showing that horse racing took place there. The earliest race of note though has to be the Doncaster Cup which was first run in 1766 and continues to this day. Its long history saw it become part of the Stayers’ Triple Crown (in combination with the Goodwood Cup and Ascot Gold Cup), previously won by Kauto Star.

Colonel Anthony St. Leger founded the (you guessed it!) St Leger Stakes in 1776. It’s the oldest known classic horse race, and is run over a distance of 1 mile, 6 furlongs and 115 yards in September of each year. The purse for the race, which is for three year olds, is close to £750,000 and winning it certainly marks out a horse as something special.

The Vertem Futurity Trophy (aka Racing Post Trophy) is the other group one race held at Doncaster racecourse – in late October each year. This race, for two year olds, takes place over a distance of one mile, and the inaugural run took place in 1961. Both Lester Piggott and Pat Eddery to this day share the best jockey record with five wins a piece. Henry Cecil is leading trainer with ten wins to his name. Three legends of the sport, still looming large.

Five winners of the Vertem Futurity Trophy, including Reference Point and Camelot, have gone on to win the Derby the following year. This surely speaks to the quality of those that take part.