Leading Jockeys at The Festival - all the statistics

Full media pack with the records of all current jockeys plus selected past jockeys at The Festival can be accessed HERE

Record-breaking Ruby Walsh took the Leading Jockey Award for the 11th time at The Festival last year. He drew a blank on the first two days, but achieved the first four-timer by a jockey at The Festival on St Patrick's Thursday at cumulative odds of 179/1.
 
Walsh increased his lead as the winning-most rider ever at The Festival, with 56 successes in total, 22 ahead of Barry Geraghty who missed the four-day highlight in 2017 due to injury.
 
Robbie Power finished second to Walsh with three wins, while six jockeys - Noel Fehily, Bryan Cooper, Nico de Boinville, Richard Johnson, Mr Jamie Codd and Paul Townend - enjoyed two wins each.
         
Five riders enjoyed success at The Festival for the first time - Gina Andrews, Bryony Frost, Jack Kennedy, Lisa O'Neill and J J Slevin.

Sam Thomas remembers Denman a decade on from their famous Cheltenham Gold Cup success
 
A decade has now passed since Denman prevailed in one of the greatest-ever renewals of the G1 Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup. The build-up to the 2008 renewal was dominated by two Paul Nicholls-trained horses - Kauto Star and Denman. Kauto Star was the defending champion, having taken the 2007 renewal in great style, and then he gained another three G1 successes, taking a second Betfair Chase at Haydock Park, a second King George VI Chase at Kempton Park on Boxing Day and the Ascot Chase.
 
Denman had also been on the scoresheet at The Festival in 2007, capturing the RSA Chase by an impressive 10 lengths. The son of Presenting, owned by Paul Barber and Maggie Findlay, won his first three starts of the 2007/08 season. He began by defying top-weight of 11st 12lb in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury, putting up probably the best weight-carrying performance by a chaser so this century. He then headed to Ireland to win the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas before returning to Newbury for a facile 20-length success in the G2 Aon Chase.
 
The 2008 Cheltenham Gold Cup was staged on Friday, March 14, with an official going description of Good to Soft. Racegoers preferred the chance of Kauto Star, sending off the Clive Smith-owned chaser as the 10/11 favourite, with Denman second best at 9/4.
 
In addition to Kauto Star and Denman, Nicholls was also represented by 25/1 chance Neptune Collonges and it was the John Hales-owned grey who went out in front when the tapes went up, with Denman settled just in behind the leader and Kauto Star disputing third. Denman went into the lead heading into the final circuit and from then onwards the outcome wasn't really in doubt as he powered clear. Kauto Star attempted to close the gap three out, but was never quite getting there and at the finish it was Denman who prevailed by seven lengths. A rallying Neptune Collonges, who would go on to win the 2012 Grand National, almost snatched second from Kauto Star, finishing another short-head back in third.
 
Looking back at that momentous day, Sam Thomas recalled this week: "A lot of people have reminded me it's the 10th anniversary - how could I forget a day like that! I remember like it was yesterday. It was just unbelievable and such a great feeling. Denman undoubtedly gave me the best day of my racing life that day - he won the Cheltenham Gold Cup, something I will never ever forget."
 
Denman was found to have an irregular heartbeat during September, 2008, for which he underwent successful treatment. He was however restricted to just one appearance as he attempted to retain his crown, finishing second at Kempton Park. The 2009 Cheltenham Gold Cup saw the 2008 placings reversed, with Kauto Star defeating Denman by 13 lengths. Given all he had been through, it was a remarkable performance from Denman. He was also finished second in 2010 and 2011 Cheltenham Gold Cups. Denman is honoured with the Denman Chase, a leading trial for the Cheltenham Gold Cup which takes place at Newbury this weekend.
 
Looking ahead to the 2018 Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup, Thomas remarked: "I think that maybe this year's Gold Cup is not quite as open as it has been in recent years. For me, Might Bite looks the one to beat following his win in the King George. As was the case with Denman, he is proven at The Festival, having won the RSA last year. I think when he idled and wandered on the run-in, it was just one of those things and it wouldn't be something I would be too worried about this year."
 
Thomas is a trainer. Having been based close to Cheltenham at Northleach starting out, he is now training out of the historic Saxon House Stables in Lambourn. Former incumbents of Saxon House include the great Fulke Walwyn, who saddled 40 winners at The Festival, and more recently Noel Chance, who won the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup with Mr Mulligan (1997) and Looks Like Trouble (2000).
 
He declared: "I am really enjoying training at Saxon House. It is a very historic yard and a great place to be. We have had a bit of a slow start to this season, but we have some nice young horses and can hopefully have a decent spring campaign with them. It would be great to get back to The Festival as a trainer in the future."

Episode 1 of "Cheltenham Chats" can be accessed HERE. Gold Cup-winning jockeys Sam Thomas and Mick Fitzgerald along with Henrietta Knight, trainer of the three-time Gold Cup hero Best Mate, talk to Lee McKenzie about their Cheltenham memories.

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