By Thomas Reynolds
7th March 2019
There are two races purely for amateur jockeys at the Cheltenham Festival, the Kim Muir and the National Hunt Novices’ Chase and a knowledge of the leading amateurs is key for those trying to make sense of the betting for both races.
For an exalted few, the announcement of their Festival rides tend to coincide with a stampede of bettors keen to back the horses in question.
Scroll down for the lowdown on the riders you need on your side when you’re scouring the National Hunt Novices’ Chase and Kim Muir Chase odds.
Mr JJ Codd on your racecard, the man they call ‘the Coddfather’ (pictured above) could be a pro any day of the week and is streets ahead of most not-for-profit pilots. He’s one of the go-to guys for the biggest Irish yards such as Willie Mullins and particularly Gordon Elliot.
Codd’s Festival resume includes four Kim Muir wins as well as a National Hunt Novices’ Chase and a hat-trick of victories against the professionals in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, Champion Bumper and Cross Country Chase of 2017.
He’s already been confirmed for the ride aboard Le Breuil in this years’ National Hunt Novices’ Chase (also known as the four miler).
One of the first names on your amateur jockey race betting team sheet along with the Coddfather, O’Connor is another corinthian synonymous with Festival success.
Victories in the four miler aboard Chicago Grey and Minella Rocco, and the Foxhunters on Zemsky have proven his Festival chops beyond question.
His association with leading owner JP McManus, means he’s often to be seen clad in JP’s green and gold silks at Cheltenham.
O’Connor’s presence in the saddle for Ok Corral’s win at Warwick in January sparked a deluge of ante-post bets on the horse in the 2019 National Hunt Novices’ Chase. Odds of 10/1 about the McManus-owned Any Second now in the Kim Muir Chase betting are sure to go the same way should he get the nod.
Mullins’ privileged position as his father Willie’s amateur of choice has enabled him to compile an enviable dossier of Festival successes, but there’s no question of nepotism alone earning him those plum rides.
Most recently triumphant at the March spectacular last season aboard Rathvinden in the four miler (his second win in the race), he appears destined to ride Ballyward in this year’s edition.
Mullins’ book of rides is also likely to include mounts in the Champion Bumper, which he won aboard Champagne Fever in 2012, and the Kim Muir.