Grand National Jockeys – Who to Watch
We take a look at four of the leading 2018 Grand National jockeys to ride some of the favourites. We’ll highlight some of the main jockey performances as we draw ever nearer to the race. This year, all eyes will be on these men on Saturday April 14th 2018.
- Grand National Wins: 2, 2000 & 2005
Top Irish jockey, Ruby Walsh, hasn’t won the Grand National for 13 years. But with two successes, he’s still one of the most successful Grand National jockeys in the race that’s still riding. The first of his Grand National wins was an emotional one as it came riding Papillon (2000) for his father – Ted Walsh. The horse was well-backed that day into 10/1 and didn’t let punters down to win by 1 ¾ at the line. Ruby Walsh had to wait just five years for his second National winner. He steered Hedgehunter to victory in 2005 for trainer, and long-time boss, Willie Mullins.
Since then Ruby Walsh-ridden horses are always popular in the Grand National betting market. Backed-up in 2017 with his mount – Pleasant Company (9th) – supported into 11/1 third favourite. With Walsh having been injured for much of the 2017-18 season, a lot will hinge on his return to race riding. This will hopefully be just before the Cheltenham Festival. The 10 year-old, Pleasant Company, who was 9th in 2017, could be a possible ride for Walsh again. While the Mullins-trained Total Recall, who impressed in the Ladbrokes Gold Trophy (Hennessy Gold Cup), is another possible option if making the final runners.
- Grand National Wins: None
Top UK-based jockey – Richard Johnson – is yet to land the Grand National. So with time running out on his long career he’ll be keen to do what his pal AP McCoy did and land the big race before he retires. There has been no talk of Johnson retiring from the saddle, but at 40 years-old he can’t have many Nationals left. Having been runner-up as champion jockey 16 times, he was finally crowned champion jockey in 2016 and 2017. His Grand National record so far reads as follows – UR, F, F, PU, F, 2nd, 10th, BD, PU, PU, R, F, F, 9th, PU, 12th, 15th, 2nd, F, PU. Therefore, from 20 rides in the race he’s actually failed to complete in 14!
Two seconds in 2004 (What’s Up Boys) and 2014 (Balthazar King) have seen him go close. Though there is probably no other Grand National jockeys still riding that deserves to win the Grand National more. At this stage it’s hard to know what he’ll ride. But – if making the race – he’s built-up a strong partnership with the talented Native River. This would certainly be a horse to have on your radar.
- Grand National Wins: 2, 2014 & 2015
At 41, Leighton Aspell is one of the older statesmen in the jump weighing room. But with two recent Grand National wins under his belt, he’ll retire a happy man. Pineau De Re (2014) was the first of those victories as he steered home the Dr Richard Newland-trained 11 year-old. While he became the first jockey since Brian Fletcher on Red Rum in 1973 & 1974 to win back-to-back Grand Nationals in 2015 when he won on Many Clouds.
That winner gave popular owner – Trevor Hemmings – his third win in the race too as he also owned the 2005 & 2011 winners Hedgehunter & Ballabriggs. Apsell completed again in 2017 when riding the former Gold Cup winner – Lord Windermere – to be seventh in the race. He also rode Man Clouds to be 16th in the 2016 running. So, having completed in the last four Nationals he’s sure to be in popular demand when the trainers start to look for Grand National jockeys to ride their horses.
- Grand National Wins: 1, 2003
Aged 38, Barry Geraghty is another of the olderGrand National jockeys still riding that will be popular for punters. His record in the race reads 6th, F, UR, 1st, 4th, 16th, 6th, 3rd, 4th, F, 4th, F, 9TH, UR, PU, 9th, PU. So he has completed in 10 of his 17 starts to date, plus ridden one winner – Monty’s Pass (2003). He’s ridden three times without success in the race for trainer Nicky Henderson in recent years.
Being the number one jockey for Irish owner JP McManus, Geragthy is sure to have plenty of options ahead of the race. McManus took the race for the only time in 2010 with Don’t Push It, but is sure to fire a few arrows at the race again in 2018. At this stage the 2017 Cheltenham Gold Cup runner-up Minella Rocco would be an interesting option for Geragthy. He’s also trained by Jonjo O’Neill, who handled McManus other Grand National winner – Don’t Push It.
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