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Can anybody beat Ruby to the Cheltenham top jockey prize?

The short answer is yes, the long answer is ‘yes, but it’s unlikely.’ Here’s why.

Ruby Walsh will hope Annie Power helps him to another Top Jockey title.
Ruby Walsh will hope Annie Power helps him to another Top Jockey title.
Image: PA Archive/Press Association Images

OF RUBY WALSH’S 40 Cheltenham festival wins 38 have come between Paul Nicholls (21) and Willie Mullins (17) and with horses like Douvan, Un De Sceaux ,Vautour, Faugheen, Annie Power, Briar Hill, Shaneshill and Champagne Fever this year, it’s very hard to look beyond the Kildare man again in 2015.

For that reason, Walsh is generally available at around 2/5 which — more most punters — makes him generally unbackable.

The likelihood is his main rival will come from Ireland with Barry Geraghty, Bryan Cooper and Tony McCoy leading the way.

Here, we take a look at their chances?

Barry Geraghty

Horse Racing - 2015 Cheltenham Festival Package Geraghty aboard Jezki last March. Source: PA Wire/Press Association Images

Geraghty sits second all time on the list of the most successful jockeys around Prestbury Park and is a multiple winner of all four feature races.

The returning Sprinter Sacre could well repeat his 2013 Champion Chase success while Peace & Co is a likely favourite for the Triumph Hurdle, even if there are question marks over just how good he is.

After that, things get a little more tricky for Geraghty with Bobs Worth showing nothing of his 2013 Gold Cup winning form in recent races.

Josses Hill, Beat That and Close Touch are others from the Nicky Henderson stable who represent decent chances but he’ll need two of the three to come in to stand a chance of the Top Jockey title. He’ll also suffer from the fact that Jezki, who he rode to last year’s Champion Hurdle, will almost certainly be steered by Tony McCoy this time around.

AP McCoy

Horse Racing - 2015 Cheltenham Festival Package Tony McCoy will hope to lift a final Gold Cup. Source: PA Wire/Press Association Images

Speaking of McCoy, a lot of money may well come in for the 19-time Champion Jockey as he prepares to take part in a Cheltenham festival for the last time as a rider.

Alongside Jezki in the Champion Hurdle, Mr Mole is not without his chances in the Queen Mother.

At Fishers Cross has a decent each-way chance in the World Hurdle now that More Of That won’t run but Irish Hennessy winner Carlingford Lough in the Gold Cup could well give the 40-year old a send off to remember on the final day.

However, like Geraghty, McCoy will need almost everything to come in to top Walsh but his odds of 10/1 are certainly tempting.

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Bryan Cooper

Horse Racing - 2014 Leopardstown Christmas Festival - Day Four - Leopardstown Racecourse Cooper in the famous Gigginstown House colours. Source: Niall Carson/PA Wire/Press Association Images

An interesting alternative to the pair is Bryan Cooper who many tip to take McCoy’s crown as a future Champion Jockey.

As the retained rider for Gigginstown, the 22-year old will have plenty of chances next week with Ryanair Chase favourite Don Cossack and the Gordon Elliott-trained No More Heroes at the forefront of the Albert Bartlett betting.

Road to Riches has every chance in the Gold Cup on Friday while many canny race watchers fancy Outlander to do the business in the Neptune. Oh, and of course there’s Don Poli in the RSA Chase.

Having broken through with a treble at the 2013 festival, Punters taking Cooper at 8/1 for top jockey will hope he has a better festival than last year when he suffering a broken leg.

As for Walsh, when you ride as many favourites as he will over the next week, there’s every chance you could have the Top Jockey title wrapped up midway through day two.

Who have we missed? Can you see anyone getting near Ruby? Let us know in the comments below.

- This article was originally published on 7 March on 9am

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About the author:

Steve O'Rourke

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