Tag Archive for: Jack Kennedy

Jack Kennedy claims first Irish jockeys’ title

Jack Kennedy survived having to sit out the final day of the season through suspension to claim his first Irish jump jockeys’ championship.

Paul Townend had topped the table for the past five years but went into the last afternoon of the Punchestown Festival trailing 123-119, with five booked rides left to turn things around.

His task was made even harder when opening mount Klarc Kent was pulled up and a smooth success for Lossiemouth only delayed matters, before Glengouly was another Townend ride who failed to complete the course.

Townend closed the gap to two when scoring on Kargese but was out of luck on his final mount Olympic Man.

Kennedy, who has struck up a formidable partnership with trainer Gordon Elliott, said: “It’s an unbelievable feeling to have won the championship.

Punchestown Festival – Day Five – Saturday May 4th
Trainer Gordon Elliott and new Irish National Hunt champion jockey Jack Kennedy (Brian Lawless/PA).

“Paul got close enough in recent weeks to give me loads of sleepless nights but I’m delighted to have hung on. I’ve had a great 12 months, leading the championship for much of the way and riding over 100 winners in a season for the first time in my career.

“There were loads of great days and riding Grade One winners in Ireland on such good horses as Gerri Colombe, Teahupoo, Farren Glory, Found A Fifty, Caldwell Potter and Irish Point was very special.

“A massive thanks to Gordon and all the owners, all the staff in Gordon’s and all the trainers that have supported me this year, my agent Kevin O’Ryan and everyone behind me. Without my family, this wouldn’t be possible.”

Elliott added: “I’m thrilled for Jack. We have been thinking about this day since he was 16!

“Unfortunately, he got a couple of hold-ups each year. Last year, he was clear but got hurt in Naas. We knew this year he was in good nick. He’s a lot stronger.

“I’m so happy. He deserves this more than anyone, with all the injuries that he’s had. He bounces back and that’s his attitude. Hopefully we’ll get another 10 or 15 years out of him.”

Willie Mullins
Willie Mullins receives his trainers’ championship award (PA)

Willie Mullins continued his domination of the National Hunt trainers’ championship in Ireland, coming out on top for the 18th time and adding to his memorable title triumph in Britain.

He said: “It’s fair to say that this has been our best season at home and abroad, and it is a credit to our hard-working and dedicated team that we are celebrating again today.

“The horses have been in some order from around November-time. They’ve just been so healthy and even this week, some of them have been putting in their best performances. When you have a healthy horse, they can keep on improving the whole season through.”

Champion owner JP McManus said: “It’s such a great honour to win this title and I feel so lucky. My sincere thanks to all the trainers, jockeys, stable staff and all who contributed so much to my success.

“I have had wonderful days out with my family, grandchildren and friends and the season has given me memories which I will greatly treasure.”

Danny Gilligan was crowned the champion conditional rider, Patrick Mullins was the leading amateur jockey and Jody Townend prevailed in the female version of that category.

Teahupoo strikes Stayers’ gold for Elliott

Gordon Elliott notched back-to-back victories in the Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle as Teahupoo stormed up the Cheltenham hill for Festival glory.

The seven-year-old could only finish third behind veteran stablemate Sire Du Berlais when sent off the 9-4 favourite 12 months ago, but made no mistake on his return to Prestbury Park in the hands of Jack Kennedy – who along with the Cullentra House handler was getting off the mark for the week.

Sent off the well-backed 5-4 favourite having not been seen since claiming a second Hatton’s Grace in December, he was ridden with plenty of confidence and also plenty of daylight as he charted a wide path on his latest trip to the Cotswolds.

Gordon Elliott (right) with jockey Jack Kennedy at the trophy presentation
Gordon Elliott (right) with jockey Jack Kennedy at the trophy presentation (Mike Egerton/PA)

Kennedy inched his mount into contention two out and although not fluent at the penultimate flight, he was hot on the tail of Flooring Porter as the business end approached.

Fellow Irish raiders Home By The Lee and Buddy One were also in the mix on the long run to the last but Teahupoo soon cemented his dominance and having jumped the final flight with a narrow advantage, he was not for catching in the closing stages as he sprinted clear of the gallant Flooring Porter.

Elliott said: “He’s best fresh so we said we’d come straight here. Listen, it’s great to get a winner. They’ve been running well, just hitting the crossbar, they’ve had no excuses but to win the Stayers’ Hurdle is unbelievable and I’m delighted for the whole team.

“It’s difficult to tell myself to stay patient when you don’t have a winner, it’s been a long couple of days but they’ve bene running well. We’ve got one now. This was always going to be our best day, this was one of our biggest guns.

“I was a little anxious when he missed the second-last and then he probably got there too soon because he had to give him a squeeze.

“I think he’s a stronger horse this year and saddling him I thought he’d grown.

“He’ll stay hurdling, we’ll never say never but at the moment he’ll stay hurdling. There are some nice races at Aintree and Punchestown for him so we’ll have a look at those.”

Gavin Cromwell was pleased with the effort of Flooring Porter (right)
Gavin Cromwell was pleased with the effort of Flooring Porter (right) (Mike Egerton/PA)

Of Flooring Porter, Gavin Cromwell said: “I’m delighted with the run, obviously you hate standing in the second place but that’s just the nature of the beast and I don’t think we could have done anything any differently.

“It was a very game performance, he was headed and tried all the way to the line. He was a good second and the winner is a worthy winner.

“We’ll have to consider going to Aintree, we’ll digest this first and we’ll see.

“He’s been a warrior and please God he’s not finished just yet.”

Home By The Lee was third for Joseph O’Brien, who said: “It’s nice to see him come back to himself with two fantastic horses in front of us.”

Paul Gilligan said of the fourth-placed Buddy One: “It was an absolutely super run and if the ground was just a touch better it would have suited him better, but I’m not complaining as to get in this semi-circle here is where you want to be.

“Obviously we were in the winning spot in November and we’ll try to get back in the winning spot here again sometime.

“He was very sore in his back after his last run in Leopardstown and scoped a little wrong as well. He has now proved that he is the horse that we think he is.

“As I’ve said all along it’s horses for courses and he loves this place.

“I’d say I’ll go over fences next season looking at the way he jumps, and it’s just great to have a horse like this for the three men that own him because getting people to back a small yard like ours is near impossible and they’ve invested in this horse and a couple of others. They’re just fantastic men.

“I have every confidence in this horse, he did a piece of work last week and it was just electric, so I did fancy him today.

“I definitely won’t go to Punchestown, we might go to Aintree as he ran very well last year, but we’ll see. I’m not going to abuse the horse and he’s entitled to a very good break now.”

Kennedy fired up for more Festival success

For a young jockey, Jack Kennedy is very familiar with the highs and lows that racing can supply.

The 24-year-old has experienced extremes of both throughout his career so far, winning 10 times at the Cheltenham Festival but missing the meeting completely due to injury twice.

He has suffered a broken leg on five different occasions, but each time has returned to action to seamlessly pick up where he left off.

Cheltenham success, which evades many good jockeys for years, came almost instantly to Kennedy when he partnered Labaik to victory in the 2017 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, despite the horse being a 25-1 chance with a history of refusing to race.

The triumph was no fluke, however, and at the 2018 Festival he rode four winners for Gordon Elliott, though the following year he drew a blank and returned to Ireland empty handed.

Kennedy aboard Labaik after his first Festival success in 2017
Kennedy aboard Labaik after his first Festival success in 2017 (David Davies/PA)

Injury prevented him from riding at the meeting in 2020, but the all-or-nothing nature of his Cheltenham fortunes was evidenced again in 2021, as he rode four winners, including the biggest prize of them all when partnering Henry de Bromhead’s Minella Indo to Gold Cup victory.

However, the whole event was held behind closed doors due to the coronavirus pandemic, something that struck him as he walked back to the paddock past an empty grandstand that would usually be brimming with people.

“It was class, obviously it was a pity there was no one there but the initial feeling I got when I crossed the line was the same as if the stands were packed,” he said.

“The walk down the chute and things afterwards, that’s when you realise there’s no one there, but it was a dream come true.”

Delta Work provided him with a sole victory in 2022 when winning the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase before a fall at Naas the following January scuppered any hopes of riding at the meeting last year.

Kennedy with Minella Indo after winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2021
Kennedy with Minella Indo after winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2021 (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

“Missing it last year was tough and there’s a while to go yet, so hopefully I do make it there,” the rider said.

“I’ll keep going, as when you start thinking about those sort of things, then something goes wrong then. I’ll keep going as usual.

“I suppose it’s just the cards you’re dealt. We seem to be going well this year.

“Labaik seems a while ago and obviously there’s been a couple of years I’ve missed through injury.”

The Cheltenham Festival is the pinnacle of the sport for many and for the big operations, from which people expect success, there is a great sense of pressure to get off the mark as soon as possible.

Kennedy aboard Delta Work
Kennedy aboard Delta Work (Mike Egerton/PA)

Spectators will be keenly waiting for the first success from the power stables of Willie Mullins and Elliott and this is a pressure that trails into the weighing room, too.

“To get a winner is great, we’ll try to pick up as many as possible – but if I get one, I’ll be happy,” said Kennedy.

“It’s a big help if you can get one on the board early, it kind of settles you into the week better than if you’re left waiting for one. It’s a massive help if you can get one on the first day.

“If you haven’t had a winner by the Thursday, you’d obviously be getting a bit anxious, but you’d try to not let it get it to you and you just have to keep riding as best you can.

“I suppose I get a bit nervous, but I wouldn’t let it get to me. Sitting in the weighing room, maybe the 10 minutes before you go out, you’re wanting to get on with it, but as soon as you get up on them, it all goes away.

“The weighing room is quieter than everywhere else, as everyone is in the zone. Once you get settled into the whole thing, everyone will loosen up a bit, but before the race people are probably a bit tense.

Kennedy and Gordon Elliott at the Festival in 2018
Kennedy and Gordon Elliott at the Festival in 2018 (David Davies/PA)

“It depends what sort of week you’re having, if it’s a good week it flies by and if it’s a bad week it can be the longest week of your life. In 2019, I didn’t have a winner there, that was a long week.”

Kennedy may have ridden a Gold Cup winner for De Bromhead but Elliott is the trainer with whom he is most readily associated and the two have a well-established bond.

“Gordon has been unreal. From the minute I came in here, he hasn’t been afraid to put me up on good horses,” he said.

“I’ve been up here on school holidays since I was 12 or 13 and started here full-time just before I turned 16.

“Myself and Gordon have the same ideas about things and seem to work well together. I’m sure he’s been unhappy with a few rides around there, actually in 2019 after the County Hurdle (unseated from Eclair De Beaufeau at the last), I got a bit of a telling off after that!

“Even if I did something wrong, Gordon would tell me but he forgets about it straight away and it’s on to the next one.”

It is clearly a partnership based on mutual esteem and loyalty and Elliott is unreserved in his praise for the rider, simply saying: “In my mind, he’s the best jockey riding, on either side of the Irish Sea – he’s different class.”

Where It All Began bags National Trial honours

Where It All Began got off the mark over fences in the QuinnBet Grand National Trial Handicap Chase at Punchestown.

Gordon Elliott’s eight-year-old had performed with credit in seven previous starts over fences but was yet to taste success in the discipline and was last seen winning in a maiden hurdle in January 2022.

Under Jack Kennedy, he stepped up to a staying trip of three miles and three furlongs for the first time at Punchestown and started as a 10-1 chance in a field of 15.

The gelding always looked comfortable but it was on the turn for home that the race became a test of stamina and it looked as though favourite We’llhavewan had the upper hand.

However, Where It All Began started to pick off his rivals, clearly relishing the extra distance as galloped home to take the Listed contest by an easy 16 lengths.

“He jumped great and never missed a beat the whole way,” Kennedy said.

“It probably looked turning in that I was going to finish third but stamina really kicked in when we straightened up. I’m delighted with him.

“He’s not reliant on heavy ground, just a test of stamina is what he wants.

“He’d been running well and threatened to do something like that.”

As a result of the performance Paddy Power and Betfair slashed his price for the Grand National from 200-1 to 50-1, with weights for the Aintree contest revealed on Tuesday.

Elliott nominated two alternative targets for the horse, however, one at the Cheltenham Festival in March and one closer to home at Fairyhouse, with only 34 runners permitted in the National this year.

He said: “He could go for the Kim Muir at Cheltenham or an Irish National. It was a good performance and he stays really well.”

Kennedy hits century for the first time at Punchestown

Jack Kennedy was thrilled to secure his first ever seasonal century of winners after Coko Beach made a foot-perfect debut in the cross-country sphere at Punchestown.

The multiple Grade One-winning rider has suffered more than his fair share of injury setbacks in recent years, but leads Paul Townend in the race to be crowned this season’s champion jockey in Ireland.

The 24-year-old was out of luck at the Dublin Racing Festival over the weekend, but made an immediate impact for his boss Gordon Elliott in the opening race on Monday.

Coko Beach, whose CV includes big-race wins in the Thyestes Chase and the Troytown, was the 11-8 favourite for the SBK P.P. Hogan Memorial Cross Country Chase and took to the new discipline like a duck to water, passing the post with six lengths in hand over Enda Bolger’s Genois.

Betfair halved the Gigginstown-owned winner to 5-1 for the championship event at Cheltenham in March.

Kennedy said: “It’s great to get it and it was lovely to do it on something like that – it’s probably as much fun as I’ve ever had on a racehorse, to be honest.

“He loved it and is a natural. I was excited when I saw him entered. Gordon has brought him to a local cross-country track for about a year to sweeten him up a bit. He’s won some good pots in that time.

“He loved it and was looking for the next one (obstacle) all the time. I’m not sure who enjoyed it more, me or him!

“He’s obviously a high-class horse and it opens up more doors for him.

“I was stuck on 99 for a while and delighted to get it done.”

Mercurey in the Punchestown winner's enclosure
Mercurey in the Punchestown winner’s enclosure (Alan Magee/PA)

Willie Mullins secured his 200th winner of the campaign later in the afternoon as the Rich and Susannah Ricci-owned Mercurey outclassed his rivals in the SBK Maiden Hurdle.

A debut winner in a Gowran Park bumper three years ago, the six-year-old had only run three time since and finished third on his return from over a year on the sidelines at this track three weeks ago.

With that comeback run under his belt, Mercurey was the 30-100 favourite to go a couple of places better under the trainer’s nephew Danny Mullins and was impressive in pulling 22 lengths clear of his rivals.

The rider, who enjoyed a treble at the Dublin Racing Festival on Saturday, said: “His jumping was very good. He got tight to one down the back, but I wanted to see what he was like on an in-between stride as well. He figured that out well and when you need him, he’s very good.

“He’s filled into himself for a tall horse. It took him a year after that good four-year-old season but he’s getting there now.”

Harmonya Maker shows true colours at Thurles

Harmonya Maker bounced back to form with a gutsy victory in the Grade Two Carey Glass Irish EBF Mares Novice Chase at Thurles.

The seven-year-old had jumped left when beaten at Cork last month and put in a below-par effort when a distant third behind Hauturiere in Limerick’s Dawn Run over the festive period

However, Gordon Elliott’s charge turned the tables to beat that rival with a one-and-a-half-length verdict at 100-30 on this occasion.

Silent Approach set the pace, followed by Harmonya Maker and then Hauturiere, who was put on the back foot by a mistake five out.

Harmonya Maker took control between the final two fences and was always doing enough under Jack Kennedy to fend off Hauturiere’s late challenge.

Kennedy said: “She threw her race away jumping left at Cork two runs ago – whatever that was about that day, but she jumped straight today.

“She had been disappointing in her last couple of runs but did what we had been expecting her to do all along.

“For whatever reason, she had been disappointing but it is great for her to put her best foot forward and is back to what we thought she’d be.”

The winner was cut to 16-1 for the Mrs Paddy Power Mares’ Chase at Cheltenham with Betfair and Coral.

Jetara now going from strength to strength

Jetara continued her rise through the ranks with a comprehensive success in the BeattheBank.ie Irish EBF Mares Hurdle at Leopardstown.

Jessica Harrington’s inmate is bred to be pretty smart, with her dam Jelan being a sister to several top-class performers – including Jetson, Jett, Jered and Champion Hurdle hero Jezki.

Listed bumper winner Jetara did not manage to get her head in front during her first season over obstacles but did chase home one-time Classic contender High Definition and smart mare Ashroe Diamond, and her lack of a victory meant she retained her novice status for the new campaign.

The five-year-old was well beaten in a Down Royal Grade Three on her reappearance, but bolted up in a maiden hurdle at Fairyhouse next time before adding another Listed win to her CV at Punchestown, and she was prominent in the market at 5-2 as she returned to Graded company at Foxrock.

Always travelling strongly in the hands of Jack Kennedy, Jetara was sent to the front jumping the final flight before the home turn and she was not for catching thereafter, galloping up the straight to score by seven and a half lengths from Pink In The Park, with 13-8 favourite Risk Belle back in third.

Harrington said: “She jumped and settled and he (Kennedy) said he couldn’t believe how much she picked up. He thought he had got there plenty soon enough and, when he asked her, she picked up well.

Jessica Harrington and Jack Kennedy with Jetara
Jessica Harrington and Jack Kennedy with Jetara (Brian Lawless/PA)

“We are delighted with her. She will be better on better ground – the whole family want better ground. She is the only one of them that is happy on that soft ground.

“She will probably come back here for the novice hurdle at the Dublin Racing Festival. We might as well, as she is still a novice. She jumps very slick and they (geldings) will have to give her 7lb.

“Then we will probably wait for Fairyhouse, which is early this year, for the mares’ Grade One. That will be kind of her programme.”

Facile Vega well beaten by Found A Fifty

Facile Vega proved a bitter disappointment as Found A Fifty claimed Grade One honours in the Racing Post Novice Chase at Leopardstown.

Having struck gold at the highest level in the bumper sphere and over hurdles, the Willie Mullins-trained Facile Vega was the 1-2 favourite to complete the set following a comfortable victory on his chasing debut at Navan last month.

With Paul Townend making the trip to Kempton to partner Allaho in the King George, Patrick Mullins was reunited with Facile Vega for the first time since he rounded off his unbeaten bumper campaign in the spring of 2022, but odds-on backers were ultimately left counting their losses.

Gordon Elliott’s Found A Fifty, who won on his fencing bow at Down Royal before chasing home I Am Maximus in the Drinmore at Fairyhouse three weeks ago, was unsurprisingly ridden aggressively by Jack Kennedy as he stepped back from two and a half miles to two miles and a furlong on the outskirts of Dublin.

The six-year-old showed a tendency to edge right at his fences, impeding Facile Vega on a couple of occasions, which prompted Patrick Mullins to switch inside racing down the back straight and he soon took over the lead.

Facile Vega looked to be travelling the better of the pair rounding the home turn, but while he faltered quickly to finish last of four runners, Found A Fifty kept galloping for Kennedy and passed the post with a length and a half in hand over My Mate Mozzie.

“He’s very quirky, but he’s got a massive engine,” Elliott said of the winner.

Gordon Elliott and Jack Kennedy following Found A Fifty's success
Gordon Elliott and Jack Kennedy following Found A Fifty’s success (Niall Carson/PA)

“To get a Grade One winner is brilliant as it looked like we were unlucky in Aintree (Farren Glory fell in Formby Novices’ Hurdle).

“Jack gave Found A Fifty a wonderful ride. He had to use his head everywhere as he even went to have a look at the rail after the first fence.

“He’s a good horse. He was actually the highest-rated novice chaser in England or Ireland coming into the race today but there is a quirk in him – most good ones have a little bit of a quirk.”

Elliott was also keen to praise his stable jockey, who has suffered more than his fair share of injuries in recent years.

The trainer added: “Jack is different class. He’s just a lovely fella. At home you wouldn’t even pick him out in the string. He’d ride a horse leg length and be nagging and twisting. He’s just a bit different.

“We’re very lucky to have him, holding onto him and keeping him in one piece now would be the problem.”

Sa Fureur takes advantage of Hunters Yarn tumble

Sa Fureur profited from the final fence exit of red-hot favourite Hunters Yarn to open his account over fences in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Beginners Chase at Fairyhouse.

The top-class pair of Blue Lord and El Fabiolo had landed the last two runnings of the extended two-mile contest for trainer Willie Mullins, jockey Paul Townend and owners Simon Munir and Isaac Souede, and Hunters Yarn was a 1-3 shot to make it a hat-trick for all concerned on his chasing bow.

A three-time bumper winner and twice successful over hurdles, Hunters Yarn looked to have victory in the bag after cruising to the front but blundered badly and crashed out at the last obstacle.

Gordon Elliott’s Sa Fureur, who had fallen on his fencing bow behind Mullins-trained star Facile Vega at Navan four weeks ago, was left in splendid isolation following Hunters Yarn’s tumble and came home with 40 lengths in hand over the eventual runner-up Byker under Jack Kennedy.

“He was a fortunate winner, but he was going to be a nice second and was running a good race,” Elliott said afterwards.

“I just hope the faller is okay, we had a bit of luck on our side – if you haven’t luck at this game, you have nothing.

“Jack said he showed a good attitude. We’ll probably look at one of those rated novice chases, or we could step him into a handicap.”

Elliott and Kennedy doubled up in the Hytech EQ Ultra 3-Y-O Maiden Hurdle, with Pacini justifying 5-4 favouritism with relative ease.

The three-year-old set the standard on jumping form, after finishing fifth and fourth respectively on his first two attempts, and he made it third time lucky with a six-and-a-half-length verdict.

Elliott added: “It looked like a grand opportunity and he did it well.

“He’s been working well at home and we fancied him the first day, he just got a fright. He jumped a lot better there today and he stayed going well. He’s going to win his races.”

Kennedy ended the afternoon with a treble after steering Ted Walsh’s 10-1 shot Pictures Of Home to a head victory in the Tote Always SP Or Better @Fairyhouse Handicap Hurdle.

Henry de Bromhead and Rachael Blackmore combined to land the Lacey’s Plumbing & Heating Supplies Maiden Hurdle with 7-2 chance Chigorin.

O’Moore Park, the 4-6 favourite to make a winning comeback after 596 days off the track, was ultimately a little disappointing in finishing third.

De Bromhead’s assistant, Robbie Power, said of the winner’s display: “We’re delighted with that. He stepped forward nicely from Naas, we thought he wanted three miles and he’s proved us right.

“He’s still learning, the penny is only starting to drop with him now, so hopefully he can keep improving.

“He’s an out-and-out stayer and you won’t see the best of him until he goes chasing. He’s a fine, big, strong horse and he’ll be a nice one to look forward to next season.”

In-form Kennedy bags Cork hat-trick

Search For Glory toughed out victory in the Singletons Supervalu Stayers Novice Hurdle at Cork, completing a treble on the card for jockey Jack Kennedy.

A field of five runners went to post for Grade Three contest, and all of them were still in with some sort of a chance rounding the home turn.

With the strong-travelling Mahon’s Way checking out quickly under pressure, and What Path also faltering in the latter stages of the three-mile contest, it was course and distance winner Solitary Man who threw down the biggest challenge to Gordon Elliott’s 7-4 favourite.

But in truth, Search For Glory was already winning the argument on the approach to the final flight and he asserted on the run-in to score by three lengths.

“He stays well, jumped and travelled great and is a progressive horse. He is a staying horse and hopefully he keeps going the right way now,” said Kennedy.

The in-form rider, fresh from a double at Navan on Saturday, had earlier won the first two races aboard Joseph O’Brien’s Harsh and the Elliott-trained No Time To Wait respectively.

Harsh and Jack Kennedy (right) won the opening race at Cork
Harsh and Jack Kennedy (right) won the opening race at Cork (Niall Carson/PA)

Having finished third on his jumping debut at Punchestown a fortnight ago, Harsh justified cramped odds of 2-5 with an eight-length success in the Bar One Racing ‘Bet 10 Euros Get 50 Euros Sign Up Offer’ 3-Y-O Maiden Hurdle.

No Time To Wait was a 3-1 winner of the Bar One Racing ‘Guaranteed Multiples All Shops’ Maiden Hurdle, with 4-6 shot Western Diego disappointing in fifth.

Of Harsh, Kennedy said: “His last jump was his best and it took him a while to warm into it. Some horses don’t really take to those rubber hurdles but he is a nice horse.

“He is learning away the whole time and it was probably a good race he finished third in at Punchestown. It was nice to get today done.”

Jack Kennedy at Cork on Sunday
Jack Kennedy at Cork on Sunday (Niall Carson/PA)

Cafe Con Leche was a 40-1 winner of the Bar One Racing “Guaranteed Overnight Prices” Handicap Hurdle for trainer Charles Byrnes and owner-rider Anthony Bustin.

Byrnes said: “I’m delighted for Anthony who works for me and he claimed the horse.

“I recommended him for €10,000 as he was looking for a horse to ride and I thought this fella would give him plenty of fun.”

The concluding Greenvalley Transport Novice Handicap Hurdle went the way of the John McConnell-trained West Away (10-1), ridden by Ben Harvey.

Elliott dominates again with Navan four-timer

Gordon Elliott continued in red-hot form with four winners at Navan.

The day started on the right note as Jigoro landed the Mervyn Gray Construction Maiden Hurdle under Jack Kennedy at 5-2, a convincing victory after making the running on his second start over hurdles.

The French-bred four-year-old is owned by Bective Stud and finished nine lengths ahead of Tom Coopers’ Butcher Hollow.

“It was a good performance and we knew he had improved plenty from the first day,” said Elliott.

“Obviously there was a lot of talk about Tom Cooper’s horse and I thought it was a good performance.

“Jack was delighted with him and said he’ll stay further. He said a faster gallop would have suited him but he was very happy with the run.

“He could go for the four-year-old hurdle at Limerick over Christmas.”

Caldwell Potter then provided another wide-margin success for the stable when landing the Headfort Arms Hotel Maiden Hurdle by seven lengths under Kennedy.

The grey is a full brother to the late Grade One winner Mighty Potter and was second on his hurdles debut last time out at Punchestown.

“He was a weak horse but he’s got a lot stronger,” Elliott said of the 8-13 favourite.

“We’ll try and keep it small with him if we can. He’s a chaser in the making, he’s a brother to Mighty Potter.”

There was a pause in the Elliott dominance as Henry de Bromhead took the Tote Navan Novice Hurdle with Slade Steel and Willie Mullins won the Listed Bective Stud, Tea Rooms & Apartments Handicap Hurdle with We’llhavewan – a seven-length winner at 10-1 under Paul Townend.

Patrick Mullins, assistant to his father Willie, said: “We weren’t sure about the ground but we stuck cheekpieces on him and we were getting in with a light weight.

“It was great prize-money so we took our chance and it’s brilliant. It’s a brilliant pot.

“He’s rated lower over fences but he didn’t jump fantastic over fences before. Paul came in there and said he might be better now so we might look at something over fences next.”

The Mullins team also took the Durnin Workshop Beginners Chase with Indiana Dream, a 13-length winner under Mark Walsh at 5-2.

Elliott was back in the prizes in the Listed Foxrock Handicap Chase, where Embittered defied odds of 16-1 to score by nine lengths under conditional rider Carl Millar.

“He won well and it was a nice pot,” said the trainer.

“He had nice run the last day in Cork, we were delighted with it, and he did it well there today. Carl is good value for 7lb.

“I’ve no real plan for him, we’ll try and find something similar.”

The final event of the day was also claimed by Elliott, though this time he was fraternising with the enemy somewhat as Patrick Mullins took the ride on My Trump Card in the Timeless Sash Windows INH Flat Race and won by nine lengths as the 30-100 favourite.

“He’s a lovely big galloping horse, a smashing horse, and he’s a horse for the future.

“He’ll go jumping now. He improved plenty from the last day, in fairness, so we’re delighted.

“It looked like a winnable race. We had another horse to run but he didn’t work as well as I thought he would the other day.

“He could maybe run again over hurdles at Christmas.”

Jockey Profiles: Blackmore, Kennedy, Townend

This is the third article in a series looking at the performance of some of the top National Hunt jockeys. Parts 1 and 2 can be read here and here. For this piece I will be heading over the water to examine the stats of three of the top Irish jockeys - Paul Townend, Jack Kennedy and Rachael Blackmore.

I have analysed NH data for racing from 1st Jan 2016 to 31st Oct 2023 with the primary focus being their respective records in Ireland. However, at the end of each jockey’s section I have shared a selection of their UK stats.

As with the first two articles the Geegeez Query Tool has been my ‘go to’ for data collection, and I have sourced further insights from the Geegeez Profiler to help with certain parts. Profits and losses have been calculated to Industry SP, but I quote Betfair SP where appropriate. All tables include A/E indices, and when any data has been pulled from the Geegeez Profiler Tool, I also share the PRB figures (Percentage of Rivals Beaten).

Let’s start with Paul Townend.

Paul Townend Overall Record

Below is Paul Townend’s Irish record across all runners during the study period:

 

 

A strike rate of better than one in four is comfortably the best we have seen so far in this series. The PRB of 0.66 is very high and the A/E index of 0.93 is comfortably above the average figure for all jockeys which stands at 0.87. Losses of nearly 16p in the £ to SP are a note of caution, however; to BSP this loss is reduced to just under 3p in the £.

Of course, Townend's overall win rate is so good because he rides primarily for the behemoth Willie Mullins yard – just over 65% of his total Irish rides have been for Mullins during this time frame. Below is his record with Mullins compared to all other trainers combined:

 

 

As we can see it is a staggering 34.2% strike rate when riding for Mullins in Ireland compared with 12.1% for all other trainers.

Paul Townend Record by Year

Yearly stats are my next port of call. Here is a breakdown by both win, and win/placed (Each Way) percentage / Strike Rate (SR%):

 

This graph is unlike any graph we have seen to date in this series. However, this is because in 2016 and 2017 Townend rode 239 times for Mullins but 534 times for other trainers. Since 2018 he has ridden 1443 times for Mullins and only 356 times for other trainers. Indeed, in 2022 and 2023 he has had 488 rides in total of which 475 have been for Mullins: just 13 for other trainers. As we have already seen, more rides for Mullins means better strike rates.

Paul Townend Record by Betting Odds / Price (SP)

A look next at his results by splitting them into different price bands:

 

 

The prices to concentrate on seem to be the shorter priced ones. Townend has almost broken even to SP with horses priced 13/8 or shorter. To BSP these runners would have made a small £21.10 profit (ROI +2.8%). Horses at the other end of the scale (16/1 or bigger) should be avoided if these past results are anything to go by.

Paul Townend Record by Race type

It is time to see if Townend’s record is better in chase or hurdle races:

 

 

He has ridden in far more hurdle races than chases, but his chase record looks slightly superior. When riding a clear favourite in a chase he has secured a strike rate of 54.3% (182 wins from 335) for an SP profit of £31.25 (ROI +9.3%). To BSP this increases a little to +£47.17 (ROI +14.1%).

Paul Townend Record by Racecourse

I am now going to look at all courses where Townend has had at least 100 rides. The courses are listed alphabetically:

 

 

His strike rate at Navan is modest by Townend's own standards but, thanks to a few double figure priced winners, he has edged into profit there. At Galway his stats are relatively poor, but Galway does stage highly competitive racing which could at least partially explain the figures. In contrast, the Tramore data are exceptional, hitting close to 40% of winners and showing excellent profits and a huge PRB figure of 0.75. For the record, in 2020 he won 8 of his 12 rides at the track and in 2022 won 8 out of 10.

Paul Townend Record by Run style

Time to look at an area that is still undervalued by some punters namely run style. Here is a breakdown of Paul Townend's run style performance in terms of win strike rate across ALL races:

 

 

This breakdown shows one of the strongest front running biases I have seen. A strike rate of 44% is mind-blowing. If you had been able to predict pre-race which of his horses went into an early lead you would have secured an SP profit of £40.60 (ROI +7.6%). Contrast that with the returns on all hold up horses, which would have produced significant losses of £197.00 (ROI -30.3%).

Let me also share his run style record when riding the favourite:

 

 

Front running favourites have produced outstanding results with prominent-racing favourites outperforming the other two groups.

Paul Townend UK data

Before moving on to our next jockey, let me take a quick look at Townend’s record in the UK. Overall, he has had 221 rides of which 38 have been successful meaning his strike rate has been 17.2%. (179 of his 221 rides have been for Mullins). His strike rate is lower here compared to Ireland as two thirds of his rides have come at Cheltenham with the majority of those being at the Festival. His Cheltenham strike rate is exactly 17% and you would have made a 10.7% profit if backing all his rides at the track. He is a rare visitor to tracks away from Aintree and Cheltenham, but at Perth he is 4 from 9 (SR 44.4%) for a profit of £5.50 (ROI +61.1%).

Possibly the most interesting UK stats are related to market position. Backing Townend on favourites would have lost you nearly 22p in the £; backing him on second favourites this worsens to losses of over 64p in the £. However, if backing runners from outside the top two in the betting you would have made an SP profit of £49.00 (ROI +41.5%).

 

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Jack Kennedy Overall Record

Jack Kennedy’s record across all Irish races is as follows:

 

Kennedy is close to hitting 17% in terms of win rate, with a slightly above average A/E index and a decent PRB figure. Losses have been around 20p in the £ to SP which is still some way below the average. To Betfair SP you would have turned that loss into a small profit of £112.36 (ROI +4.2%). However, one big-priced Betfair winner (168.49) is responsible for that.

My next port of call is looking at his yearly figures.

Jack Kennedy Record by Year

Below we see the yearly breakdown by strike rate - both win, and win/placed (Each Way):

 

 

In general, we have seen an uptick in the past four years with 2020, 2022 and 2023 seeing win percentages more than 20%. 2021 looks disappointing from a win perspective but the each way figure suggests he was perhaps a little unlucky that year. This was also the year when his main trainer, Gordon Elliott, was suspended for six months, which is surely a contributory factor.

While discussing each way stats they have also been much stronger since the start of 2020.

Jack Kennedy Record by Betting Odds / Price (SP)

I would like to look at the market now and I am splitting results up by the same Starting Price bands as earlier:

 

 

The shortest price band (Evens or shorter) have actually nudged into a miniscule profit. Horses priced 4/1 or shorter have completely outperformed those 9/2 or bigger when looking at returns and A/E indices. To BSP, horses priced 4/1 or shorter have made a small profit to £1 level stakes of £30.21 (ROI +3.2%). Overall, it looks worth avoiding bigger priced runners ridden by Kennedy.

Jack Kennedy Record by Race type

Under the microscope next comes Jack's record in hurdle races and chases.

 

 

We have a very similar set of figures for both race types. However, it is worth splitting the hurdle stats into handicap versus non-handicaps. In non-handicaps his strike rate has been 21% with SP losses of 11p in the £; in handicaps the strike rate drops to under 10% (9.1%) with losses of 40p in the £. To BSP non-handicaps have made a profit of £214.60 (ROI +18.1%), handicaps have still made a significant loss of £187.96 (ROI -28.1%).

Jack Kennedy Record by Racecourse

It is course data next for Kennedy. As earlier, 100 runs at a track is the cut off point for the table:

 

 

Kennedy has crept into profit at just Down Royal thanks mainly to an excellent strike rate of over 28%. He has a very good record on favourites at this track winning on 20 of the 31 of them. Not only that, of the other 11 he has finished placed on nine. Backing all Kennedy-ridden favourites at Down Royal would have yielded an SP profit of £10.45 (ROI +33.7%). To BSP this nudges up slightly to £11.69 (ROI +37.7%).

Jack Kennedy Record by Trainer

Nearly 80% of his rides have been for Gordon Elliott and their record together is much stronger than when we combine Kennedy with all the other trainers he has ridden for. Here are those splits:

 

 

It is interesting when we revisit the Down Royal stats in terms of trainers. When teaming up with Elliott, Kennedy is 35 from 96 (SR 36.5%), all other trainers have provided just one win from 20.

Jack Kennedy Record by Run Style

Let me look at the run style splits next starting with win percentages:

 

 

His front running record is excellent and if you had been able to predict pre-race which of his horses went into an early lead you would have secured an SP profit of £61.57 (ROI +21.5%). Conversely, backing all hold up horses would have seen huge losses of £314.42 (ROI -51.3%).

Let me also share his run style record when riding the favourite:

 

 

It is the same powerful message that we have seen numerous times before. It is remarkable to think that front-running favourites have been twice as successful as held up favourites in terms of win percentage.

Jack Kennedy UK data

Before moving onto Rachael Blackmore, a quick look at Kennedy's UK stats. He is not a regular visitor and comes primarily for the big two festivals at Cheltenham and Aintree. His overall UK record reads 17 wins from 123 (SR 13.8%) for an SP profit of £45.31 (ROI +38.8%). He has had three winners priced between 20/1 and 25/1 which skew the profit figure somewhat. At Cheltenham he has had 11 wins from 76 (SR 14.5%), while at Aintree he has won 4 races from 25 rides (SR 16%).

 

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Rachael Blackmore Overall Record

Rachael Blackmore burst to prominence in 2021 when she not only won the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham but she also became leading jockey at the Festival, a month before being the first female jockey to win the Grand National, on Minella Times. A year later she repeated her win in the Champion hurdle and followed it up with success in the Gold Cup: it is quite a CV she is building. I will look at her UK stats at the end of this section, but let me start with Irish data and her overall record there:

 

 

Her overall figures look moderate, especially when comparing them to the other jockeys we have looked at to date in this series. However, to BSP losses have been massively reduced to just 3p in the £ rather than 23p. We do need to examine her yearly stats as they will paint a clearer picture.

Rachael Blackmore Record by Year

Below we see her yearly breakdown by strike rate - both win, and win/placed (Each Way):

 

 

As you can see, she started from a very low base in 2016 winning less than 7% of the time. Compare that with the improved record from 2018 which coincides with getting more rides for trainer Henry de Bromhead. 2021 was her best year in terms of both win and each way strike rates.

Rachael Blackmore Record by Betting Odds / Price (SP)

Time to examine different price bands to see if any patterns emerge:

 

 

We see a similar trend here to both Townend and Kennedy, where shorter priced runners have been better value. Horses sent off at evens or shorter have made a profit, albeit only just. Once the prices hit 9/2 or bigger the results are relatively modest.

Rachael Blackmore Record by Race type

It is chases versus hurdles next:

 

 

The returns on investment (ROI) for each group are within 1% of each other. She has a better SR% in chases, but this is more down to field size than anything else (average field size in hurdle races is bigger than in chases).

Rachael Blackmore Record by Racecourse

Splitting Rachael's results up by course next. 100+ rides again to qualify:

 

 

Just one course has seen a strike rate higher than 20% which is Naas, standing at 23.8%. Blackmore has made decent profits there, too, and her A/E index of 1.31 is also excellent. She has had winners at 25/1 and 22/1 at Naas, but she has made a solid profit with shorter priced runners, too. Indeed, focusing on Naas runners from the top two in the betting, you would have been rewarded with 22 winners from 50 (SR 44%) for an SP profit of £16.98 (ROI +34%). Tipperary has edged into profit, and she has a good record on favourites there (13 wins from 28) returning 19p in the £ to SP. Her overall record at Downpatrick has been poor in comparison, although there have been better signs in the past two years with 4 wins from 24 (SR 16.7%).

Rachael Blackmore Record by Trainer

Henry de Bromhead has provided just under half of Blackmore’s rides during the period of study, but that figure is around 70% when we focus in on this year 2023. There are three other trainers that she has had at least 75 rides for and has ridden for them this year - they are also in the table below:

 

 

Her strike rate when teaming up with de Bromhead is good and the partnership would have made a blind profit to BSP, although those profits were accrued over 2018 and 2019. At Naas Blackmore and de Bromhead have combined to win 23 of their 71 starts (SR 32.4%) for a healthy SP profit of £76.04 (ROI +107.1%).

Rachael Blackmore Record by Run Style

The final main Irish section focuses on Blackmore and her run style stats.

 

 

Front runners would have yielded excellent returns of 28p in the £ if you had predicted their run style pre-race. Compare that with losses for both mid-division runners and hold up horses who both would have lost a whopping 46p in the £. Front runners for de Bromhead have won just over 30% of the time when Blackmore has been on board.

Now favourites split by run style:

 

 

As with the ‘all runners’ stats, front-running favourites would have proved profitable while hold up/midfield favourites would have lost 37p and 42p in the £ respectively.

Rachael Blackmore UK data

Earlier I mentioned some of Rachael's successes in the biggest UK races so let us look at her overall record in this country:

 

 

These are very solid figures considering 45% of her UK rides have come at the Cheltenham Festival. Her Festival record is similar to her overall UK record with a 16.1% SR% and positive returns of almost 15p for every £1 staked. However, it should be noted that a Festival winner in 2019 was priced at 50/1 and this skews the overall figures somewhat.

When Blackmore has been on a favourite in the UK her record reads an impressive 11 wins from 25 (SR 44%) for a profit to SP of £10.88 (ROI +43.5%). Indeed, when riding second favourites her record has also been positive – 10 wins from 32 runners (SR 31.3%) for a profit of £8.33 (ROI +26%). At the Cheltenham Festival she is 12 from 26 (SR 46.2%) when combining her rides on horses first or second in the betting for an SP profit of £15.16 (ROI +58.3%).

20 of her 30 winners have come for de Bromhead, while her rare trips to Huntingdon have seen three winners and a second from four rides. Finally, her record in Grade 1 events has been excellent, hitting 20% success rate thanks to 14 winners from 70.

Main Takeaways

Paul Townend (Irish racing)

  1. He has an excellent 34% strike rate for Willie Mullins.
  2. Horses priced 13/8 or shorter have provided the best value.
  3. Townend has a strong record when riding a favourite in a chase.
  4. He has a good record at Tramore but has struggled a little at Galway.
  5. Townend has an exceptional 44%-win rate on front runners.

Paul Townend (UK racing)

  1. Runners outside the top two in the betting have provided by far the best value.
  2. He is a rare visitor to Perth, but he has a good record from his handful of rides.

Jack Kennedy (Irish racing)

  1. Horses priced 4/1 or shorter have provided the best value, especially those priced Evens or shorter.
  2. Kennedy has a good record in non handicap hurdle races. Conversely his record poor in handicap hurdle contests.
  3. Kennedy has a good record at Down Royal on all price bands. This includes favs where his record is very strong.
  4. As with Townend he has very strong record when riding front runners.
  5. His record on favourites that are held up early in a race is poor.

Rachael Blackmore (Irish racing)

  1. Horses priced Evens or shorter has edged into profit. Horses priced 9/2 or bigger have proved to be relatively poor value.
  2. Blackmore has a very good record at Naas, especially when the horse comes from top two of the betting. Also, when riding for De Bromhead her record at Naas has been excellent.
  3. She has done extremely well at Tipperary when riding the favourite.
  4. She is a solid record on front runners both when favourite and when not favourite.
  5. Favourites that race mid division or further back early in the race have a very poor record (when comparing them to all favs).

Rachael Blackmore (UK racing)

  1. Has an excellent record on favourites.
  2. At the Cheltenham festival she has an outstanding record on either favs or second favs.
  3. She has a strike rate of 20% in Grade 1 events which is roughly double the average figure for all jockeys.

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So, there you go! Our trip over the Irish sea is completed. Next time, it’s back to the UK.

- DR

Farren finishes strongly to grab Royal Bond Glory

Farren Glory led home a one-two for Gordon Elliott in the Bar One Racing Royal Bond Novice Hurdle at Fairyhouse.

Elliott fielded three in the Grade One contest, with Jack Kennedy opting to ride 11-2 shot Farren Glory as An Tobar was sent off the 5-2 favourite for Henry de Bromhead.

Rachael Blackmore had the market leader to the fore throughout, disputing the lead with Horantzau D’airy before his early exertions told and he dropped away, leaving An Tobar in the driving seat.

However, King Of Kingsfield was travelling notably well for Elliott and jockey Jordan Gainford and he seized the initiative heading down to the final flight, with Farren Glory jumping the last a bit awkwardly in second.

Despite a slight check on his momentum, Farren Glory found plenty for Kennedy on the run to line, eventually pipping his stablemate by a length and a half, with a further length and a quarter back to An Tobar in third.

Paddy Power make the winner a 16-1 shot for both the Supreme and Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle contests at the Cheltenham Festival.

Farren Glory and connections in the winner's enclosure
Farren Glory and connections in the winner’s enclosure (Brian Lawless/PA)

Elliott, who also saddled fifth-placed What’s Up Darling, said: “In fairness to Jack, he picked this lad – he had the choice of all three and I wasn’t sure he was on the right one.

“He’s riding out of his skin. There is only one winning line and he gave him a great ride.

“We knew he stayed well and won over a longer trip the last day.

“This is back where it all started for me. I trained my first Cheltenham Festival winner (Chicago Grey in 2011) for John Earls, a brother of Michael and uncle of Niall, who owns this lad.

“They put a lot into racing with their company Easifix. They have been looking for a good one for a while and we found this one, thankfully.”

Elliott could now look at Grade One dates in Britain over the Christmas period, with Leopardstown’s festive feature not expected to suit quite as well.

“He’s going to have to improve again, as I’d say it wasn’t the strongest Grade One ever, but it is never easy to win them,” the trainer said.

“He did everything wrong in Clonmel. We didn’t want to make the running and we had to, so we were hopeful with a bit of pace today and he sat in behind the leader.

“I’m not sure where he will go next. Leopardstown might not be the track for him on quick ground and I wouldn’t be shocked if we brought him to England for the Tolworth (now the Formby Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree) or the Challow.”

Of the runner-up, Elliott added: “King Of Kingsfield ran a big race. He’s still a maiden and Jordan was kicking himself saying he was in front too soon. He could win a big one and will be short in a maiden hurdle the next day!”

Imagine digs deep to claim Craddockstown crown

Imagine was made to pull out all the stops to maintain his unbeaten record over fences in the BetVictor Craddockstown Novice Chase at Punchestown.

The five-year-old made a smart start to his chasing career at Fairyhouse earlier in the month and was a 30-100 favourite to follow up at Grade Two level just under three weeks later.

Supporters of Gordon Elliott’s charge were made to sweat, though, with Uncle Phil giving a bold sight in front for a long way, while the late challenge of Lucid Dreams provided another scare.

However, Imagine eventually mastered Uncle Phil after the final fence and had just enough in the tank to repel Lucid Dreams by half a length.

Elliott and jockey Jack Kennedy were completing a treble on the card following the earlier victories of 4-1 shots Shannon Royale and Bob Cigar.

Elliott said: “He’s a nice horse and probably wants further. Two and a half miles would probably suit him better.

“The Grade One in Limerick at Christmas could be an option or we might bring him to Kempton on Boxing Day for the Grade One novice (Kauto Star Novices’ Chase, over three miles) and run Gerri Colombe in the King George, but I could change my mind 10 times before then!”

Elliott stands by Troytown team

Gordon Elliott has defended the number of runners he had in Navan’s Troytown Chase on Sunday after reiterating his desire to one day be crowned Ireland’s champion trainer.

Elliott ended up seeing 14 of his Cullentra House battalion face the starter for the  €100,000 handicap and saddled four of the first five home with 20-1 shot Coko Beach scooping the big pot for Gigginstown House Stud.

It is a contest Elliott has enjoyed great success in down the years and having been responsible for nearly three-quarters of the final field of 20, he simply believes he is doing what is best for both the horses in his yard and their owners by targeting the race.

Gordon Elliott with jockey Danny Gilligan and Coko Beach after winning the Troytown at Navan
Gordon Elliott with jockey Danny Gilligan and Coko Beach after winning the Troytown at Navan (Brian Lawless/PA)

“I started with nothing and didn’t get handed anything, I’ve worked for everything I’ve got,” explained Elliott.

“We didn’t stop any horse running in the race, the race didn’t fill and I think if I only run one or two horses then there might only be eight or nine in the race.

“I think for a €100,000 race, for Bar One who are sponsoring the race and for Navan, it would be embarrassing if there is only eight or nine runners in it.

“All my owners are paying training fees and entry fees and they want to run, so I don’t think I have anyone to answer to. All I want to do is do my best for every horse and every owner.”

Gordon Elliott currently tops the Irish trainers' championship
Gordon Elliott currently tops the Irish trainers’ championship (Brian Lawless/PA)

Coko Beach brought up winner 115 for the season for Elliott with American Mike’s impressive chasing debut quickly taking that total to 116.

He currently stands €500,000 ahead of his great rival Willie Mullins at the head of the standings in Ireland and although still dreaming of a first title, concedes his priorities have changed since his well-documented ban in 2021, with his focus firmly on training as many winners as possible..

“If you had asked me about that two or three years ago, it was all I would have thought about,” he said about the title.

“If you ask me my ambition in life, it is to be champion trainer, but I probably look at life a little different now to how I did before what happened (the ban).

“It’s what I want to do and what I would love to do and my aim in life, but you look at things and people a lot different.”

When asked about his current motivation, he added: “Winners. I’m probably selfish and all I care about is training winners. It’s not ideal sometimes but I love what I do.

“I love training winners. I worked for a man called Martin Pipe and he loved it and I’m probably unfortunate that I was born in the same era as a man called Willie Mullins.

“Willie makes us all better and hungrier and I just like to do my best and keep him honest.”

Although realistic about his own title ambitions, Cullentra House number one Jack Kennedy has a real chance of getting his hands on a first title having partnered 60 winners so far this term.

Jockey Jack Kennedy (right) and his boss Gordon Elliott
Jockey Jack Kennedy (right) and his boss Gordon Elliott (Brian Lawless/PA)

That puts him 18 clear of nearest rival Paul Townend and Elliott believes he is in a great position to remain on top spot until the end of the season.

“I would love to see Jack Kennedy be champion jockey and I think it’s going to happen some day,” said Elliott.

“Whether that is this year, next year or the year after I don’t know. Just looking he has 60 winners already and I think last year when he had the fall he had 77 winners during the first week in January.

“It looks like he is ahead of last year and it looks like he is in a better position than last year to be honest.

“Last time he always had to worry about Davy Russell and now he is first jockey and has the pick of everything. I’m sure it will be something he would love to do anyway.”