With less than four weeks to go, the countdown is well and truly on for the 2021 Cheltenham Festival. It’s not just top horses on show at the Cheltenham Festival, but most of the finest jump jockeys from around the world, with Davy Russell and Paul Townend set to battle it out once more to be top Cheltenham jockey. While their abilities are undeniable, there are plenty of jockeys riding in their shadows and we’ve taken a closer look at three young jockeys that could bag a winner or two at the 2021 Cheltenham Festival.
3 jockeys to watch at the 2021 Cheltenham Festival
Champion conditional jockey in Ireland for 2019-20, O’Keeffe made headlines following his win on A Plus Tard in the Savills Chase at Christmas.
This topped off a December to remember for O’Keeffe that brought him success in the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup at Cheltenham aboard Chatham Street Lad, and his first-ever graded winner on Sayce Gold at Cork. Both these horses are set to run at the Festival and if lining up, you can be sure that O’Keeffe will be in the saddle.
A ride on A Plus Tard in the Cheltenham Gold Cup may be a step too far – with Rachael Blackmore likely to take that honour – but O’Keeffe will be in the mix to partner Minella Indo, trainer Henry de Bromhead’s other intended Gold Cup runner.
Still only 20, it’s been a golden time for O’Keeffe and he’ll be desperate for more big stage success come Cheltenham week. Definitely one of the jockeys to watch at the 2021 Cheltenham Fesival.
Still a conditional jockey, Torrens is riding at the top of his game right now, having chalked up four winners in February alone, for four different trainers.
Sitting at 26 winners for the season, the Northern Irish jockey started the month by landing a 116/1 double at the Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown. He was victorious on Drop the Anchor for trainer Pat Fahy and A Wave of the Sea for Joseph O’Brien, giving them each an excellently timed ride to grab the wins late on.
Both horses are owned by JP McManus and with his 5lb claim, Torrens will no doubt be sporting the McManus silks in some Cheltenham Festival handicaps. In form and with his valuable claim, Torrens is one to keep a close eye on come Festival week.
Carver burst onto the scene on New Year’s Day 2019 when he rode an 883/1 treble at Exeter, eventually riding 23 winners that season. So far this season, he’s ridden 23 winners including Magic Saint who ran out an easy victor at the November meeting at Cheltenham.
Carver will be aiming to be reunited with Magic Saint at the Cheltenham Festival and the Paul Nicholls trained horse holds an entry in the Queen Mother Champion Chase.
Being attached to the powerful Nicholls yard and still having a 3lb claim, you can expect Carver to pick up some good rides at Cheltenham, particularly in the handicaps.
We can’t promise another 883/1 treble come Cheltenham week, but don’t be surprised if Carver does the business on a big priced runner and is certainly one of the jockeys to watch at the 2021 Festival.
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