Ruby Walsh (3/1 Top Jockey – Cheltenham Festival Specials) has revealed his best chance of a winner at Prestbury Park as he looks set to again start as the favourite to be the top jockey at the Cheltenham Festival next week.
The Irishman has been the leading rider in 11 of the past 15 festivals but his odds to take another title in 2019 are more generous than in recent times for a couple of reasons.
Walsh has not competed on the racecourse since February 21, when he picked up a slight injury in a fall at Thurles, but insists he is raring to go as always.
“I’m fine,” he said. “I got a kick in the foot and it was sore for a few days, but I’m busy riding out now.”
His 58 previous winners at the meeting speaks for itself but Walsh does appear to be becoming more injury prone as he approaches his 40th birthday.
He added: “I’ve been lucky really. I’ve been to 20-odd Cheltenhams since I started riding them. In 19 years, I’ve missed three and a half days.”
The popular 39-year-old faces stiff competition this year from Barry Geraghty and last year’s leading rider Davy Russell.
Geraghty has been top dog twice (2003 and 2012), while Russell picked up first Festival title last year after Walsh was carried off the course with a recurrence of a broken leg early on the second day of the meeting.
Walsh’s main concern could be choosing the right horses from Willie Mullins’ powerful stable that will attempt to win all the big races at Cheltenham.
But he believes one of his winners from last year has a great chance of making it back-to-back wins in the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle (Benie Des Dieux 10/11 Outright – OLBG Mares’ Hurdle NRNB).
“My best ride is Benie Des Dieux,” he said “I’m looking forward to riding her in the Mares Hurdle.
“Ask me that on Tuesday evening though, at six o’ clock if she gets beat, and I’ll probably have a different answer for you, but she looks the best out of what I have.”
Odds subject to change.