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Monday, February 7, 2005


Champion Tony McCoy, with 15 wins to date, is the most successful current jockey at The Festival. Since partnering Kibreet to success in the 1996 Grand Annual Chase, the record-breaking rider has gone on to land a further 14 successes, with his two greatest triumphs coming in 1997 through a rare double aboard Mr Mulligan in the totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup and Make A Stand in the Smurfit Champion Hurdle two days earlier. He was also leading rider in both 1997 and 1998, although in each of the three most recent seasons he has only managed one winner.

McCoy is closely followed by Mick FitzGerald and Richard Johnson, who both have 11 successes each, while Barry Geraghty and Carl Llewellyn are next with seven wins. The hugely competitive nature of The Festival is demonstrated by the fact that The Daily Telegraph Leading Rider Award has been won by three different jockeys for the past three years.

In 2004, Jim Culloty became only the fifth jockey in history to have won three renewals of the totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup when partnering Best Mate to victory. If that horse can land chasing's Blue Riband for a fourth time in 2005, Culloty will join Pat Taaffe as the winning most jockey in the race's history and become the only rider to achieve this feat on the same horse.

The previous winners of The Daily Telegraph Leading Rider Award are listed below, with current jockeys in bold. (On some occasions the winner was decided on the number of placed horses partnered):

2004 Ruby Walsh (3)
2003 Barry Geraghty (5)
2002 Richard Johnson (2)
2001 Cancelled - foot & mouth
2000 Mick FitzGerald (4)
1999 Mick FitzGerald (4)
1998 Tony McCoy (5)
1997 Tony McCoy (3)
1996 Richard Dunwoody (2)
1995 Norman Williamson (4)
1994 Charlie Swan (3)
1993 Charlie Swan (4)
1992 Jamie Osborne (5)
1991 Peter Scudamore (2)
1990 Richard Dunwoody (2)
1989 Tom Morgan (2)
1988 Simon Sherwood (2)
1987 Peter Scudamore (2)
1986 Peter Scudamore (2)
1985 Steve Smith Eccles (3)
1984 Jonjo O'Neill (2)
1983 Graham Bradley (2)
1982 Jonjo O'Neill (1)
1981 John Francome (3)
1980 Jim Wilson (3)

Edward Gillespie, Cheltenham's Managing Director, said: "Riding a winner at The Festival is a highlight of any jockey's career and there are few more coveted prizes than The Daily Telegraph Award. The Festival is one of the few occasions where both top professional and amateur races ride on the same card and this is an integral part of our great sporting heritage."


This year The Daily Telegraph is once again sponsoring the Leading Rider Award at The Festival and the contest will be as competitive as ever with a host of riders battling it out for the prize of a trip for two to the La Manga resort in Spain.

Following his success at The Open meeting in November, 2004, Timmy Murphy has to be one of the favourites to win the prize, while two other likely candidates are defending champion Ruby Walsh, who has a number of fancied rides including 2004 Champion Chase winner Azertyuiop, and Tony McCoy who is sure to have a powerful book of rides.

Other Irish challengers include 2003 winner Barry Geraghty, who is gunning to land a big-race double with Moscow Flyer and Kicking King, and Paul Carberry, who has two very promising rides on Beef Or Salmon in the totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup and Harchibald in the Smurfit Champion Hurdle.

Jim Culloty will be hoping for success with his rides on three-time champion Best Mate in the Gold Cup and stable companion Edredon Bleu in the Daily Telegraph Festival Trophy Chase.

The award will be decided on the number of winners ridden over the four days with placed horses taken into consideration in the event of a tie.

The Daily Telegraph is the proud sponsor of the new two-mile-five-furlong race, The Daily Telegraph Festival Trophy Chase, on Thursday March 17, 2005.


Mark Bradburne, seeking his third success at The Festival, is looking forward to riding at the event again this year.

The 28-year-old Scotsman's initial win came while he was an amateur, partnering Relaxation to victory for trainer Henry Daly in the four-mile National Hunt Chase in 2000. It was his first ride for Daly and Relaxation, an eight-year-old, won at 8/1 by six lengths in a course record time of 8 min 0.6 secs.

Bradburne, whose mother is Fife trainer Sue Bradburne, turned professional in the August of 2000 when on the 59-winner mark - he also rode on the Flat as part of the European FEGENTRI series which he won in 1999.

His second victory at The Festival came on 8/1 chance Palarshan, also for Daly, in the 2003 Grand Annual Handicap Chase.

Looking ahead to this year's Festival in March, the first over four days, Bradburne commented: "Basically, it's up in the air at moment what I will be riding at this year's Festival.

"There are a few who I might get the chance to ride for Mr Daly, depending on Richard Johnson's availability - hopefully he will be riding something else!

"One potential ride is Palarshan. He is a previous Festival winner and ran well when third in the Ladbrokes Trophy at Cheltenham last time out.

"I'm not sure what his best trip is these days, but I suppose the Mildmay of Flete Handicap Chase would probably be his aim.

"There are plenty of people that I ride for talking about taking horses to Cheltenham who wouldn't appear to have great chances at this stage but, come the day, the races often look very different."

Looking back on his two previous Cheltenham Festival successes, the rider added: "My wins on Relaxation and Palarshan stand out as the highlights of my career so far.

"Finishing third in the Grand National on Lord Atterbury was also a tremendous thrill and it was great to win a Grade One race at Ascot on Hand Inn Hand."

Bradburne married former jockey Gee Armytage in July and the couple hold a unique place in Cheltenham history as both have won twice at The Festival.

Gee's victories came in 1987 when she was amateur, though she turned professional at the end of that year.

She was not the first woman rider to triumph at The Festival - that distinction went to Caroline Beasley in 1983. But, when she won on Gee-A in the Mildmay Of Flete, she became the first woman to succeed against professional jockeys at The Festival. Her other victory was on The Ellier in the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Amateur Riders Handicap Chase.

Bradburne joked: "We've both ridden two winners at The Festival so I'm trying to beat her!

"Fortunately, at least she can't beat me now! However, she rode both her winners in the same year and only lost out, on placed horses, on being leader rider at the meeting, so she's got one over me there!"


Cheltenham Racecourse has joined forces with leading racing information portal sportinglife.com to launch a new microsite ahead of The Festival.

The microsite, sponsored by Guinness, can be accessed by visiting www.sportinglife.com/racing/cheltenham2005/ and there is also a direct link from Cheltenham's own website, www.cheltenham.co.uk

Included on the microsite are all the latest entries, news, audio clips of the leading trials as well as a whole host of betting information, tipsters, and an odds-comparison engine - crucial for those ante-post bets.

Tickets can also be booked online via the microsite as can hotels in the Cheltenham area while there is also merchandise available to purchase.


Hotels can now be booked direct from Cheltenham Racecourse's own website, www.cheltenham.co.uk

In association with activehotels.com, users can access a comprehensive database of hotels in Cheltenham and the surrounding area (Cheltenham, Gloucester, Dursley, Stroud, Cirencester and environs) and book their accommodation online.

As well as providing a valuable resource for those seeking to book accommodation when there is racing at Cheltenham, it is also sure to be beneficial for those planning a trip to the Cotswolds at any time of year.


Tony McCoy 15
Richard Johnson 11
Mick FitzGerald 11
Barry Geraghty 7
Carl Llewellyn 7
Ruby Walsh 6
Paul Carberry 5
Jim Culloty 5
Timmy Murphy 4
Tony Dobbin 3
Andrew Thornton 3
Robert Thornton 3


Pat Taaffe 4 (1964, 1965 and 1966 Arkle, 1968 Fort Leney)
Jim Culloty 3 (2002, 2003 and 2004 Best Mate)
Tommy Carberry 3* (1970 and 1971 L'Escargot, 1975 Ten Up)
Aubrey Brabazon 3 (1948, 1949 and 1950 Cottage Rake)
Dick Rees 3 (1924 Red Splash, 1928 Patron Saint, 1929 Easter Hero)
* In 1980, Tommy Carberry was first past the post on Tied Cottage, who was subsequently disqualified for failing a dope test. Master Smudge was then installed as the winner.

Jim Culloty is going for a fourth successive totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup win on Best Mate this year.


Tim Molony 4 (1951 Hatton's Grace, 1952, 1953 and 1954 Sir Ken)
Steve Smith Eccles 3 (1985, 1986 and 1987 See You Then)
Ron Smyth 3 (1941 Seneca, 1942 Forestation, 1948 National Spirit)
Charlie Swan 3 (1998, 1999 and 2000 Istabraq)
Jimmy Uttley 3 (1968, 1969 and 1970 Persian War)
Fred Winter 3 (1955 Clair Soleil, 1959 Fare Time, 1961 Eborneezer)


Pat Taaffe 5 (1960 and 1961 Fortria, 1964 Ben Stack, 1966 Flyingbolt, 1970 Straight Fort)
Robert Earnshaw 3 (1983, 1984 and 1985 Badsworth Boy)
Tommy Carmody 2 (1978 Hilly Way, 1986 Buck House)
Dave Dick 2 (1962 Piperton, 1965 Dunkirk)
Mouse Morris 2 (1976 and 1977 Skymas)
Frank Bonky' Nash 2 (1967 and 1968 Drinny's Double)
Bill Smith 2 (1972 and 1974 Royal Relief)


1929 Dick Rees (Champion - Royal Falcon, Gold Cup - Easter Hero)
1930 Tom Cullinan (Brown Tony/Easter Hero)
1932 Ted Leader (Insurance/Golden Miller)
1933 Bill Stott (Insurance/Golden Miller)
1935 Gerry Wilson (Lion Courage/Golden Miller)
1949 Aubrey Brabazon (Hatton's Grace/Cottage Rake)
1950 Aubrey Brabazon (Hatton's Grace/Cottage Rake)
1953 Tim Molony (Sir Ken/Knock Hard)
1961 Fred Winter (Eborneezer/Saffron Tartan)
1995 Norman Williamson (Alderbrook/Master Oats)
1997 Tony McCoy (Make A Stand/Mr Mulligan)

No jockey has ever ridden the winners of the Smurfit Champion Hurdle, Queen Mother Champion Chase and totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup at the same Festival.

For old articles (from 1st March 2000) go to the Newslink Archive

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