How many winners does it take to win the Leading Jockey Award at the Cheltenham Festival?
At the Cheltenham Festival, the Leading Jockey Award, sponsored in recent years by Cotswold designer Jade Holland Cooper, is presented to the jockey who rides the most winners over the four days, counting back to placed horses in the event of a tie. Obviously, the number of winners required to win the Leading Jockey Award varies from year to year according to the number of different jockeys who ride winners at the Festival.
Indeed, way back in 1982, Jonjo O’Neill became leading jockey with just a single winner, while the likes of Peter Scudamore and Richard Dunwoody won the Leading Jockey Award, more than once, in the Eighties and Nineties with just two winners on each occasion. However, since 2005, when the Festival was extended to four days from three, jockeys have needed at least three winners, and often more, to win the Leading Jockey Award. In fact, Rupert ‘Ruby’ Walsh rode seven winners at the Festival in both 2009 and 2016, while Paul Townend, his successor as stable jockey to Willie Mullins, won the Leading Jockey Award with five winners. Over the course of the last 16 Festivals, the average number of winners need to win the Leading Jockey Award was approximately four.