While the jump season may be under way, the business end does not start until the turn of the year. With the Cheltenham Festival, Grand National and much more still to come, it is a very exciting time. So who or what should you be looking to back in 2015?
It will be a mission finding a bookmaker that still has this market open, but if you find one then lump your cash on the mercurial AP McCoy, who is once again out in front, leading Richard Johnson by 62 victories. Although it is still mathematically possible that McCoy won’t win a 20th consecutive Champion Jockey gong, you would think it to be nigh on impossible for him to fail now.
The biggest race in the jump calendar and the one that every jockey wants to win. Just look at McCoy. Despite all the success he has had, he would have viewed his career as somewhat of a failure had he failed to win the National, something he managed to finally achieve in 2010, whilst riding Don’t Push It.
Picking the winner for the National is hard at the best of times. Last year’s winner, Pineau De Re, with odds of 25/1 has been the shortest priced horse to win in the past three years. However, if you are willing to take a chance in the ante-post betting, you will find great value.
Right now you have Many Clouds as favourite with most bookmakers. Oliver Sherwood’s horse has won the Hennessy Gold Cup this year and has formed a very potent relationship with jockey Leighton Aspell. The 2014 Grand National winner will be hoping to make it back-to-back victories in 2015.
Besides Many Clouds, Sam Winner, Shutthefrontdoor, Balthazar King and Double Seven all offer good value.
This year has been particularly tough for Ruby Walsh. His fall at the 2014 Cheltenham Festival resulted in him fracturing his arm and ending his festival prematurely. Now, considering that Walsh is Mr. Cheltenham Festival, you can expect him to return with a vengeance next year and extend his lead at the top.
In the jockey’s 15-year career not only has won two Grand Nationals, but he has dominated the Cheltenham Festival. All in all, he has ridden an astronomical 41 winners at the Festival – seven of which came in the 2009 meet. Quite frankly, that is ridiculous. Nobody does Cheltenham quite like Ruby and if it wasn't for that injury last season his number would be much closer to the 45 mark. Put simply, Walsh is the man to back when it comes to Cheltenham.
As for horses, in the Gold Cup ante-post betting old stalwart Bobs Worth is nicely favoured, but the current number one pick is Paul Nicholls’ Silviniaco Conti, whilst Champagne Fever is also up towards the top of the pecking order.
Top National Hunt Trainer
The impeccable Paul Nicholls is where the money is at right now. Although he is not currently leading the way with winning horses, it seems that by the end of the season he will. The reason: he has an abundance of top-quality horses, most of which are the favourites for the big meets that litter the first half of next year. Nicholls, who already has eight awards, will be fully expecting a ninth Champion Trainer award to adorn his mantelpiece.
As ever, Nicky Henderson will be the man to try and thwart his rival. He currently has just two more winners than Nicholls, which is a precarious lead, but he also has a stable brimming with talent.
Jonjo O’Neill has an outside chance, but when you have AP McCoy as one of your retained jockeys you do have to fancy your chances.