The Hunt Is On!

National Hunt racing season

With a month to go to the end of the National Hunt racing season which ends 27 April, Harry Cobden leads Sean Bowen by twelve.

Harry Cobden, the number one rider for champion trainer Paul Nicholls, currently has 149 race victories compared to Sean Bowen on 137.

Frankie Fever! Gosden stable’s #1 rider Frankie Dettori blows a kiss to fans at home (Pic – Chase Liebenberg)

Defending champion, and three-time champion jumps jockey, Brian Hughes is in third position with 107.

The trainer’s title is a much tighter affair with Dan Skelton just edging his former boss and defending champion Paul Nicholls by £56,000. The Skelton yard is currently on £2,564,000, whilst Nicholls has earned £2,508,000 for his owners.

Irish supremo Willie Mullins is incredibly in third with £1,915,000 thanks to his Group 1 successes at the Cheltenham Festival. A Mullins victory in the £1 million Randox Grand National on 13 April would make this title race very interesting.

In Ireland, Willie Mullins has wrapped up an 18th Irish NH Trainer’s title. Traditionally the National Hunt Season finishes on the final day of the Punchestown Festival in early May where the leading jockeys, trainers and owners are crowned champions.

Willie Mullins leads Gordon Elliott by €1.3 million with a little over 5 weeks to the end of season. 231 victories from 694 runners (a seasonal winner rate of 33%) is phenomenal when one considers that in many races, he ran more than one horse.

The Irish ‘jumps’ jockey title looks a real battle between Jack Kennedy, currently on 115 wins and Paul Townend who has 108 victories this season.

Kennedy was well clear in the first half of the season but is being reeled in by the defending champ. Townend’s 108 wins have come from only 262 rides, mainly from his boss Willie Mullins, at a seasonal strike rate of 41%!

Staying on the jockey front, it looks like Kieran Shoemark is in line to be retained by Clarehaven stables.

Frankie Dettori’s decision to relocate to the States has seemingly presented Shoemark with a huge opportunity to be the Gosden stable’s number one rider.

The UK Jockey championship only starts in May, but Shoemark is carded to ride last season’s Coronation Cup heroine Emily Upjohn at Meydan on Saturday in the Dubai Sheema Classic.

Shoemark deputised for a suspended Dettori aboard Oaks winner Soul Sister in the Grand Prix de Paris and then picked up a prize spare ride on Gregory in the St Leger.

If Shoemark is indeed number one for the Gosdens, then it represents a remarkable rise for a rider whose highest position in the jockeys’ championship was 16th in 2021.

Arguably only the number one role for Godolphin is a bigger job for a jockey based in Britain so this is the chance of a lifetime.

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