Harry Cobden was announced as stable jockey to Paul Nicholls at Manor Farm Stables in Ditcheat, Somerset in May, 2018, immediately prior to the start of the 2018/19 National Hunt season. Cobden succeeded Sam Twiston-Davies, who had replaced the previous incumbent, Daryl Jacob, four years earlier, but chose to go freelance in the face of increased competition for rides from the likes of Cobden, Bryony Frost and Sean Bowen.
A graduate from pony racing, Cobden was encouraged to pursue a career as a jockey by local trainer Ron Hodges, for whom he began riding out at the age of just nine. Cobden left school, at the age of 16, in 2014 and spent seven months working for Dorset trainer Anthony Honeyball before being offered the position of conditional jockey at Nicholls’ yard. In his first season at Manor Farm, 2015/16, Cobden rode 30 winners but, in 2016/17, increased his winning seasonal tally to 63 winners; he rode out his claim in early February, 2017 and subsequently won the conditional jockeys’ championship by a wide margin. With continued support from Nicholls and fellow West Country trainer Colin Tizzard, Cobden has pressed on with his career, riding 76, 109 and 83 winners in 2017/18, 2018/19 and 2019/20, respectively. His meteoric rise to the top of his profession has already included seven Grade One winners and he looks to have a bright future.
One of the best things about being a horse racing fan is that there are many events and races to get excited about every year. Horse racing festivals usually remain a big calendar event each year for fans and require a lot of preparation and excitement in the lead-up. Some of the various 2021 horse racing events in the UK consist of the Cheltenham Festival, The Grand National, the Epsom Derby Festival and the Guineas Festival. All of these are a staple for horse racing fans and bring people from all over the world together to tune in to watch the races. Keep reading to find out a bit more about them.
One of the more famous horse racing events situated in the UK is that of the Cheltenham Festival. Taking place in March 2021, the grand festival prize is the Gold Cup – worth £625,000. This festival tends to be the highlight within the horse racing community and becomes the epicentre for fans to enjoy the sport each year. It takes place in Cheltenham in the Cotswolds in England and lasts for four consecutive days. The festival consists of some of the world-class jumpers and chasers, allowing it to reap millions of spectators either sitting at home or in the crowds.
The Grand National
Taking place in Aintree, Liverpool, from 8-10 April 2021, The Grand National serves as one of the world’s most infamous horse racing events. Online casino sites and other betting and sports betting services become very popular at the time of this event taking place as horse racing fans seek to place their bets on their favourite horses. The Grand National is known as one of the more luxurious horse racing events to exist in the UK, primarily because of its prize fund. The winner of the Grand National is expected to win £1m at the end of the three-day event. It is considered one of the more difficult races, but this makes it all the more exciting for punters!
Epsom Derby Festival
At the Epsom Derby Festival (located in Epsom, Surrey, in June 2021), there are two different prizes – The Oaks and The Derby – made up of different winning amounts. The Oaks prize money sits at £500k and The Derby sits at £1.5m. The prizes of the Epsom Derby Festival are what makes the festival one of the most elite horse racing festivals in existence. Experts note that those who are successful in the races have reached the peak of their career and horse racing as a whole.
The Guineas Festival
The Guineas Festival (Newmarket, Suffolk) taking place in May this year serves as the embodiment for infamous horse racing fixtures for the whole world; they tend to be imitated in various events because of their prestige and popularity. What’s great about The Guineas Festival is that the races can be ultimately career-defining for the jockey, horse and trainer, making the festival a strong staple in horse racing careers.
What event will you tune into?
John Patrick McManus, almost invariably known in racing circles as ‘J.P.’, is an Irish billionaire, best known as the largest owner in National Hunt racing. At the last count, McManus had over 550 horses in training; in the 2019/20 National Hunt season, his familiar green and gold colours – ‘borrowed’ from his home Gaelic Athletic Association club, South Liberties – were carried to victory 79 times, earning £2.14 million in prize money and making him Champion Jumps Owner in Britain by £1.39 million.
His biggest single earner in 2019/20 was Epatante, trained by Nicky Henderson, who collected £79,467 for winning the Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. Indeed, McManus is the leading owner in the history of the two-mile hurdling championship with nine winners, including the last four – namely Buveur D’Air in 2017 and 2018, Espoir d’Allen in 2019 and Epatante in 2020 – and a notable hat-trick by Istabraq in 1998, 1999 and 2000.
In fact, McManus is, far and away, the leading owner in the history of the Cheltenham Festival as a whole, with 66 winners. Of the main ‘championship’ races, aside from the Champion Hurdle, he has won the Stayers’ Hurdle three times, with Baracouda in 2002 and 2003 and More Of That in 2014, and the Cheltenham Gold Cup once, with Synchronised in 2012. He also famously won the Grand National with Don’t Push It – the one and only winner of the celebrated steeplechase for Tony McCoy – in 2010.
The Finesse Juvenile Novices’ Hurdle also known, for sponsorship purposes, as the JCB Triumph Trial Juvenile Hurdle, is a Grade Two contest, run over 2 miles and 179 yards on the New Course at Cheltenham and restricted to four-year-old novice hurdlers. The race is staged annually, in January and, as the name suggests, is intended to serve as a preparatory race for the Grade One JCB Triumph Hurdle, run over the same course and distance, at the Cheltenham Festival the following March. That said, since the inception of the Finesse Juvenile Novices’ Hurdle, in 1985, just two horses have won both races. Indeed, Katchit, who did so in 2007, went on to win the Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival the following year.
A decade later, Defi Du Seuil, owned by John McManus and trained by Philip Hobbs, was sent off 1/5 favourite to beat three rivals in the JCB Triumph Trial Juvenile Hurdle and did so in taking style. Always travelling strongly under jockey Barry Geraghty, the Voix Du Nord gelding went clear in the closing stages to easily beat Rainbow Dreamer by 9 lengths. Consequently, Defi Du Seuil again started favourite, at 5/2, for the JCB Triumph Hurdle and duly obliged once again. With reigning champion jockey Richard Johnson deputising for the injured Geraghty, Defi Du Seuil led between the last two flights and stayed on strongly to beat Mega Fortine by 5 lengths.