Harry Cobden Blog: Cheltenham Excitement and Memories


We’re less than a week away from one of the biggest weeks of the year – the Cheltenham Festival. Naturally, I’m beginning to get pretty pumped.

The book of rides I have coming up this year is super strong and I’m very lucky to be in the privileged position that I am.

Much like the rest of the racing world, Cheltenham is on everyone’s lips at Paul Nicholls’ yard. Everyone’s in good spirits and excited about our runners, especially Clan Des Obeaux in the big one, the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

It’s the highlight of the week and the race that jockeys want to win the most; so to have a live contender like Clan is a real thrill. The horse has been absolutely flying at home lately, so we’re all very hopeful.

In the lead up to Cheltenham, you think about certain races and how you would like to ride in them. But, it’s important to be flexible in the way you approach each race at the Festival because anything can happen, and things can change in an instant. There competition is absolutely fierce so it’s more important to be able adapt and find decent positions throughout your races.

Cheltenham Memories

My fondest Cheltenham memory is probably similar to many racing fans; I simply loved Kauto Star and his jockey Ruby Walsh is certainly a rider I looked up to. Their partnership was very special. I got the racing bug after watching those two run in great Gold Cup races on TV.

When I think of some of the best performances at the Cheltenham Festival, I think of Vautour and Hurricane Fly. All those great horses associated with Ruby Walsh, and Willie Mullins are the ones that stick in my mind.

Ruby is definitely someone I admired from an early age. He could do anything, he could win from the front or play the waiting game from the back.. His record at the track is unbelievable and he’s probably  the best we’ll ever see there.

One other Cheltenham memory that springs to mind is when I went to the Festival when I was 14. Watching the action live was incredible and it gave me further encouragement towards my goal of becoming a jockey, but I never thought I’d actually be riding in these big races now! It shows that anything is possible if you want it badly enough and get a bit of luck on the way!

It’s been quite a journey so far, and I’ve been fortunate to ride some really good horses.

I can remember my first festival winner on Kilbricken Storm in the 2018 Albert Bartlett was an incredible day and one I will never forget. I remember Colin Tizzard was very relaxed with me ahead of the race as Kilbricken Storm was a 33/1 shot, and he gave me the confidence to let me do what I thought was right in the race.

Equally last year’s win on Topofthegame was amazing in the RSA Chase, beating top horses like Santini and Delta Work – both of whom have excellent chances this year in the Gold Cup. I’m very sad that he missed out this season through injury as he’s super talented and I’m very hopeful he can come back from injury even better.


I can’t wait for the 2020 Festival to begin and I hope you’ll all be tuning in to what promises to be a superb four days of action. Roll on Cheltenham!