Harry Cobden wins first Champion Jump Jockey Title

Features | 26th April 2024

Harry Cobden will join an illustrious club when he is crowned Champion Jump Jockey for the first time this weekend.

Harry Cobden will become only the eighth rider to claim the Jump Jockeys’ title in the last 40 years when he is officially handed the prestigious title at Sandown’s Finale meeting on Saturday.

The 25-year-old will join legends of the saddle like John Francome, Peter Scudamore, Richard Dunwoody and Sir AP McCoy, on the roll of honour. More recently, Richard Johnson, Harry Skelton and reigning champ Brian Hughes have all lifted the coveted trophy.

Jump Jockeys' Championship Stndings

Adding his name to such an impressive list looked fairly unlikely at Christmas. Harry was struggling to claw back Sean Bowen’s lead when his title rival suffered a fall at Aintree on Boxing Day.

It forced Sean to watch from the sidelines for five weeks. By the time he returned in early February, Harry had the momentum to take him into the lead.

Injury is an occupational hazard for a jump jockey and it’s one Harry knows all about.

Just a month after becoming stable jockey to Paul Nicholls in the summer of 2018, he broke his neck in a fall at Market Rasen.

That wasn’t his first taste of high-speed misfortune. As a child growing up on his parent’s beef cattle farm, he took his dad’s quad bike, promptly crashed it and ended up in hospital with more than 300 stitches.

Harry Cobden
Harry Cobden lifting the Champion Conditional Trophy in 2016


His ability in the saddle on a horse was always more refined. He was riding out for family friend Ron Hodges at his Somerset racing stables before he even hit his teenage years.

His association with Nicholls goes back nearly as far. Harry grew up in a village just a few miles from Ditcheat and he was soon riding out at the yard that was to become his base as a conditional jockey some years later. That came after honing his talents pony racing and a spell with Anthony Honeyball on leaving school.

It was already clear where his future lay. Much to his mum’s despair, he even skipped his GCSE English exam to ride El Mondo to a 33-1 victory in a Leicester hunter chase.

The lack of qualifications wasn’t a barrier to further education in his chosen career path. As a 16-year-old he accepted an offer to join Nicholls’ academy as conditional jockey and he was soon rewarding his faith with big-race wins.

His first significant victory came on Old Guard in the 2015 Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham. Almost exactly a year later he landed his first Grade 1 win when driving Irving to a narrow success over top mare Apple’s Jade in Newcastle’s Fighting Fifth Hurdle.


The same year, he was Champion Conditional Jockey and he soon had a big decision to make.

Regular supporter Colin Tizzard offered him the job as stable jockey with Nicholls following suit three days later.

Since joining the 14-times champion trainer, he has added more than 20 Grade 1 prizes to his tally. Two have come this season with Captain Teague’s Challow Hurdle success and Pic D’Orhy’s victory in the Ascot Chase.

His first Champion Jockey’s title has been down to, in no small measure, Bowen’s unfortunate injury but Harry dominated the winter.  He has ridden more winners than his rival each month since September.

Despite his young age, he still has more than an eye on the future. He ploughs much of his earnings into a farm and country pursuits business he first set up with the winnings of his Champion Conditional Jockey’s title campaign.

For now, he’s clearly intent on farming the biggest prizes in jump racing. He’s doing a champion job at that, too, no doubt.