Quite simply the Jump Jockeys’ Championship hasn’t been as open in over a quarter of a century.
The last 25 seasons have seen just three different Champion Jump jockeys; Sir AP McCoy (20), Richard Johnson (4) and Brian Hughes (1) the only men to have claimed the coveted crown.
Unlike in years gone by there is no overwhelming favourite to claim this year’s title. We profile three riders at the head of the table and a number in the chasing pack who could have the necessary firepower and staying power to etch their name into racing history.
Formerly the Champion Conditional in 2007/08, Brian Hughes has been a beacon of consistency in recent seasons; particularly across Northern racecourses at which he’s been the top rider for the bulk of the last decade. Last season saw Hughes hit new heights as he managed to knock four-time Champion jockey Richard Johnson from his perch at the top of the Jump jockey pyramid.
Last year’s Champion Jockey has begun this year in the same vein that he finished the last, winning with relentless regularity. He currently leads the table with 56 winners.
If there is a man who could well challenge Brian it is Paul Nicholls retained rider Harry Cobden. The 22-year-old will have a huge amount of ammunition to fire as Paul Nicholls unleashes his stable of hotshots to racecourses around Britain this winter.
Nicholls has himself already admitted to having a small bet on his stable jockey to win the Championship at 33/1!
Whilst Cobden will largely turn out on horses trained by the 11-time Champion trainer he will also looking to allies such as Gold Cup winning trainer Colin Tizzard who has continued to trust him with a number of promising horses from his stable.
Whilst Brian Hughes got off to a lightning start early this year, Harry has continued to eat up the deficit and now sits just a few off his rivals on 52 winners.
If there is one person you can never rule out of a Championship race it’s this man. For so long he had to settle for a second place finish behind the legendary Sir AP McCoy but following the Irishman’s retirement, the man affectionately known as ‘Dicky’ took full advantage of the vacant space at the top as he won the title for four straight years from 2016 to 2019.
Over last year’s campaign he put up similar numbers, with himself and Brian tied at the top of the Championship at the start of this year. However, a serious injury in January ruled him out for a couple of months and allowed Hughes to pull clear and win his maiden Championship.
Can he grab a 5th title for the mantlepiece? He currently sit’s 7th in table, with 33 winners this term but he continues to rack up a huge number of rides. This title can ultimately develop into a numbers game and the sheer volume of rides he will get will likely pull him up the table as time goes on.
Brother to top trainer Dan Skelton, Harry has made a name for himself at the very top of the game. Not only has he had some special victories over the course of the last few years, but he has also found himself consistently placed in the top 5 of the Jump Jockeys’ Championship.
Though he has a fair bit of ground to make up on Hughes and Cobden, the son of dual Olympic gold medallist Nick Skelton will be sure to have a strong supply of rides coming from brother Dan all year.
It’s highly conceivable that serial Cheltenham Festival winner could get on a hot streak and make up the ground.
39-year-old Paddy Brennan has been a model of consistency ever since he landed the Champion Conditional gong in 2004/05.
The Cheltenham Gold Cup winning jockey has notched 41 winners so far this campaign and will no doubt be pushing his weighing room colleagues all the way.
One of the most well-known jockeys in the weighing room, Sam Twiston-Davies would be a very popular winner of the title. The 28-year-old has had great success throughout his career with a number of memorable Grade 1 winners.
His links with Paul Nicholls and his father Nigel means he certainly wont be lacking in fire power. Furthemore, as he gets his second campaign as a freelance jockey going he will be sure to pick up a number of good rides from a whole host of other trainers around the country.
*Jump Jockeys’ Championship stats correct as of 09:00 on 18/11/2020