There are few jockeys held in respect by their peers quite like Ruby Walsh. The Irish rider has been through it all, winning every big race through the years on favourites and long-shots alike. Cheltenham is his speciality, though, demonstrated by the fact that he has ridden an incredible 56 winners there during his career.
Walsh broke his leg back in November, but he’s expected to make his comeback soon, certainly in time for the 2018 Cheltenham Festival, where he’ll undoubtedly add to those 56 winners. However, where do his best chances lie? Will he break the 60 winners mark? Some of the mercurial jockey’s best hopes are discussed below. Things can change very quickly in the run-up to the Festival, so keep an eye on the Cheltenham Festival 2018 betting: The latest free bets and tips to get the whole picture.
Walsh has big chance to get on the board in very first race
The very first race of the Cheltenham Festival – the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle – looks to be one of Walsh’s big opportunities to reach number 57 on the all-time winners’ list. He’s expected to ride Getabird – currently available at 5/2 with William Hill – an unbeaten six-year-old trained by Willie Mullins. The Supreme Novices’ Hurdle is never short of quality runners, however, having been won in the past by star-turns like L’Escargot and Douvan. Mengli Kahn and If The Cap Fits could certainly mount a challenge this year, but Walsh has won the race five times before and Getabird could easily deliver number six.
Footpad primed for Arkle Challenge Trophy
Riding Footpad in The Arkle Chase, which also takes place on the first day of the Festival, is arguably Walsh’s best chance of a Cheltenham winner. Footpad is currently priced by Ladbrokes as even money favourite, but he can be found at odds-on with other bookmakers. He’s a horse who has thrived since switching from hurdles to chasing, winning three in a row since making the change.
Min looks like maximum value for Queen Mother Champion Chase
The only blot on Min’s race record since 2016 is a second place, which came only after being demoted due to a stewards’ enquiry in Leopardstown in December. Apart from that, Min has been imperious, including winning the Dublin Chase with ease in February ahead of last year’s Champion Chase winner Special Tiara. Min is priced at 3/1 by William Hill, second-favourite behind the well-fancied Altior. The latter has some injury concerns, however, so don’t be surprised to see Walsh and the brilliant Min capitalise.
Chance for Walsh to win a third Gold Cup
Ruby Walsh twice rode the legendary Kauto Star to victory in the Cheltenham Gold Cup. While Killutagh Vic, – Walsh’s expected ride for the race – isn’t really in the same league, he nonetheless represents a solid chance for Walsh to finish off Cheltenham 2018 in style. At 16/1, he offers a huge bit of value too. Might Bite and Sizing John are worthy favourites, so this might take all Walsh’s craft and guile to pull it off. Don’t be surprised if he does, though.