Harry Cobden Closes Gap to Set Up Thrilling Jockeys’ Championship

After getting off to a flying start to 2024, Harry Cobden has closed the gap on leader Sean Bowen in the 2023/24 Jockeys’ Championship to set up what could be a thrilling finish to the Jumps season.

Cobden, a jockey who is no stranger to riding winners at Stratford, trailed Bowen by 42 at one point this season, but the two riders are now level-pegging at 121 each after yesterday’s racing at Exeter.

Cobden has support of Champion Nicholls

The leading trainer Cobden rides for in the sport is reigning Champion Trainer Paul Nicholls. Cobden is set to partner some of Nicholls’ leading hopes at the Cheltenham Festival, including Stage Star, who is 11/2 in today’s horse racing betting for the 2024 Ryanair Chase.

The biggest race of the week at the Cheltenham Festival is the Cheltenham Gold Cup on day four of the meeting, and Cobden will be on board Bravemansgame for Nicholls. The number one Ditcheat rider was runner-up in the race in 2023 on the same horse as they chased home Galopin Des Champs. Those two chasers are set to renew their rivalry in the Blue Riband event.

Cobden has already ridden 18 Grade One winners in his career, but he has yet to become Champion Jockey. In what now looks to be a two-way battle for the title, he will be desperate to get as many extra rides as possible until the campaign concludes in April.

Whatever happens this season, Cobden is on course for his best-ever tally for a season. His previous best came in the 2020/21 campaign when he rode 123 winners. He was third in the Jockeys’ Championship that year behind Harry Skelton and Brian Hughes respectively.

Injury kept Bowen out for 6 weeks

The early pace in this year’s Jockeys’ Championship was set by Bowen. He rode lots of winners through the summer months, including several victories at Stratford. The Welsh rider was the first to reach 100 winners, a milestone he hit in November with the assistance of trainer father Peter.

Unfortunately for Bowen, his title dreams were almost derailed on Boxing Day at Aintree as a fall put him out of action for six weeks. He has had to work hard on his rehabilitation in early 2024 to get himself back in the saddle.

Bowen made his return to action on February 8th at Huntingdon where he almost made a winning return. He had to settle for second place on board Roccovango, who was beaten by just a neck.

Like Cobden, Bowen also has the support of a major trainer as he predominantly rides for Olly Murphy as well as his father. The Jockeys’ Championship leader will be hoping that partnership can work well over the final few months of the campaign to give him the winners he needs for a maiden title.

The final Jumps meeting on the 2023/24 UK calendar comes at Sandown on Saturday, April 27th. The Esher-based racecourse will host a seven-race card which includes the Celebration Chase.

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