The Grand National, one of the most iconic horse racing events in the world, is just around the corner. And while the horses themselves often steal the limelight, there is another crucial element to this race that cannot be overlooked: the jockeys. Few would have expected Noble Yeats to steal the show as a 50/1 outsider last year, but the work of the Waley-Cohens proved dividends, and that is clear for those making a Grand National bet this year.
Indeed, winning successive editions of the National is to cement a horse in Aintree folklore. For over 180 years, the Grand National has been the ultimate test of a jockey’s skill, courage, and endurance, and this year’s race promises to be no exception. There will be several jockeys looking to cross the finishing line first but they must guide their mount over the gruelling four-and-a-half-mile course, navigating 30 jumps and some of the toughest terrain in National Hunt racing.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the jockeys to keep an eye on in this year’s Grand National. Will we see another Noble Yeats victory or will a new champion and jockey reign supreme? Read on to find out more.
Rachael Blackmore has already established herself as one of the best female jockeys of all time and is no stranger to success at Aintree. The Queen of Prestbury Park added another jewel to her crown in the 2021 Grand National when she picked up the victory for Henry de Bromehad aboard Minella Times. The horses has been retired since then after multiple injury setbacks, with the Irishwoman now aboard another member of the extremely talented County Waterford stable. Will she join an exclusive list of multiple National winning jockeys?
After Sam Waley-Cohe announced his retirement from the saddle, last year’s Grand National winner needed a new jockey. Noble Yeats was a 50/1 outsider when Emmet Mullins and co. upset the odds by pipping Any Second Now and Delta Work to the finishing line. Sean Bowen has been the man to replace Waley-Cohen and after securing victory at Aintree in December’s Many Clouds Chase, the two have already built a rapport.
Noble Yeats is now one of the favourites for this year’s race alongside Lucinda Russell-trained Corach Rambler, and it will be interesting to see if Bowen can get the job done.
One of the brightest up and comers in the world of National Hunt racing, it’s hard to believe Jack Kennedy will still only be 23 years old when the Grand National commences on April 15. The jockey has been around the block despite his age, racing five times at Aintree including two third-place finishes in 2018 and 2022 respectively. After being ruled out of the Cheltenham Festival with a broken leg, Davy Russell could be the man to come in and replace him for the National, having won the race before aboard Tiger Roll. However, Kennedy could mark his return with an emphatic victory and it would be a great story if he returns to full fitness in time.
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