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  • Harry Cobden’S Planet Sport Blog: Champion Jockey Season Review

Harry Cobden’s Planet Sport blog: Champion Jockey season review

Planet Sport ambassador and Champion Jockey Harry Cobden reflects on a remarkable National Hunt campaign.

It’s been a fantastic year for me in the saddle. I was delighted to become Champion Jockey and it’s a testament to Paul Nicholls, my agent Sam Stronge and all the different connections I’ve ridden for this season.

We all enjoyed a cracking day at Sandown on Saturday, and now, looking back, there’ve been some fantastic days and some brilliant horses I’ve had the pleasure of riding.

Starting the season in style

The first big winner of the term was probably Born Famous in the Summer Plate at Market Rasen.

It wasn’t a ride I was expecting to pick up, so all credit goes to Sam [Stronge] for the link-up with Iain Jardine.

It certainly didn’t look like we had any chance in the early stages, so to win from there was brilliant and it was a nice one to get on the board early in the season. 

Paul [Nicholls] didn’t have loads of horses for me to ride during the summer, but when Chepstow rolled around in October I knew his team was going to be raring to go.

Captain Teague was one of the first out, and it was great to land the Persian War with him.

His season went from strength to strength, highlighted by winning the Grade 1 Challow Hurdle at Newbury in late December, which was a massive win for team Ditcheat.

All our horses improve massively for going chasing, and we’re hopeful that’ll be the case with this lad as a novice next season.

Kicking into gear over the winter

Rubaud and Harry Cobden

November was a strong month as the season kicked into gear. Knappers Hill and Rubaud provided me and the Nicholls camp with a lovely double on Badger Beers day at Wincanton in early November, which is always nice to do as it’s our local track.

Then up at Cheltenham Burdett Road was seriously impressive for James Owen and the Gredleys.

It was a huge shame that he picked up an injury which kept him out of the Triumph, but if he steps up next season, he could be a Champion Hurdle type. 

On that same day at Cheltenham, I was made-up for the Owners Group when Stage Star won the Paddy Power.

It was a very brave performance, jumping from fence to fence, and barring a juddering mistake at the last, we got the race in the bag for a fantastic group of owners.

Pic D’Orhy and Blueking D’Oroux gave me another big Saturday later in the month at Ascot in the 1965 Chase and Ascot Hurdle.

I was gutted to be missing Bravemansgame up at Haydock, but thankfully it worked out well as I came home from Berkshire with a four-timer.

Pic D’Orhy has been a once-in-a-lifetime horse for me and the team, and it was awesome to take him back to Ascot to win the Grade 1 Ascot Chase in February for another day in the sun.

Hermes Allen

Hermes Allen

Hermes Allen was a horse we had very high hopes for this season as a Grade 1-winning novice hurdler, and he was sensational at Newbury on his chase debut.

He ran with a lot of credit behind the French machine Il Est Francais in the Kauto Star on his next start, and we were absolutely gutted to lose him in the Scilly Isles.

He was the most fantastic horse, and we certainly miss him a lot. We never saw the best of him.

Warming up for Cheltenham

Cheltenham Festival Trials Day was soon around the corner, and I was delighted to ride another Saturday big race double with Noble Yeats and Ginny’s Destiny.

Not many horses pull off a Cheltenham hat-trick in a season, so it was a joy to ride him as he climbed the ranks. He’s so versatile, he could even be a King George horse come Boxing Day.

We’re really looking forward to him for next term. Noble Yeats was an unbelievable spare to pick up for Emmet Mullins in the Cleeve.

It was great to ride him on a going day and I was hugely thankfully for Emmet and the Waley-Cohen family for putting me on.

As Cheltenham approached, I was impressed by Kalif Du Berlais’ win in the Adonis at Kempton.

He showed a really tough attitude that day, and I probably didn’t give him the best ride next time out in the Grade 1 at Aintree behind Sir Gino.

I presume the plan will be to send him straight novice chasing next season, but he does have an interesting mark over hurdles, so keep an eye out for him once the season kicks off in earnest.

Monmiral at Cheltenham

I was made to wait until the Thursday of the Cheltenham Festival for a winner at the meeting when Monmiral landed the Pertemps. 

To be honest, I thought he had no chance when I went out to the start on him! Credit goes to Paul for a fantastic training performance, as he’s a hard horse to get right.

I was absolutely delighted to get a winner at the Festival on a wonderful little horse, especially for his owners Sir Alex Ferguson, Ged Mason and John Hales.

The Jockeys’ Championship race

Once Cheltenham was over, it was all about getting over the line in the Jockeys’ Championship.

There were times during the season when winning the title looked an impossible task – Sean Bowen was 49 winners ahead of me in early October!

I was elated to get the job done when Spring Gale provided me with the winner I needed at Chepstow last week.

I was hugely relieved but also very proud of the achievement. I’ve been incredibly lucky to have so many opportunities all the way through the season.

As I said, credit must go to Sam Stronge who did a brilliant job as my agent and I’m very thankful to Paul [Nicholls] and all the other trainers who put me up throughout the campaign.

I haven’t decided if I’ll go for the Championship again next season. I’ll have a really good go through May and try and get as many winners on the board as possible.

If we’re not too far off the pace going into October, I think we’ll give it a go again but otherwise, we’ll just tip along nicely.


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