Jump jockeys are amongst the toughest sportsmen and sportswomen in the world, let alone just the horse racing world, risking, with every race serious injury or even worse. The best jump jockeys are those who can combine their courage, with top class horseman skills, race awareness, and knowledge of their mounts. Like every sport there are those who like the cream in milk, rise to the very top and we spotlight three of them here.
Regarded by most horse racing tipsters as the greatest jump jockey ever, Tony McCoy rode his first winner at Thurles in March 1992. His Success in Ireland soon led to a move across the pond to England in 1994 and he has not stopped breaking records eversince. McCoyâ€™s first win in England came at Exeter in September1994. He got off to incredible start by claiming a record 74 winners in his first season, thus winning the conditional jockey championship, in his first season.
Since then, he has gone from strength to strength. The following season he won the champion jockey title, a feat that he has repeated in each of the twelve following seasons. During that run he has also set a new National Hunt record for winners in a season of 253 winners and he has also become the fastest jockey to reach the 1000 winner mark. McCoy then beat Sir Gordon Richards record for winners in a season for all types of racing in 2002, by riding 269. His only disappointment so far in his illustrious career is not having won the Grand National but he has plenty of seasons left to achieve this goal.
Born into a racing family, Ruby Walsh showed great natural talent from an early age, which he underlined by winning the Irish amateur title twice in 1996 and 1997, before he turned professional. Just three years later he won the Aintree Grand National at his first attempt, aged just 20, on Papillon, a horse trained by his father, Ted Walsh. The two then went on to train and ride the winner of the Irish Grand National with Commanche Court the same year WaIsh immediately became one of the most sought after jockeys in the jumps world and has since gone on to win the Grand National again on Hedgehunter in 2005.
That same year Walsh won two of the other three Nationals, the Irish on the 2006 Grand National winner, Numbersixvalverde and the Welsh on subsequent 2007 Grand National winner Silver Birch. Amazingly he was only a short head away from winning all four as he was beaten into second place in the Scottish Grand National. However, his earlier success in that race on Take Control in 2002 makes him the only jockey currently riding to have won all four Nationals. Ruby moved to England in 2007 to ride for Champion trainer Paul Nicholls To date Walsh has ridden over fourteen hundred winners including seventeen winners at the Cheltenham Festival, including the Cheltenham Gold Cup and the Queen Mother Chase.
Irish jockey, Barry Geraghty rode his first winner in Ireland in January 1997, three years later he became the Irish Champion jump jockey for the first time. He won the Aintree Grand National in 2003 on Montyâ€™s Pass. Also that year he won five races at the Cheltenham Festival including the Queen Mother Champion Chase on the brilliant Moscow Flyer, he repeated that win in the 2005 Cheltenham Festival, but also won the Cheltenham Gold Cup on Kicking King for trainer Tom Taaffe. He has won a total of thirteen winners at the Cheltenham Festival. In 2008, Geraghty became the lead jockey for the highly successful Nicky Henderson yard in the UK.