If Willie Mullins is going to train all the winners, he needs someone to ride them. The Cheltenham festival of 2020 will be strange to many due to the absence of Ruby Walsh, who announced his retirement in April, ending his time as Mullins’ number one jockey.
With Walsh gone, Paul Townend has stepped up to the plate, and with Sky Bet making Mullins a short-priced favourite, they also install Townend as a 2/1 favourite for the top jockey at Cheltenham Festival.
As mentioned, Benie Des Dieux is odds on for day one success and is one of Townend’s best chances of a winner on the week. The Irish jockey won’t have all of Mullins’ top rides, however, as Patrick Mullins and Danny Mullins are getting opportunities. However, Townend will be hoping he can cash in amongst the big Grade One’s.
For many, Mullins and Townend will be good enough or some may even look at Gordon Elliot, who is 9/4 with Sky Bet. Elliot's jockey, Davy Russell, is 10/3 to be crowned top jockey, however, there could be some value to be had below the market. Henry De Bromhead goes to the Cheltenham Festival this year with his strongest ever team and with his jockey Rachael Blackmore, the pair could be in for a good week.
Sky Bet make De Bromhead 10/1 to be top trainer, whilst punters can get 6/1 about Blackmore to ride the most winners. The pair enjoyed some success last year with Minella Indo winning the Albert Bartlett and A Plus Tard winning the Close Brothers handicap.
The two will be hoping they can be successful again, with A Plus Tard favourite for the Ryanair, whilst Minella Indo looks sure to go close in the RSA Chase. Along with them two, stable star Honeysuckle will tackle Benie Des Dieux in the Mares Hurdle, the pair have Arkle Chase favourite Notebook and Aspire Tower, who goes to the Triumph Hurdle with a live chance.