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2017 National Hunt season preview - Five top jockeys who could have successful 2017/18 jumps seasons

Lizzie Kelly steers Tea For Two over the last to win the Betway Bowl at Aintree last April.

We take a look at five top jumps jockeys who should enjoy plenty of winning success in the 2017/18 season.

Although there has been summer jumps racing throughout the year, for most fans of the National Hunt game the season proper doesn’t get underway until Chepstow’s jumps season opening fixture in October when the winter jumps game kicks in and the Road to the Cheltenham Festival starts in earnest at the Welsh venue.

While trainers will be busy plotting the routes for their potential Cheltenham Festival stars, the jockeys will travelling the length and breadth of the country in pursuit of winners, and although Richard Johnson will once again prove a hard man to catch in the Jockeys’ Champion, there could be big seasons ahead for several riders looking to make it tough for the reigning champ to hold onto his crown.

Even if they don’t manage to wrestle the crown from Johnson this season, here are five big-name jockeys who could be enjoying successful 2017/18 jumps campaigns.


The Irishman cut his teeth as Venetia Williams’ stable-jockey for several seasons until becoming number one rider for John Ferguson. However, when Ferguson retired from training to concentrate on his role with Godolphin, Coleman went freelance where he has been utilised to great effect by several top trainer, notably Jonjo O’Neill for whom the 29-year old jockey rode plenty of winners in the 2016/17 season.

The likes of Colin Tizzard, Brian Ellison, Rebecca Curtis and Charlie Longsdon all also utilised Coleman’s talents in the saddle, along with old boss Venetia Williams amongst others.

Besides Johnson, Barry Geraghty and Noel Fehily, Coleman’s place  at the top end of the jockeys table is well deserved, and another big season awaits the Cork rider who last season rode the likes of Native River, Fox Norton, Taquin Du Seuil and Third Intention to big race wins.

Aidan Coleman should enjoy another successful jumps campaign this coming season.


Brian Hughes has been no stranger to winning races, but the 2016/17 was something of a breakthrough season for the Armagh rider who enjoyed his best season to date last term with 144 wins.

Hughes has the caught the eye on many occasions, but being based in the north he perhaps hasn’t had the recognition his talents richly deserve, although it is surely only a matter of time before his services are picked up by the top southern handlers.

A strong association with top northern handler Malcolm Jefferson, as well as Sandy Thompson for whom Hughes rode Seeyouatmidnight to big-race success in the 2016 Dipper Novices’ Chase, should see the Irishman enjoy another successful season with the likes of Waiting Patiently, Cloudy Dream and Cyrus Darius amongst a host of potential stars Hughes will get the leg-up on.

Cloudy Dream is one of the potential jumping stars that could help Brian Hughes enjoy plenty of success this season in the saddle.


Daryl Jacob is a rider who needs no introduction, and the Wexford-born pilot has enjoyed plenty of notable success in recent seasons.

Stable jockey for a time to Paul Nicholls, a freak accident during the 2014 Cheltenham Festival saw him hospitalised and his position at Ditcheat given to Sam Twiston-Davies. 

It was a move that might have wrecked a career, but Jacob has responded in determined style and has since been named the retained rider for top jumps owners Simon Munir and Isaac Souede who counted the likes of Top Notch, Messire Des Obeaux, L’ami Serge, Wholestone and Bristol De Mai amongst his top horses last term, and Jacob will be aboard those high-class horses again this season.

Jacob booted home 88 winners last term from just over 400 mounts for the likes of Nicky Henderson, Alan King and Nigel Twiston-Davies amongst others, enjoying a near-£45 level stakes profit. The 2017/18 season will see Jacob team up with Ben Pauling as stable jockey, although he’ll continue his association with Munir and Souede.

The move could see Jacob team up with the likes of Neptune Hurdle winner Willoughby Court as well as the returning Barters Hill, and with horses of that calibre to ride alongside those of his retained owner Jacob could well surpass last season’s tally.

Daryl Jacob will continue his association with Simon Munir and Isaac Souede this term, but will also have first call on Ben Pauling's horses, including Neptune winner Willoughby Court.


Johns has enjoyed a long association with Tim Vaughn, rising through the ranks at Pant Wilkin Stables and turning pro in 2013. 

Johns has rarely ridden outside of his home yard, but occasionally will get the leg up on one for Tom Gretton or Dai Burchell; nevertheless, he is a very capable and stylish rider who bags his fair share of winners. 
He rode 45 winners in the 2016/17 season, and although he’s unlikely to feature at too many of the big meetings, he’ll be worth keeping onside around the smaller tracks where Vaughn usually plunders. 

Alan Johns may not have the ammo of the top riders, but he is sure to see some success again riding for Tim Vaughn.


Like Johns, Lizzie Kelly doesn’t usually showcase her talents outside of her main attachment to stepfather Nick Williams’ yard. That makes the 24-year old rider no less of a talent in the saddle, as she showed when steering Tea For Two to success over Cue Card at Aintree to win the Betway Bowl.

It was her second Grade One success, having steered the same horse to success in the 2015 Kauto Star Chase, and she has also won the Lanzarote Hurdle on Nick Williams’ charge. Further notable wins include the Betfair Hurdle and Relkeel Hurdle on Agrapart, all of which showcase her ability.

The 2016/17 season saw Kelly ride 11 winners from 112 rides, and she became the first female rider to take part in the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 33 years, although she got no further than the first fence when Tea For Two fell.

While she predominantly rides for stepfather Nick Williams, she has been used by the likes of Martin Keighley, Lisa Williamson Nick Gifford, Debra Hamer and even Noel Meade amongst others, and on the back of her latest Grade One success her stock will surely rise further this term.

Lizzie Kelly could see her stock continue to rise following another Grade One success from her limited opportunities.

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2017 National Hunt season preview - Five top jockeys who could have successful 2017/18 jumps seasons

We take a look at five top jumps jockeys who should enjoy plenty of winning success in the 2017/18 season.

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