Cheltenham Festival 2021 tips – Jack Kennedy’s top Festival winning chances
Jack Kennedy Cheltenham Festial winning fancies
One of the top jockeys in Ireland Jack Kennedyhad an enviable book of big race rides come the ‘greatest show on turf’ through with his affiliation with the powerful Gordon Elliott stable and Gigginstown House Stud. We look over five possible Jack Kennedy Cheltenham Festival rides that could hold solid claims of delivering big-race success.
Jack Kennedy is one of the top riders in Ireland, often getting the leg up on one of Gordon Elliott’s powerful team of horses and often sporting the famous maroon and white colours of Gigginstown House Stud for whom Kennedy has ridden plenty of big race winners.
The job is something of a poisoned chalice however and much like his predecessor Bryan Cooper the rider has had his fair share of injuries and missed out on last season’s Cheltenham Festival having broken his leg just a few weeks before in a fall at Leopardstown.
Given the recent scandal surrounding Gordon Elliott and the decision by top owner Cheveley Park Stud to remove its’ horses from Elliott’s Cullentra yard it may mean changes to Kennedy’s riding plans with top prospects Envoi Allen, Quilixios and Ballyadam all moving to Henry De Bromhead which may see Rachael Blackmore taking over the rides on those horses; while Sir Gerhard moves to Willie Mullins and could be a plum ride for someone to pick up with Paul Townend likely to be on Appreciate It.
That aside, all being well this time around Kennedy will be back at Prestbury Park where he’ll be hopeful of making the winners’ enclosure and if Cheveley Park keep Kennedy in the saddle on their horses then it it wouldn’t be any surprise to see him led back into the winners’ arena.
We’ve picked out five possible Jack Kennedy Cheltenham Festival rides which look to hold solid claims of delivering some big-race success for the rider assuming he keeps the ride on them in the wake of some stable movements.
2021 CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL TIPS – JACK KENNEDY TOP FESTIVAL WINNING CHANCES
Supreme Novices Hurdle
Kennedy could well get in the winners’ enclosure in the first race on day one of the Cheltenham Festival, the curtain-raising Supreme Novices’ Hurdle where he could partner BALLYADAM for new trainer Henry De Bromhead and while the Fame And Glory gelding has been beaten the last twice behind reopposing Appreciate It it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him turning the tables.
A dual-winner over hurdles earlier in the campaign which included victory in the Grade One Royal Bond Hurdle he was disappointing at Leopardstown over Christmas behind Willie Mullins’ ante-post favourite where he trailed in fourth although the yard was under a bit of a cloud at that time. He ran better against the same rival back at Leopardstown in the Chanelle Pharma Hurdle where he finished runner-up although still beaten around three lengths.
A stronger pace and stiffer track here could both be positive factors as he bids to overturn those pieces of form and while he does need to find some improvement against the Mullins horse he might well prove up to the task and he can certainly get involved.
Of course it remains to be seen whether the switch in yard will see Kennedy lose the ride to Rachael Blackmore, the stable jockey to Henry De Bromhead, but at such a late stage it might be that Cheveley Park decide to keep Kennedy in the saddle given his familiarity with the gelding.
ABACADABRAS was one of the leading novices in Ireland last season having finished fourth in the Champion Bumper behind Envoi Allen and switched to hurdles he won three of his five starts with only that rival and Shishkin latterly lowering his colours.
That defeat behind Shishkin came in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle where he was only beaten a head with the two clear of the remainder. Things however haven’t gone to plan for him this campaign with just one win in four, beating Saint Roi at Punchestown in the Morgiana Hurdle but disappointing subsequently behind Sharjah in the Matheson Hurdle.
He ran better in defeat when second only to Honeysuckle in the Irish Champion Hurdle, but he could prove a different proposition at Cheltenham with more likelihood of a stronger pace while he’s shown he enjoys this stiff track and a big run from him wouldn’t surprise in the day one Festival feature.
With amateur riders unable to take up intended rides at the Cheltenham Festival the mount on SIR GERHARD in the finale to day two of the Festival could see Kennedy take over from Jamie Codd who was set to ride initially and the Willie Mullins-trained Jeremy gelding has big claims of taking this prize.
A point-to-point winner previously he’s been impressive in winning both bumper starts to date, readily seeing off a smart rival in Letsbeclearaboutit in a Listed contest at Navan. That one has since found only Kilcruit too good when locking horns with that rival at Leopardstown.
A typically strong pace to this race will help him as he looks to have a big engine by the way he travelled through that contest last time and he showed a good turn of foot late on to take the prize. There’s sure to be more to come from him and he looks set for a big run.
He’s another to have been moved away from Gordon Elliott and he’ll be another potent arrow in Willie Mullins’ typically powerful squad for this team where Kennedy might be retained for the ride given Mullins’ stable jockey Paul Townend likely to partner ante-post favourite Appreciate It.
Marsh Novices Chase
For many punters he’s the Irish banker of the week and ENVOI ALLEN will head to post in the Cheltenham Festival day three opener of the Marsh Novices’ Chase where he’ll take plenty of beating.
Perhaps the biggest loss to Gordon Elliott’s stable in the wake of the recent scandal the unbeaten star has won twice at the Festival already, taking the 2019 Champion Bumper and then adding the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle to his CV twelve months ago.
Switched to chasing this term he has been imperious in his three runs to date, winning a Grade One at Fairyhouse by eight lengths and following up latest at Punchestown in the Killiney Novices’ Chase where he barely came off the bridle.
It is going to take a good one from stopping him collecting a third Cheltenham Festival win and he’s likely Jack Kennedy’s biggest chance of a Festival winner if all goes to plan assuming Cheveley Park Stud choose to retain him for the ride given the proximity to Cheltenham and a change in jockey at a late stage might not be ideal.
While he might not be much of a price he’s likely to also be the focal point and banker of many punters’ Cheltenham free bet accumulators!
It remains to be seen whether owners will keep leading Triumph Hurdle hope ZANAHIYR with Gordon Elliott, but the ride on the horse may yet turn out to be Kennedy’s in any case regardless of whether the gelding stays at Cullentra or not.
Quixilios could still be an option also and initially Kennedy would have had a tough choice to make between the pair although with that one since moving to Henry De Bromhead the decision might have been taken out of his hands; that one though is expected now to be partnered by Rachael Blackmore as he’ll be De Bromhead’s only entry in the contest but of course owner Cheveley Park Stud might again to retain the familiarity factor with Kennedy remaining in the picture.
The Nathaniel gelding was a decent sort on the flat, winning at Fairyhouse for Mick Halford prior to joining Elliott and latterly De Bromhead. Since going hurdling he’s collected a hat-trick of wins at Ballinrobe, Fairyhouse and Leopardstown latterly on Boxing Day where he easily saw off a few smart sorts including fourth-placed Saint Sam who went on to finish runner-up to Quilixios next time.
Zanahiyr though looks a very exciting prospect and looks sure to make his presence felt.