Revealed: The Winning Cheltenham Festival Formula

March 9, 2022

BoyleSports index unveils the average profile of the most successful Cheltenham jockeys by analysing 20 years of historic data

  • New research by BoyleSports reveals the average performance metrics of Cheltenham’s top jockeys since the year 2000
  • The winning jockey club would’ve netted you an average of £44 profit from a £1 stake
  • Jockeys win their first race aged 26, but their first Grade 1 race outside of the event aged 22
  • They have an average 16%-win rate, 28% place rate, and 30/1 race day odds
  • County Cork produces the festival’s top victors

How do you pick a Cheltenham winner? Study the form, check the odds, cross your fingers, and hope for the best? BoyleSports believes there could be another way.

In-depth research of every jockey who has placed first in a race at the Cheltenham Festival between 2000 and 2020 reveals the performance statistics that each champion has in common. The analysis focused on the number of wins and places for each jockey, total prize money for each win, and the average starting price, as well as personal characteristics of the top winners to reveal the overall magic formula.  

When it comes to betting on the Grade 1 races at the festival – including the Gold Cup, Champion Hurdle, Queen Mother Champion Chase and the Stayers’ Hurdle – be sure to keep on jockeys aged 26 who have yet to place first in a Cheltenham race, but who have 43 previous races at the festival under their belts. They could well be on their way to glory and are the ones to watch.

Calculating the average statistic for each performance metric analysed shows that the average number of previous Cheltenham wins is four, with three apiece for second and third-place finishes.

The Average Cheltenham Festival Jockey

Jockey Category (avg.)Jockey Performance Stat (avg.)
Cheltenham Win Age26
Grade 1 Race Win Age22
Total Races43
1st Place Wins4
2nd Place Wins3
3rd Place Wins3
Strike Rate (Win Rate)16%
Place Rate28%
1st Place Prize Money Earned£306,383.06
Average Starting Price (odds)30/1
Profit from £1 Stake£44.29

Alongside the performance data, BoyleSports also looked at the personal traits of the top 50 most successful jockeys, everything from eye colour to heritage and their family unit.

With just 15% of licensed professional jockeys being female, it’s no surprise that the average Cheltenham winner is male. Jockeys who hail from Cork and have settled down into marriage with two children tend to fare better on the podium at Cheltenham.

And if you think a win could be written in the stars, the most successful jockeys down the years have been either Aries or Cancer and born on the 17th day of the month.

Jockey Category (avg.)Jockey Personal Characteristic (avg.)
Day of Birth17th
MonthApril, May, or August
Star SignAries or Cancer
Eye ColourBlue
Hair ColourBrown
Place of BirthCork
County of BirthCounty Cork
Marital StatusMarried

Top 10 Most Successful Cheltenham Jockeys

The BoyleSports research also details the top 10 jockeys and how they have performed to inform punters’ decisions when they place their bets for the Cheltenham Festival in 2022. Ruby Walsh is the most successful contender in the last two decades, with a 19% strike rate and average odds of 13/1. The average profit from a £1 stake on Ruby is an impressive £473.53. Barry Geraghty and Davy Russel follow closely behind.

Leon Blanche from BoyleSports comments: “March in the horse racing calendar means one thing – the Cheltenham Festival. Every year, over a quarter of a million spectators cram into the grandstands across four days of action at Cheltenham Racecourse to watch elite-level horse racing. And there’s nothing like the Cheltenham roar to welcome in the first race of the festival and set the tone for some of the most famous races in the horse racing calendar.

“But what makes an elite level jockey and a Cheltenham winner? With only around 450 registered professional jockeys in the sport, it’s a small pool of talent and an exclusive club. So, we wanted to find out what it takes to succeed here. Odds aside, we set about understanding if there’s another way to pick a winning jockey at the festival this year. And by looking at the data, we’ve been able to build what we think is a winning formula. While we can never guarantee a winner, we believe punters dipping into the formula could have the edge.”

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 BoyleSports Press Release

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