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Getting To Know: Harry Cobden

Harry Cobden seeks a third Cheltenham Festival victory this year and talks to cheltenham.co.uk about his life in racing

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Horse Racing - Cheltenham Festival - Cheltenham Racecourse, Cheltenham, Britain - March 13, 2019 Harry Cobden celebrates winning the 2.10 RSA Insurance Novices? Chase on Topofthegame Action Images via Reuters/Matthew Childs

It’s the penultimate day of the 2021 Cheltenham Festival and Harry Cobden joins the latest discussion with cheltenham.co.uk.

Cobden has the hot seat of stable rider at Ditcheat for Paul Nicholls – who has trained 46 Festival winners in his prestigious career as a National Hunt chief. The pair hunt more Prestbury Park glory on Thursday afternoon with Real Steel and Shantou Flyer both gracing their presence on the the new course.

Harry Cobden joined Paul Nicholls’ yard as a conditional in the 2015/16 season

Harry will undoubtedly be remembered for his thrilling ride on Topofthegame in the old RSA (now Brown Advisory) two years ago, but it was aboard 33-1 shot Kilbricken Storm in the 2018 Albert Bartlett where he first stole Grade One headlines.

Since then, he has won a King George, Ascot Chase and Challow Hurdle, and has already surpassed a century of winners for the season.

Bravesmansgame, who finished third in the Ballymore on Wednesday, won the Challow under Cobden at Newbury in December

We spoke to the young Somerset native about his favourite win in the saddle to date, a horse from the past he’d choose to ride the most and life outside the saddle.

Topofthegame battled to win a classic RSA Novices’ Chase (Grade 1) in 2019, how much did the defeat to La Bague Au Roi in the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase at Kempton that year help you come out on top at Cheltenham?

It was a phenomenal performance, he battled really hard and got the race won with two really good jumps over the last two fences. I think we obviously learnt a lot at Kempton in the fact that we probably got there too soon and La Bague Au Roi outbattled us. It taught me that we needed to play our cards late on him.

widely considered the race of the cheltenham festival, topofthegame saw off santini in 2019 [credit: racing tv]
Which of your eight Grade 1 victories have you enjoyed the most and why?

Winning the King George on Clan Des Obeaux. I really fancied him going into the race and it was for our great owners Jed Mason, Mr Barber and Sir Alex Ferguson – it was a fantastic day.

If you could rewind the clock, which of Paul (Nicholls) former horses would you most like to have a spin on?

I’d love to have a spin on Kauto Star. He was obviously a champion for so many years and won numerous Betfair Chase’s, King George’s and a couple of Gold Cup’s. If I could ride one, it’d be him.

Kauto Star won five King George’s, four Betfair Chase’s and two Cheltenham Gold Cup’s, and is often considered the greatest steeplechaser of all time
Which race would you most like to win?

The Gold Cup.

You have several other interests outside of racing, what’s a typical day off in the Cobden household look like?

I wouldn’t do a great deal on a day-off. I’d perhaps just mill around on the farm, do the odd few jobs and have a nice quiet day.

 Joe (Tizzard) is soon to take over the reins from his father Colin at Venn Farm. How much do you think much will change or is it just the title above the door?

I don’t think a good deal will change. He’ll still have a good bit of involvement, but Joe’s obviously been there for years and he’s more than capable of running the show. They’ve obviously had a poor start to the season, but everything is coming back now and hopefully, they’ll have a good end to the season and be right back.

Harry Cobden’s first Festival winner arrived for Colin Tizzard three years ago
Who’s your sporting hero and why?

In racing, it would be AP McCoy and Ruby Walsh. They dominated jump racing for so many years and their CVs are unbelievable and growing up, I really admired them as sportsmen.

Dominic Chapman is senior content writer at Low6 with a passion for horse racing. He provides a NAP and NB every day throughout the week on selected National Hunt and Flat cards in both Britain and Ireland. Additionally, he hosts the Paddock Picks Podcast with former Welsh Grand National-winning pilot, Charlie Poste - the pair interviewing and discussing current racing topics with a special guest every week.

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