Going from school kid to become the number one jockey at the Paul Nicholls yard, whilst still a teenager, is something most young jockeys can only dream of. However, that’s exactly what Harry Cobden had done in less than four full seasons in his profession. He now gets to ride many of the high-profile horses at the Nicholls yard, whilst trainer Colin Tizzard is also a big admirer of the youngster’s talents in the saddle.
So, with a big ride aboard Clan Des Obeaux beckoning in the King George Chase, we thought it was time to take a look at Cobden’s whirlwind rise to the top and what the future may hold.
Cobden may have had only two winners in the 2014/15 season, but it’s no wonder he caught the eye of some big yards as he only had three runners. Hi winners weren’t exactly odds-on favourites either, as those two winners returned a profit of over £34 to a £1 stake.
Harry Cobden caught the eye so much that Paul Nicholls gave him the ride aboard Old Guard in the 2015 Grade 3 Greatwood Hurdle and Cobden steered him to success at 12/1. Cobden rode 30 winners from 138 rides that season, with an amazing 61 horses also finishing in the first four. For the second successive season, Cobden’s mounts also showed a profit to a £1 level stake.
Cobden make an even deeper impression in the 2016/17 season with 63 winners from 326 rides. 105 of his rides also placed in the first four, and he won prize money totalling £762,307. His rides also showed a £27.75 profit to a £1 level stake. Amongst his big winners that season where Frodon in the Rising Stars Novices’ Chase, whilst Irving gave him his first Grade 1 winner in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle.
He also won the Rendlesham Hurdle aboard Zarkandar. Later that season, Cobden won his first race over the Grand National fences when steering Ultragold to success in the Topham Handicap Chase for trainer Colin Tizzard. Tizzard also put Cobden up on Tempestatefloresco to win the Summer Cup at Uttoxeter.
The 2018/18 season was even better, with Cobden riding 76 winners from 440 rides though, if you’d backed all his mounts, you would have shown a significant loss. What was impressive though was the fact he almost doubled the prize money he had won the previous season with total prize money of £1,432,193. His biggest win that season came in the Grade 1 Tingle Creek Chase aboard Politologue, whilst Old Guard won the National Spirit Hurdle.
Cobden also won his first race at the Cheltenham Festival when Kilbricken Storm won the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle. The Grand National Meeting at Aintree was also kind to him, as he rode Ultragold to a repeat success in the Topham Handicap Chase and rode Diego Du Charmil to win the Doom Bar Novices’ Chase.
After Sam Twiston-Davies decided to retire as number one jockey to Paul Nicholls to go freelance, Nicholls had no hesitation in promoting Cobden to become the stable’s number one jockey, despite the fact he was still a teenager.
Cobden has quickly made his mark too, with Grades success aboard Secret Investor and Quel Destin, whilst he steered Dynamite Dollars to success in the Grade 1 Henry VIII Novices’ Chase at Sandown. Colin Tizzard has also kesps using Cobden when available.
With over 50 winners on the board before Christmas, this could be the season where Cobden notches up his first century of winners and he’s well on his way to winning more than £1 Million in prize money once again. Interestingly, despite his high-profile appointment, his rides are also showing a profit to a £1 level stake for the fourth time in his five seasons in the saddle.
What the Future May Hold
Paul Nicholls has employed some of the best jockeys of the modern era, including the likes of Ruby Walsh, Noel Fehily, and Daryl Jacob, so it is testament to Cobden that Nicholls thinks he’s capable of filling some big shoes. At such a tender age, it’s also possible Cobden could be the stable’s number one for many years to come.
However, in the near future, Cobden can look forward to horse like Clan Des Obeaux, whilst it won’t be long before a yard with as much history as that of Paul Nicholls unearths the next batch of potential equine stars.
Cobden has also shown he has what it takes to win races over the Grand National fences, so it could be worth watching with interest what either Paul Nicholls or Colin Tizzard books him to ride in the 2019 Grand National.