The make-up of the jump jockey weighing room is changing, which is giving fresh faces the chance to shine.
Last season Davy Russell and Tom Scudamore were two more top riders to hang up their saddles, following the likes of Richard Johnson and Ruby Walsh into retirement.
We are seeing a shift, with new jockeys being used by more trainers, and there is a buzz that the younger generation are now making their mark.
They have been led this season by Sean Bowen. He has ridden 91 winners and has flown into a 33-win lead in the Jump Jockeys Championship ahead of reigning champion Brian Hughes.
Sean is yet to ride a Cheltenham Festival winner but is attached to Olly Murphy, who trains a team of young horses who have plenty of potential. There could be a Festival winner in there!
Sean Bowen has had a terrific season, riding 91 winners and leading the Championship
Harry Skelton is also gunning to impress during the big spring festivals to come in 2024
The 2020-21 champion jockey Harry Skelton continues to have a consistent record at the big spring festivals, with winners at the Cheltenham Festival and the Aintree Grand National meeting last year, and trainer brother Dan Skelton goes into this season with a strong roster of horses.
The younger jockeys who have caught my eye are headed by Lilly Pinchin and Luca Morgan, two talented conditional riders who are still learning their craft.
Morgan won the Conditional Jockeys Championship last season and has recently returned from an injury that sidelined him for the summer.
Pinchin rode her two biggest winners last season, both at Cheltenham. She’s strong, versatile and there’s a je ne sais quoi about her riding which sets her apart from many other conditionals at the moment.
Harry Cobden has won 22 Grade Ones despite being just 24 and rides for Paul Nicholls, the most powerful trainer in the country. Nicholls seems to have an ever-tightening grip on jump racing and Cobden is the man he tasks with putting the ball in the net!
ONES TO WATCH – IN THEIR OWN WORDS
Harry Skelton (34)
Main stable: Dan Skelton.
Biggest achievement: Champion Jockey 2020-21.
Horse looking forward to riding: Kateira, runner-up in a Grade One novice hurdle at Aintree who’ll be going down the Mares’ Hurdle route.
Strengths: React to situations well during a race.
What are you watching on Netflix? Mark Cavendish documentary.
Sean Bowen (26)
Main Stable: Olly Murphy.
Biggest achievement: Winning the 2022 Topham Chase at Aintree on Mac Tottie for trainer father Peter Bowen.
Horse looking forward to riding: Strong Leader, second in a Grade One novice hurdle last season. Disappointing on comeback in the Welsh Champion Hurdle but will now step up in distance, which should suit.
Strengths: Making things happen in races, active not reactive.
What are you watching on Netflix? Beckham.
Lilly Pinchin names ‘being cool under pressure’ and counts Scooby Doo as her Netflix pick
Lilly Pinchin (24)
Main Stable: Charlie Longsdon.
Biggest achievement: Winning big race at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day.
Horse looking forward to riding: Hector Javilex was good over hurdles but even better is expected now he goes steeplechasing.
Strengths: Doesn’t panic, cool under pressure.
What are you watching on Netflix? Scooby Doo.
Luca Morgan (21)
Main Stable: Ben Pauling.
Biggest achievement: Conditional Jockeys Championship winner 2022-23.
Horse looking forward to riding: Shakem Up’Arry, who was placed at both Aintree and Cheltenham last season. Has a clutch of early-season big-race entries and makes seasonal debut at Aintree tomorrow.
Strengths: Versatile tactically.
What are you watching on Netflix? The Night Agent.
Harry Cobden (centre) will be looking to bank back-to-back successes with Bravemansgame
Harry Cobden (24)
Main Stable: Paul Nicholls.
Biggest achievement: King George VI Chase winner on Bravemansgame in 2022.
Horse looking forward to riding: Bravemansgame will go for back-to-back successes in the King George and try to improve on last season’s Cheltenham Gold Cup second place.
Strengths: Doesn’t overcomplicate things.
What are you watching on Netflix? Yellowstone.