Young Irish jockey targets Cheltenham glory

Kerry native Jack Kennedy has been in fine form for Gordon Elliot this season

Jack Kennedy, Horse Racing Ireland

Image: ©INPHO/Lorraine O'Sullivan

Kerry native Jack Kennedy is the rising star of the Ireland jockeys' room and is targeting riding a winner at the Cheltenham Festival.

The 17-year-old helped Gordon Elliot to a 1-2 finish during December's Lexus Chase at Leopardstown and has already steered over 100 winners in his career.

It is now a question of waiting to see what he rides at a meeting his describes as "like no other".

"I'm very much looking forward to Cheltenham," he told Mike Vince. "I can't wait. I'm not too sure what I'll be riding yet, but hopefully I'll get a few nice rides.

"For me it's the main [meet], so I'm going to be trying to tick this one off with a win... I used to get a half-day from school every day to go home and watch the races. I suppose that's how it all started."

His form this season has been good and he's racked up more than 50 wins this season for Elliot's County Meath yard. Performances like this, he says, will be important when heading into Cheltenham.

"Yeah listen [the form] has been great. I couldn't ask for anything better and I'll be doing my best to trying to keep that going.

"It's all about your opportunities and being able to ride with confidence and if you're missing one small part, the whole thing crumbles. Confidence is certainly a big thing heading into these meets."

Cheltenham has already lost a number of high profile runners, including Willie Mullins duo Faugheen and Min. Their absence was announced just days after Annie Power was ruled out due to a leg injury.

The 2017 Cheltenham Festival will begin on March 14th and will run until St Patrick's Day.

Jack Kennedy aboard Ball D'Arc during his win at the Bar One Racing Dan Moore Memorial Handicap Chase at Fairyhouse. Image: ©INPHO/Lorraine O'Sullivan