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Patrick Mullins considering options after amateur riders banned from Cheltenham Festival

  • Amateur jockeys will not be allowed to take part in this year's Cheltenham Festival
  • Amateur sport is currently banned in the UK as part of the lastest Covid-19 lockdown
  • Patrick Mullins revealed he's considering turning pro to ride at the meeting
  • Mullins is the most successful amateur rider of all time and was due to ride plenty of good horses at Cheltenham
jamie codd
Jamie Codd won't be riding at this year's Cheltenham Festival. (Getty)

Amateur riders play an important roll at the Cheltenham Festival. The Hunter Chase is affectionately known as the Amateur Gold Cup, and races like the National Hunt Chase, the Kim Muir and the Martin Pipe are open only to amateur and conditional riders.

When the coronavirus pandemic forced the UK into it's third national lockdown, all amateur and grassroots sport came to a half. This week, the government outlined plans for all sport to recommence later in the spring. 

Sadly, the lifting of any restrictions will come after Cheltenham, which starts on Tuesday 16th March, meaning amateur riders will not be allowed to ride during this year's meeting.

"I was preparing myself for this." said top amateur rider, Jamie Codd. 

"I thought we might be in trouble, and I won't be turning professional but I will be cheering on all the Irish horses from home."

"It's hugely disappointing for the amateurs in the UK and for us qualified riders in Ireland not to be there, but this is a government decision in very difficult circumstances and there was very little we could do."

patrick mullins
Patrick Mullins is considering turning pro to ride at Cheltenham. (Getty)

Patrick Mullins, on the other hand, is considering turning pro to ride at the 2021 Cheltenham Festival. Mullins is the most successful amateur rider of all time, with over 600 winners to his name and four victories at the Cheltenham Festival.

"I'm very disappointed about this development," Mullins told the Racing Post. "Obviously I had a very good book of rides so I will have to give some very serious thought as to whether I turn professional or not." 

The lure of riding Champion Bumper favourite Kilcruit, along with Melon, Sharjah and Billaway may be too much for Mullins to resist. Yet, turning from amateur to professional simply to take part in the Festival isn't as simple as it sounds.

A spokesman for the IHRB committee said on Thursday, "Any individual applying for a professional licence will be required to demonstrate their intent to remain as a professional jockey and not to just take out a licence to circumvent current public health restrictions."

"The rules are designed to allow those individuals who wish to make a career as a professional jockey to apply for the appropriate licence."

"Any licence granted may be subject to conditions by the Licensing Committee under Rule 19B which may include a period of time for which the licence must be held for prior to any application to return to amateur status may be granted."

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