'It was some thrill to get on the board at the festival'
The leading amateur jump jockey looks back on his career highlights
Jamie Codd, 35, is a legend of the Irish point-to-point scene with two championships and more than 800 winners. He is the go-to man for the big amateur riders' events and has five Cheltenham Festival successes on the board.
Last season he enjoyed his first win over the Grand National fences when landing the Fox Hunters' Chase with On The Fringe, his mount in the St James's Place Foxhunter Chase at Cheltenham on Friday.
And to prove himself a man for all seasons, he rode Hubertas, trained by John Quinn, to win the Amateur Derby at Epsom last year. It was Quinn who supplied Codd with his first Cheltenham Festival success in 2009 when Character Building won the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Chase, a race that accounts for four of his five festival victories.
At a schooling and gallops morning at Leopardstown on Monday he rode 11 horses who are Cheltenham possibles, including A Genie In Abottle, his mount in the National Hunt Chase, and four-year-old point-to-pointers. It's a hectic time of year for the big-name riders and, in his own category, Codd is a genuine star.
Accordion - Mrs Jones
Trainer John Quinn
Owner Mrs E Wright
Biggest win 2009 Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Chase
He'll always be special to me as he gave me my first win at the Cheltenham Festival. The ride came about through Luke McMahon, who was a part-owner. He put me in touch with John Quinn and I got the ride in the Kim Muir. He was a real hold-up horse and although he was travelling strongly down the hill I knew I had to wait and not go too soon. It all worked out well and we didn't hit the front until about 150 yards to the finish. It was some thrill to get on the board at the festival and the Kim Muir has been a lucky race for me ever since. It was the only time I rode Character Building and it proved to be the last win of his career.
Cause Of Causes
Dynaformer - Angel In My Heart
Trainer Gordon Elliott
Owner JP McManus
Biggest wins 2012 The Ladbroke Hurdle (not ridden by Codd), 2015 National Hunt Chase, 2016 Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Chase
He's another favourite of mine, having given me two big days at the Cheltenham Festival, winning the four-miler two years ago and the Kim Muir last year. I'm hoping we might make it three in a row on Wednesday when he runs in the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase. He finished fifth over the course on his cross-country debut in January and he's been back there since and schooled well, gaining more experience. If the ground isn't too soft I'd give him a very good chance. He was a very useful handicap hurdler before he went chasing and, while he's won only twice over fences, both those wins have been at Cheltenham. He was unlucky not to win another race at the festival a few years back and he clearly loves the place.
On The Fringe
Exit To Nowhere - Love And Porter
Trainer Enda Bolger
Owner JP McManus
Biggest wins 2015 and 2016 Foxhunter Chase at Cheltenham, 2015 and 2016 Fox Hunters' Chase at Aintree (Codd in 2016), 2010, 2012, 2014, 2015 and 2016 Champion Hunters Chase at Punchestown
As a point-to-point and hunter chase man, it was a privilege to be called up for the ride on this fellow at Aintree last year after Nina [Carberry], his regular partner, picked up a whip ban at the Cheltenham Festival. He has been the outstanding performer in his category for the past few years and it was a big thrill to ride him over the Grand National fences. For most amateur riders the Fox Hunters' at Aintree is the only chance of riding over Becher's, the Canal Turn, the Chair and the other famous fences.
I ride him in the Foxhunter at Cheltenham on Friday and, although he's 12 and there to be shot at, I'm looking forward to it. I thought he ran very well on his first start of the season when second to Foxrock at Leopardstown last month. I'd ridden him only once before Aintree when he was well beaten in the same Leopardstown race last year. He felt a lot better and fitter last month. It was some achievement by Enda [Bolger] to train him to land the three big hunter chases – Cheltenham, Aintree and Punchestown – in 2015 and again last year. Friday's race is the first leg of the same treble attempt and it would be fantastic if he could win round one again.
King's Theatre - Darabaka
Trainer Willie Mullins
Owners Andrea & Graham Wylie
Biggest win 2014 Champion Bumper at Punchestown festival
I rode him only once when he gave me my only Grade 1 win by landing the Champion Bumper at the 2014 Punchestown festival. Willie [Mullins] had four runners in the race and, although Shaneshill had finished second in the bumper at Cheltenham, the reports were that he hadn't been working well in the week leading up to Punchestown. I can't remember whether it was Willie or Patrick [Mullins] I rang looking for the mount, but they were happy to let me ride and we won by two lengths, turning the tables on Silver Concorde, who had beaten him in the Cheltenham bumper. He has gone on to win a couple of Grade 2 hurdles and has always run well at the festival, finishing second in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle and in the RSA Chase last year.
Overbury - Not Enough
Trainer Willie Mullins
Owner Mrs Violet O'Leary
Biggest wins 2005 Champion Bumper, 2005 Durkan New Homes Novice Chase and 2006 Baileys Arkle Novice Chase (none with Codd)
I won two bumpers on him after Willie had bought him for the late Archie O'Leary and his wife, Violet, following his point-to-point win at Knockanard.
He was a beautiful, almost black, horse and a very talented one. Ruby [Walsh] won the Cheltenham Festival bumper on him in 2005 and he went chasing the following season when he won a couple of Grade 1 novices at Leopardstown. He ended that season with an impressive win at the Punchestown festival and I thought he had the potential to become a Gold Cup horse. Unfortunately, he was killed and never raced again.
And one I wish I'd ridden . . .
It's never going to happen but what a horse. I've loved watching him and he's shown himself to be very special, first over hurdles and now over fences. He's the real deal and looks an Irish banker for the festival. Hopefully he'll deliver in the Champion Chase like the exceptional horse he is.
Interview by Tony O'Hehir