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Monday, 19 November, 2018

No resting on his laurels for ambitious champion conditional

Harry Cobden: champion conditional rider
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Harry Cobden has set his sights on joining the 100 club after he was crowned the season's champion conditional rider at Sandown on Saturday.

After an early tussle with David Noonan, the 18-year-old has dominated the conditionals' title race, finishing the season with 60 winners, 24 clear of Noonan in second.

Thanks to the backing of Paul Nicholls, Cobden has enjoyed plenty of big-race success along the way, including the Grade 1 Fighting Fifth Hurdle on Irving, the undoubted highlight of his season.

"I'm delighted," said the rider. "I was miles away last year and then in the last month I rode 11 winners and only just missed out, and after that it was my goal at the start of this season to be champion conditional.

"I've ridden some big horses in big races thanks to Paul. Irving was massive – it was my first ride in a Grade 1 and to win it was pretty special.

Happy days: in the winner's enclosure with Irving after the Fighting Fifth

"There's a good set of lads at Paul's and plenty of them. We're all good mates but you strive to be better than the others, which can only help."

Cobden is well aware the hard work starts on Monday as the new season begins without the safety net of a weight allowance, but he is keen to keep his foot on the pedal and has already set some lofty targets.

He said: "Last year I didn't really ride through the summer but I'll try to this year and keep a foot in the door at Ditcheat, and have a few rides for Mr [Colin] Tizzard. I'll keep my head down and keep plugging away.

"I'd love to be champion one day and I'll try to get 100 winners next season. That might not happen but if I could do it in the next five years, that would be great."

I've ridden some big horses in big races thanks to Paul. Irving was massive – it was my first ride in a Grade 1 and to win it was pretty special

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