The youngest jockey in the 2017 Grand National is Jack Kennedy, he doesn’t turn 18 until April 22.
Kennedy has made a real name for himself in Ireland this winter, and is currently second behind Ruby Walsh in the Irish Jump jockeys’ championship with 64 winners (as of April 5).
Kennedy, who was a successful pony racer, works for trainer Gordon Elliott, for whom he has ridden three Grade One winners. The 17-year-old scored his first Cheltenham Festival victory last month on the Elliott-trained Labaik in the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. He rides Roi Des Francs for Elliott in the Randox Health Grand National.
Like Kennedy, Harry Cobden will ride in his first Grand National on Saturday. The 18-year-old, who turns 19 on November 5, has ridden 54 winners this season (as of April 5) and is leading the British conditional jockeys’ title. Cobden is attached to champion Jump trainer Paul Nicholls’ yard and rode his first Grade One winner on Nicholls’ Irving in the Stan James Fighting Fifth Hurdle in November. He will probably be on board the Nicholls-trained Just A Par in the Randox Health Grand National this year. Just A Par is up for auction after racing tomorrow evening (Thursday, April 6) at the Goffs UK Aintree Sale.
The trio is completed by Sean Bowen, who turns 20 on September 5. The son of trainer Peter Bowen has already had two Randox Grand National rides, and both completed the course: Mon Parrain was 11th in 2015 and Just A Par finished 15th last year.
Bowen has ridden 76 winners as of April 5, and is currently 10th in the British Jump jockeys’ title race. Most of his big wins to date have come from Paul Nicholls, for whom he rode Just A Par to take the Bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown in 2015. He has the ride on Le Mercurey, trained by Nicholls, in the 2017 Randox Health Grand National.
The youngest jockey to win the Randox Health Grand National was Bruce Hobbs, who was just 17 when he took the race aboard Battleship in 1938.
Noel Fehily is the oldest jockey riding in this year’s Randox Health Grand National at the age of 42, which he reached on December 24. Fehily comes to Aintree fresh from an excellent Cheltenham Festival where he won the Stan James Champion Hurdle with the Nicky Henderson-trained Buveur D’Air and the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase aboard Special Tiara. He has had 14 previous rides in the Grand National and has finished fifth in the race twice (Risk Accessor, 2006; Rocky Creek, 2014). This year he rides the well-fancied Blaklion, trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies.
The oldest jockey to win the Randox Health Grand National was Dick Saunders, who was 48 when he rode Grittar to victory in 1982.