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With fourth place in the 2019 Grand National, James Best, onboard 25/1 shot Walk In The Mill, was within reach of claiming the top prize in this famous Aintree steeplechase. This strong showing firmly put him on the map of Grand National jockeys worth paying attention to in future runnings of England’s best-loved steeplechase.
In the following sections, we will go through some of his career stats and see what they tell us about Best’s Grand National performances. We will also mention some of his most defining wins and career highlights.
James Best Career
With more than 2,300 rides under his belt, 170+ race victories and a strike rate above 25% for finishing in the places, James Best has had a respectable career since turning professional in 2011 making him a formidable favourite in this year’s Grand National.
His most prolific season to date was 2013/14 when he rode 25 winners. Best backed this up in 2016/17 with another 24 winners over the National Hunt jumps. He is looking good to eclipse that total in the 2019/20 season. As of the 30th of November, he’s chalked up 14 wins from 164 runs, giving him a 9% win ratio. This is his highest percentage for 6 years, so he’s clearly in a rich vein of form.
As a freelance jockey, Best rides for multiple trainers such as Neil Mulholland, Robert Walford and Seamus Mullins. However, he has tended to have the most success when onboard Jackie du Plessis-trained horses. This partnership has shared 11 race wins and 25 placings from 110 starts.
Among the horses Best has ridden, Cruise In Style is his longest partner. Together they’ve achieved five race wins from 41 starts, but in terms of greatest success rate, his five wins from 12 races on Mr Medic takes some beating.
James Best Trivia
This jockey from South East Cornwall rarely features too heavily in the news, but there was quite a bit of chatter about him prior to 2019’s Grand National. His mount was Robert Walford’s horse Walk In The Mill which had comfortably won the Becher Chase in December. This race is often considered a good marker for the National, and so it proved with Best clinching an impressive fourth.
In 2013, James made the national news after his emotional reaction to winning the Ultima Business Solutions Handicap Hurdle on 20/1 Return Spring.
Best has been a consistent jockey throughout his career. Perhaps not in the same class as Tony McCoy and Richard Johnson, but few are if we’re being fair. Below, we have listed some of his major wins and past results over the years.
|Silver Trophy Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3)||Lamb Or Cod||P. Hobbs||2012|
|Ultima Business Solutions Handicap Hurdle (Listed Race)||Return Spring||P. Hobbs||2013|
|BetBright Handicap Chase (Grade 3)||Pilgrims Bay||N. Mulholland||2017|
|Becher Handicap Chase (Grade 3)||Walk In The Mill||R. Walford||2018|
As a Grand National jockey, Best has two rides to his name. In addition to Walk In The Mill, he also rode Gas Line Boy in 2015. This was his debut National, but it didn’t last long as he fell at the first fence.
With his exploits in 2019, James Best proved he has what it takes to be a serious contender in this race for several years to come.