Barry Geraghty's retirement represents a true changing of the guard in the National Hunt weighing room - Conelius Lysaght reflects on his life in the saddle.
The portents that one day Barry Geraghty would scale the greatest national hunt heights year after year were perhaps there from the word go.
Geraghty was raised at stables in County Meath, Ireland where his grandfather, Laurence, bred Golden Miller, the legendary steeplechaser of the 1930s, with five Cheltenham Gold Cup successes to his name, one of them, in 1934, followed up by victory in the Grand National, still an unequalled feat in the same year.
Although the jockey may not have ever lifted jumping’s two most glittering prizes in the same season, both appear on a CV bursting with talented equine collaborators and outstanding winning content – so much of it acquired at successive Cheltenham Festivals – and one notable too for the sheer longevity of its listings.
During a genuinely golden era, when Sir AP McCoy and Ruby Walsh were lurking around every corner, and Richard Johnson and others still are, Geraghty held the most prominent of positions.
He did it on Kicking King and Bobs Worth in the Gold Cup; Monty’s Pass in the Grand National; Moscow Flyer, Big Zeb, Finian’s Rainbow and Sprinter Sacre in the Queen Mother Champion Chase; there were a record-equalling four Champion Hurdle wins; also, lucrative links to trainers Jessie Harrington and Nicky Henderson and, latterly, the plum job replacing McCoy in the green and gold hooped silks on runners owned by JP McManus.
Of the many headline horses, the partnership with the Harrington-trained Moscow Flyer, a charismatic star of the fast and furious two mile chasing division – though he did win over further – stands out.
They combined for all but one of the horse’s twenty-six victories, forming a famously close and formidable axis, and Geraghty, reflecting on his career, sparked memories and smiles aplenty for me when saying: "Nothing was going to beat him as long as I stayed on him and he stayed on his feet."
Because, over steeplechase fences, they fell or the jockey was unseated four times, almost all high profile including when in the lead at Punchestown in 2003 and, a season later, when defending the Queen Mother Champion Chase title at Cheltenham.
That appearance by Moscow Flyer came amidst a haze of hype, and the unseating must have felt like a crushing blow, but I recall Geraghty ‘fronting up’ with a string of post-race interviews – the jockey who had been described as a “cocky little bastard” early in his career had left that behind.
And it must be extra satisfying that not only does the retirement come on his own terms – despite being plagued by injury – but it also follows a memorable five-winner Festival, when he only narrowly missed out on the top rider award, thereby silencing snipers who had been yapping about the possibility of those famous skills waning.
So, the jump jockeys' changing room now has no Geraghty as well as no McCoy and no Walsh; Richard Johnson gallops on of course alongside fellow stalwarts like Davy Russell and Robbie Power, but for how much longer – the guard is well and truly changing.
Barry Geraghty's Cheltenham Winners
- Arkle Challenge Trophy Moscow Flyer
- William Hill Trophy Youlneverwalkalone
- Pertemps Final Inching Closer
- Queen Mother Champion Chase Moscow Flyer
- Triumph Hurdle Spectroscope
- County Hurdle Spirit Leader
- Stayers Hurdle - Iris's Gift
- Queen Mother Champion Chase - Moscow Flyer
- Cheltenham Gold Cup - Kicking King
- Royal & SunAlliance Chase - Star De Mohaison
- Coral Cup - Skys The Limit
- Champion Bumper - Cork All Star
- Jewsons Novices' Handicap Chase - Finger on The Pulse
- Arkle Challenge Trophy - Forpadydeplasterer
- Champion Hurdle - Punjabi
- Triumph Hurdle - Zaynar
- Queen Mother Champion Chase - Big Zeb
- Coral Cup - Spirit River
- Triumph Hurdle - Soldatino
- Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle - Bobs Worth
- Arkle Challenge Trophy - Sprinter Sacre
- Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle - Simonsig
- RSA Chase - Bobs Worth
- Queen Mother Champion Chase - Finian's Rainbow
- Ryanair Chase - Riverside Theatre
- Arkle Challenge Trophy - Simonsig
- Queen Mother Champion Chase - Sprinter Sacre
- Cheltenham Gold Cup - Bobs Worth
- Champion Hurdle - Jezki
- RSA Chase - O'Faolians Boy
- World Hurdle - More Of That
- Ultima Business Solutions Handicap Chase - The Druids Nephew
- Triumph Hurdle - Peace and Co
- Triumph Hurdle - Ivanovich Gorbatov
- Champion Hurdle - Buveur d'Air
- Grand Annual Chase - Le Prezien
- JLT Novices Chase Defi De Seuil
- Pertemps Hurdle]Sire De Berlais
- Champion Hurdle - Epatante
- RSA Chase - Champ
- Coral Cup - Dame De Compagnie
- Pertemps Hurdle - Sire De Berlais
- County Handicap Hurdle - Saint Roi
Barry Geraghty's Grade One Winners
- Alanna Homes Champion Novice Hurdle - (1) Jer's Girl (2016)
- Arkle Novice Chase - (2) Bust Out (2003), Kicking King (2004)
- Champion Four Year Old Hurdle -(1) Grandouet (2011)
- Chanelle Pharma Novice Hurdle -(1) Bleu Et Rouge (2016)
- Christmas Hurdle - (2) Sacundai (2003), Emotional Moment (2004)
- Dr P. J. Moriarty Novice Chase -(1) Pizzaro (2004)
- Drinmore Novice Chase - (2) Alexander Banquet (1999), Le Coudray (2003)
- Golden Cygnet Novice Hurdle - (3) Kazal (2007), Roberto Goldback (2009), Coole River (2010)
- Hatton's Grace Hurdle - (1) Limestone Lad (2002)
- Herald Champion Novice Hurdle - (4) Moscow Flyer (2000), Clopf (2007), Jezki (2013), Don't Touch It (2016)
- Irish Daily Mirror Novice Hurdle - (4) Bright Gas (2005), Got Attitude (2008), Rigour Back Bob (2010), Beat That (2014)
- Irish Gold Cup -(1) Alexander Banquet (2002)
- John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase -(2) Kicking King (2004), In Compliance (2006)
- Mares Novice Hurdle Championship Final - (2) Shirley Casper (2009), Jer's Girl (2016)
- Morgiana Hurdle - (2) Cockney Lad (1997), Back In Front (2003)
- Neville Hotels Novice Chase - (1) Pizarro (2003)
- Punchestown Champion Chase - (2) Moscow Flyer (2004), Big Zeb (2011)
- Punchestown Champion Hurdle - (3) Moscow Flyer (2001), Macs Joy (2006), Punjabi (2008)
- Punchestown Gold Cup - (5) Moscow Express (2001), Florida Pearl (2002), Kicking King (2005), China Rock (2012), Carlingford Lough (2016)
- Racing Post Novice Chase - (2) Moscow Flyer (2001), Le Coudray (2002)
- Royal Bond Novice Hurdle - (1) Moscow Flyer (1999)
- Ryanair Gold Cup -(2) Rebel Fitz (2014), Kylemore Lough (2016)
- Ryanair Hurdle - (3) Moscow Flyer (2000), Liss A Paoraigh (2002),
- Ryanair Novice Chase - (4) Moscow Flyer (2002), Big Zeb (2008), Lucky William (2012), God's Own (2014)
- Savills Chase - (1) Bobs Worth (2013)
- Slaney Novice Hurdle - (2) Canary Wharf (2002), Kazal (2007)
- Spring Juvenile Hurdle - (3) Personal Column (2008), Guitar Pete (2014), A Wave of the Sea (2020)
Great Britain (88)
- Aintree Hurdle - (3) Oscar Whisky (2011,2012), Buveur d'Air (2017)
- Arkle Challenge Trophy - (4) Moscow Flyer (2002), Forpadydeplasterer (2009), Sprinter Sacre (2012), Simonsig (2013)
- Ascot Chase - (3) Monet's Garden (2010), Riverside Theatre (2011, 2012)
- Ballymore Novices' Hurdle - (1) Simonsig (2012)
- Betway Bowl - (1) Florida Pearl (2002)
- Celebration Chase - (2) Cenkos (2002,2004)
- Challow Novices' Hurdle - (2) Champ (2019)
- Champion Bumper - (1) Cork All Star (2007)
- Champion Hurdle - (4) Punjabi (2009), Jezki (2014), Buveur d'Air (2018), Epatante (2020)
- Cheltenham Gold Cup - (2) Kicking King (2005), Bobs Worth (2013)
- Christmas Hurdle - (3) Yanworth (2016), Buveur d'Air (2017), Epatante (2019)
- Clarence House Chase - (2) Sprinter Sacre (2013), Defi Du Seuil (2020)
- Coral Cup - (3) Sky's The Limit (2006), Spirit River (2010), Dame De Compagnie (2020)
- Fighting Fifth Hurdle - (3) Punjabi (2008), Buveur d'Air (2017, 2018)
- Henry VIII Novices' Chase - (1) Captain Conan (2012)
- JLT Novices' Chase - (1) Defi du Seuil (2019)
- King George VI Chase - (2) Kicking King (2004,2005)
- Liverpool Hurdle - (2) Iris's Gift (2004), Whisper (2014)
- Long Walk Hurdle - (2) Punchestown (2008), Unowhatimeanharry (2016)
- Maghull Novices' Chase - (2) Finian's Rainbow (2011), Sprinter Sacre (2012)
- Manifesto Novices' Chase - (2) Mad Max (2010), Captain Conan (2013)
- Melling Chase - (4) Moscow Flyer (2004, 2005), Finian's Rainbow (2012), Sprinter Sacre (2013)
- Mersey Novices' Hurdle - (2) Spirit Son (2011), Simonsig (2012)
- Mildmay Novices' Chase - (2) Star de Mohaison (2006), Burton Port (2010)
- Queen Mother Champion Chase - (5) Moscow Flyer (2003, 2005), Big Zeb (2010), Finian's Rainbow (2012), Sprinter Sacre (2013)
- RSA Insurance Novices' Chase - (4) Star de Mohaison (2006), Bobs Worth (2012), O'Faolain's Boy (2014), Champ (2020)
- Ryanair Chase - (1) Riverside Theatre (2012)
- Scilly Isles Novices' Chase - (4) Punchestowns (2010), Captain Conan (2013), Oscar Whisky (2014), Defi Du Seuil (2019)
- Sefton Novices' Hurdle - (3) Sackville (2000), Iris's Gift (2003), Beat That (2014)
- Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle - (1) Bobs Worth (2011)
- Stayers' Hurdle - (2) Iris's Gift (2004), More Of That (2014)
- Tingle Creek Chase - (4) Moscow Flyer (2003, 2004), Sprinter Sacre (2012), Defi Du Seuil (2019)
- Tolworth Hurdle - (3) Minella Class (2011), Captain Conan (2012), L'ami Serge (2015)
- Top Novices' Hurdle - (2) General Miller (2010), Josses Hill (2014)
- Triumph Hurdle - (5) Spectroscope (2003), Zaynar (2009), Soldatino (2010), Peace And Co (2015), Ivanovich Gorbatov (2016)
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