Barry Geraghty calls time on illustrious riding career aged 40

Sire Du Berlais winning the Pertemps under Barry Geraghty at the 2020 Cheltenham Festival

We were met with some very sad news on Saturday night as Barry Geraghty, one of jump racings most successful and talented riders, called time on his career at the age of 40. Having partnerships with some of the biggest owners and trainers throughout his illustrious career, it’s going to be very strange not having Geraghty at the Festival next March, a place he very much called home.

Ending on a high

Geraghty bows out after a fittingly superb Cheltenham Festival, where he took home a remarkable five victories from eleven rides at jump racing’s summit. That brought his overall tally for the Festival to 43, a remarkable achievement for a jockey whose career spanned 24 years. He is eclipsed at the Festival only by Ruby Walsh, who rode 59 winners before signing off on his career.

Geraghty has been a perennial figure in the weighing room for a number of years, with his most recent job being in the green and gold hoops of JP McManus. He enjoyed a huge amount of success in those silks, including five victories in those colours at the 2020 Festival. His final ride was aboard Saint Roi in the County Hurdle in those silks and fittingly, it was a successful one.

His final tally of 1920 winners puts him fourth on the all-time winner’s list for jump jockeys, with Anthony McCoy, Ruby Walsh and Richard Johnson being the only jockeys to eclipse him in that regard.

Where it all began

Riding his first winner in January 1997 at Down Royal, he would become Irish Champion Jockey just three years later. It would be the first of two Jockey’s titles on that side of the Irish sea, gaining the second in the 2003-04 campaign. He gained his first Grade 1 success in the 1999 Drinmore Chase, where he steered Alexander Banquet to victory.

His first winner on British shores came aboard the Jessie Harrington Miss Orchestra in the 1998 Midlands Grand National, riding his first Cheltenham Festival winner for the same trainer in 2002, as Moscow Flyer claimed the Arkle.

After a hugely successful stint for Harrington, he took over from Mick Fitzgerald in 2008 as Nicky Henderson’s stable jockey, a decision that would reap massive rewards. Winning the Champion Hurdle aboard Punjabi in 2009, he landed a second Gold Cup on Bobs Worth in 2013, among many other accolades at the highest level in a partnership with Henderson that stands tall to this day.

Big game player

Geraghty’s record on the big-stage was one like no other, with the County Meath native amassing 121 Grade 1 victories. A dual Gold Cup winner aboard Bobs Worth and Kicking King, he also racked up four Champion Hurdles and five Champion Chases. He also managed to scoop up a Grand National at the age of 23, steering the Jimmy Mangan trained Monty’s Pass to glory back in 2003. In fact, he was the first jockey to have won the four Championship races at the Festival and the Grand National.

He’s perhaps best known for his partnerships with Sprinter Sacre and Moscow Flyer, two devasting two-mile performers who gained him three wins in both the Champion Chase and Tingle Creek. Geraghty was only outdone at the highest level by once again, Ruby Walsh.

Champ will go down in history has Geraghty’s final Grade 1 winner and it’s certainly a fitting one. Looking to be floundering when ten lengths down at the final fence of the RSA, Geraghty was not to be denied and managed to invigorate his mount on the run-in, storming home to land the most unlikely victory of the entire meeting.

It was Geraghty summed up perfectly. Gutsy, tenacious and full of class.

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