Cheltenham 2015: Druids magic for Barry Geraghty
The Druids Nephew enhanced his claims for the Crabbie's Grand National when striding out a ready winner of the Ultima Business Solutions Handicap Chase at Cheltenham under the direction of Barry Geraghty.
Brought into the 25-furlong contest on the final circuit after Annacotty had made the running with Azure Fly and Grand Jesture, The Druids Nephew (8-1) hit the front two out.
Irish jockey Geraghty kept the eight-year-old galloping strongly to score by three and three-quarter lengths from Grand Jesture (25-1) and give Neil Mulholland his first Festival winner.
Gallant Oscar was a length and a half away in third, with Indian Castle fourth (16-1) and Pendra (9-1), ridden by Tony McCoy, fifth.
Geraghty said: "He jumped nicely.
"Every time I gave him a squeeze, he quickened.
"It's only when you come here (Cheltenham) you realise what it means (to have a winner).
"Everyone wants to ride a winner so it's good to have got one on the board."
Mulholland said: "We've kept him for this for a while and thankfully it's paid off.
"Barry knows the horse now, he's ridden him in the past and the horse was in great order.
"I thought the horse was in the best condition we've had him in. It's very important for us. That's our 53rd winner since May, including the Flat, so we're delighted. Things are going well, but it's all about Cheltenham. This is our World Cup."
Of the Grand National, Mulholland added: "I'll have to have a word with Barry about it. I'm not going to talk it up now, it's all for another day and I want to enjoy this first. This has been the plan for a while. We gave him a freshener over hurdles as we knew he already had solid handicap form.
"When he ran behind Sam Winner here, we ran him not knowing if he would stay but he proved that day he did.
"Barry and I have been friendly for a long time so we have a good relationship and it helps having someone to bounce ideas off."