herald

Friday 9 December 2016

geraghty faces a late, late call

Russell on the comeback but rates his own Punchestown chances as 50-50

BARRY GERAGHTY (pictured) is likely to know on today if he is to make a surprise early return from injury for the last day of the British jumps season at Sandown this Saturday.

The Meath native, retained in the UK by Nicky Henderson who intends to run Sprinter Sacre and Bobs Worth in the two feature races, still rates his prospects as "slim" and is more optimistic of being back in action for the Punchestown Festival next week.

He reports his leg to be healing extremely well after he sustained a hairline fracture of his tibia in a fall at Downpatrick on March 22.

SPECIALIST

"We'll have to make a decision and see how we go. I'll see how I get through today and maybe make a decision tomorrow. I don't know yet," he said.

"I'm seeing my specialist in the morning. The leg's good, I'm flying, but it's not my specialist field. My prospects for Sandown are probably a bit slim, but we'll keep our fingers crossed. Punchestown is still a week away."

Davy Russell rates his prospects of being fit for the Punchestown Festival next week as "50-50".

The jockey has been sidelined since breaking an arm in a fall at Gowran Park on March 21.

"The arm is coming along but I'm not sure now when I'll be back yet," said Russell. "I'm seeing the specialist later in the week, so we'll see what they see and if they are happy with it.

"It's still up in the air. It's 50-50 me riding at Punchestown at the minute."

Mark Walsh returns to action at Tipperary on Wednesday after breaking an arm and an ankle in a fall from Winter Breeze for trainer Michael Winters at Thurles in February.

Winters is supplying him with his comeback ride on Bitsandpieces in the Follow Tipperary Races On Twitter Maiden Hurdle.

"He's back tomorrow, thank god," said his agent Garry Cribbin.

"He's going to ride that horse for Mick Winters he was second on at Thurles in February. Hopefully he'll get off to a good start.

"He's fit and well and raring to go."

What was galling for Walsh is that he was leading the Irish jockeys' championship on 68 winners when injury intervened, but now finds himself five behind Ruby Walsh, who is top on 73, with Paul Townend on 67 at the start of play on Tuesday.

"To lead the whole way and then for that to happen it's shocking, but Mark is a very positive person. He's itching to get back and going again. He's as fit as he can be," said Cribbin.

"He'll be available for whatever is there at Punchestown. Fingers crossed, we'll pick up a few nice rides with a bit of luck."

Walsh is the main rider in Ireland for leading owner JP McManus and with Tony McCoy retiring at Sandown this weekend, should come in for some good rides.

One of those mounts could be the 2014 champion hurdler Jezki, who is due to step up to three miles for the first time in the Ladbrokes World Series Hurdle.

Walsh, along with Geraghty, is in the running to replace McCoy on Jessica Harrington's seven-year-old.

Geraghty is unbeaten in five rides on Jezki while Walsh has only ridden him once, finishing second to Hurricane Fly in the Morgiana Hurdle in November.

Jezki is owned by JP McManus and his racing manager Frank Berry said: "I'd imagine it will either be Mark or Barry who will ride Jezki, but as both are only just coming back from injury, we are a long way off deciding yet."

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