Meath jockey brews up stunning treble
BARRY GERAGHTY may not like being associated with the adage: "The old dog for the hard road," but in taking his tally for the opening two days to four with a incredible treble yesterday, one would expect he's not extremely pushed by such a comment.
The Meath rider proved once again just why he has such a massive portfolio of big race victories bulging under his bed as he added to it again with a Grade One treble for his boss Nicky Henderson.
Following on from Sprinter Sacre's blistering success on Tuesday, Geraghty steered the Henderson charges Simonsig, Bobs Worth and Finian's Rainbow to win the Neptune Novices' Hurdle, the RSA Chase and the Queen Mother Champion Chase respectively, bursting a few bubbles in the process.
"I love you Barry," cried a male voice from the winner's enclosure, with a tone that suggested the punter's better half will never be told just why he has such an affection for the jockey, although you can be assured sterling was involved.
Geraghty's record at Cheltenham is enviable for most of his weighroom peers. B J Geraghty is the man for the big day, hence the comparison with the old dog and the hard road, and despite having years left in him, he admitted, "if I was near the end I think I'd be sticking around for Sprinter Sacre and Bobs Worth!"
The Meath rider is now level with Tony McCoy on 25 career Festival winners, which is the second most in history alongside Pat Taaffe also, but still nine off Ruby Walsh. But you'd get the feeling, with two days to go, that Taaffe might find himself on his own with 25 winners come Friday afternoon.
Beginning with the two novices Geraghty won on, Simmonsig proved another great advertisement for Irish point-to-point racing as the recruit from that field claimed the Neptune Investments Novices' Hurdle in terrific style.
The grey was left in front two out when John Ferguson's Cotton Mill appeared to want to refuse, jinked and unshipped Denis O'Regan, but it would be hard to say that Henderson's 2/1 favourite would not have still won. Geraghty waxed lyrical about Simonsig afterwards: "He's just a real high-class horse. He has pace to come back to two miles, and when you have a horse with an engine you can go wherever you want."
Of the decision to run over further this week he revealed: "I just felt that if he made a mistake in the two-mile race you mightn't be able to get yourself back into it like you would over the further trip.
"I rode him the other day in a piece of work and I rode Finian's Rainbow on the next lot and this lad (Simonsig) made Finian's Rainbow feel like a four-miler."
Bobs Worth is a horse especially close to Geraghty's heart as not only did he give him a Festival winner last year in the Albert Bartlett, but Geraghty in fact bought him as a yearling and sold him to Henderson as a four-year-old.
Yesterday he faced the daunting assignment of toppling Grands Crus, but David Pipe's warm favourite could only manage to finish fourth as Bobs Worth and First Lieutenant did battle on the run in.
Bobs Worth came back to his best form according to Geraghty.
"He's a lovely horse -- Nicky robbed him of me as a four-year-old! He is game and genuine and he certainly likes the place.
"He had his wind done after the Feltham at Kempton as he went around there as if he had a bag over his head -- he couldn't breathe. So he had a wind operation and the Reynoldstown probably came too soon for him but Nicky had him spot on today."
Geraghty also claimed the feature race on day two as Finian's Rainbow won a dramatic renewal of the Queen Mother Champion Chase as he just edged out Sizing Europe.
The manner in which the last fence was omitted caused some controversy, and while it did somewhat peeve Geraghty, he picked up his third win of the day and his fourth in the Queen Mother Champion Chase.
"I had Sizing Europe covered, I felt, jumping the second last. Sizing Europe is a top-class horse and he brought us a good gallop, there was no quarter given, it was top quality stuff.
"You don't dream of coming to Cheltenham to ride any more than one winner. To ride three in the day is brilliant."
Henderson, who became the winning most trainer ever at the Cheltenham Festival, went on to have an incredible four-timer when outsider Une Artiste claimed the Fred Winter, with Jeremiah McGrath onboard.