Local jockey Geraghty shuts the door on rivals as he wins first National
HE is a local hero, and champion jockey Barry Geraghty provided the perfect ending to the Fairyhouse Easter Festival when he stormed the finish line for a home victory in front of neighbours, family and friends.
It was a day of jubilation for the community of Ratoath, Co Meath, yesterday as Geraghty pipped his competitors to the post to win the feature race, the €250,000 Boylesports Irish Grand National, on the second and final day of the meeting.
He claimed the title aboard Shutthefrontdoor, a horse bought at a derby sale at Tattersalls Ireland for €30,000 in 2010 by businessman JP McManus.
It was the first time Geraghty won the race and the overjoyed and emotional 34-year-old was welcomed to the parade ring by raucous applause from the crowds.
"I like to win a big local one, it's been a long time coming," a triumphant Geraghty said.
"I've had plenty of good rides over the years but none of them delivered or even nearly did. He travelled brilliantly, though, and battled well. It was a fantastic race, hard fought."
It was a family occasion for the jockey, with his parents as well as his wife Paula and their daughter Siofra (8) and two-year-old Orla proudly looking on as Geraghty was met by a gallant reception from revellers.
"We're just so delighted for him, we live only up the road in Ratoath, so to win the big race here is extremely special for us all," Paula Geraghty told the Irish Independent.
"It really is the icing on the cake for Barry, it honestly couldn't get any better," she added.
Victorious owner McManus also commended the jockey for his efforts on the track, while trainer Jonjo O'Neill noted that Shutthefrontdoor had earned himself a "good rest" following his outstanding performance.
Footfall was high thanks to the fine weather, with a total of 16,253 people spilling through the turnstiles yesterday to take in the sporting action.
While racegoers were riding high, it was a tough day for the bookmakers, who took a beating when the crowd favourite came in at 8/1. "Shutthefrontdoor was the worst result on our books by some distance and punters couldn't have hoped for a better way to round off the Bank Holiday weekend," a Paddy Power spokesperson said.
"Easter Sunday may have belonged to the bookies but there's little doubt that today's resurrection has put Irish Fairyhouse punters in the black."
A number of well-known people attended the two-day event including Leinster's Eoin Reddan and Ryanair boss and horse owner Michael O'Leary.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny presented the big race prize; FG's Helen McEntee and Mairead McGuinness were also there.
Former rugby star Shane Byrne, model Rosanna Davison, Bill Cullen and partner Jackie Lavin also attended.