Jockey Barry Geraghty in running for charity hurdle
There was a time, long ago in my early teens, when I briefly contemplated signing on as an apprentice jockey. And I could well have ended up there, at least on a trial basis, if my parents had not intervened and soundly advised me of the hardship and danger that this profession might hold for me.
Mick Webb, who at that time owned the local meat factory in Ballyhaunis, was convinced that I was born to ride horses after he witnessed me a few times riding, fearless and bareback, on a mare owned by a near-neighbour. He tried hard – but to no avail – to convince my parents to send me, for a trial period at least, to his friend, the legendary Tom Dreaper at Greenogue, Co Meath.
It was a recent meeting with top-rated Irish jockey Barry Geraghty that brought those memories of growing up in Ballyhaunis in the mid-1960s flooding back; days when I enjoyed nothing better than a good, strong gallop astride a Mare called Rose. Barry Geraghty is a man at the top of his profession, who I soon discovered also has a passion for running. Barry loves to run and can cover 10K comfortably in around 40 minutes. He will often run four or five miles in the early morning, about three hours before his first race of the day, and he finds this type of regular running great for keeping his weight on an even keel. Barry will often run in a full sweat-suit and he can sometimes lose up to three pounds on one of his training runs.
Barry rode his first winner on the Noel Meade-trained Stagalier at Down Royal back in January 1997. His progress since then has been nothing short of remarkable and he has been twice crowned champion jockey in Ireland. He has long been regarded as one of the leading Irish jump jockeys and will always be associated with some of the most popular horses of the past 20 years. Barry rode three winners last March at the Cheltenham Festival – an event that he terms 'The Jockeys' Olympics' – and also won the Boyle Sports Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse on Shut The Front Door on Easter Monday, one of the higher profile wins formerly missing from his impressive CV.
Of course the career of a jump-jockey is fraught with danger and Geraghty has had his share of bad spills. He has also seen colleagues suffer some horrific injuries on the racetrack and that is why he is a big supporter of the annual Jog For Jockeys 5K and 10K Run that this year takes place on the Curragh racecourse on Sunday, August 24.
This is a big annual charity fundraiser which helps injured jockeys, some of who will never be able to ride again. All money raised from this event is donated to the Irish Injured Jockeys Fund.
Last year Barry Geraghty finished ninth overall in the 10K event and first jockey home. Over 600 took part in last year's event, including many jockeys and trainers. One of the event organisers, Joe Osborne, ran both the 5K and 10K events, as did Patrick Malone from the Turf Club.
Barry is now in full training for this year's Jog For Jockeys and is determined to retain the title of first jockey over the finish line. This is a unique event with a special atmosphere and the inclusion of a 5K means that all the family can participate. The 10K will start at 11am and the 5K event at 11.20am. The jockeys will again be out in force to support their injured colleagues and you will need to be in good shape if you are going to be able to match strides with Barry and his colleagues.
This novel event welcomes walkers, joggers and runners – for more information, go to: www.jogforjockeys.ie
Health & Living