Navan double gives Geraghty lift as he gains 'Tricky' ride
Cheltenham specialist Barry Geraghty, who can look forward to an enviable book of rides at the festival once more, got an ideal confidence-booster at Navan yesterday with a stylish double.
The Meath native is enjoying another fine season on behalf of his main employer Nicky Henderson and remains in demand from other leading stables, having picked up the spare ride on Aintree-bound Tricky Trickster for Paul Nicholls in Friday's Gold Cup following the injury to Sam Thomas.
Likewise recruited by John Kiely for Frawley in the Weatherbys Champion Bumper, Geraghty kept his followers happy and delighted Limerick trainer Davy Fitzgerald when producing a storming finish on Hellyhunter to foil Acapulco in the opening leg of a Jackpot that wasn't won.
Held up by Andrew McNamara until nearing the final flight, Acapulco seemed to have taken Hellyhunter's measure on the climb to the post but the in-form Geraghty prevailed by a head.
Geraghty had expended much less energy earlier when Our Gar turned the Kells Maiden Hurdle into a procession to follow up Saturday's runaway Limerick bumper success of Our Girl Salley for the same connections.
Third to Hellyhunter at Fairyhouse on his debut over timber last month, Our Gar produced a couple of splendid jumps in the straight to assert readily and Ann O'Neill's seven-year-old looks a horse to follow.
Geraghty, however, had to be content with the runner-up berth twice over fences later on, initially when the favourite Taravada was routed in the closing stages of the Irish Day Beginners Chase by Deal Done.
The featured Novice Handicap Chase Final saw Geraghty produce Naas scorer Jack The Bus with a well-timed challenge in the straight that was matched and then put in the shade by the improving Saddlers Storm.
Davy Russell allowed the 4/1 favourite to stride clear on the run-in to complete a hat-trick for Tony Martin's charge which had risen 22lb in the ratings.
JP Magnier warmed up for his mount on Shot From The Hip at Cheltenham by riding the winner of the concluding bumper at Navan. Magnier sent Aughaloor to the front over a furlong out and the Willie Mullins-trained gelding stayed on strongly to score by a length-and-three-quarters from Romantic Lead.
"JP wanted a ride before Cheltenham as he needed a bit of a blow out for race fitness and asked us to run something," said stable representative Harold Kirk.
"We thought he would finish in the first four and were a bit surprised but JP gave him a brilliant ride.The better ground helped as he's a Supreme Leader and he'll make a nice jumping horse."