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Geraghty will go down as one of the greats


RETIRED: Barry Geraghty

RETIRED: Barry Geraghty

RETIRED: Barry Geraghty

Barry Geraghty will rightly go down as one of the greatest National Hunt riders of all time.

One of six children from a horse-mad family in County Meath, Geraghty was never going to be anything other than a jockey. He got a taste for the sport at point-to-point and after switching to the larger equines, initially as a conditional jockey for trainer Noel Meade, Geraghty partnered his first winner under rules aboard Stagalier at Down Royal of January in 1997.

The following year he landed the Midlands National at Uttoxeter aboard Miss Orchestra, trained by Jessica Harrington - it was the start of a fruitful partnership that really hit the big-time a few years later thanks to the brilliant and hugely popular Moscow Flyer.

The Irish great provided Geraghty with his very first Cheltenham Festival success in the 2002 Arkle, before landing the Queen Mother Champion Chase in 2003 and 2005.

Moscow Flyer was the horse that defined the first half of Geraghty's glittering career, with the combination also landing two Tingle Creeks - his latter triumph over Azertyuiop and Well Chief at Sandown in 2004 cemented as one of the great National Hunt races of the modern era.

The day after Geraghty's emotional win on the then 11-year-old Moscow Flyer at Cheltenham 15 years ago, he claimed his first Gold Cup success aboard Kicking King. Tom Taaffe's star provided back-to-back King George VI Chases too on his jockey's rich CV.

In more recent years Geraghty has claimed a second Gold Cup on Bobs Worth (2013) and been associated with another crack two miler in the brilliant Sprinter Sacre - both trained by Nicky Henderson, for whom Geraghty served a stint as stable jockey from 2008.

Five Champion Chases, four Champion Hurdles and a couple of Gold Cups are undeniable evidence that Geraghty was a man for the big occasion. He bows out having won 43 Festival races in all - second only to Ruby Walsh (59) on the all-time list.

Geraghty's most notable triumph away from Cheltenham came in the most famous steeplechase of all - steering Monty's Pass to success in the 2003 Grand National at Aintree.

The Meath man is the fourth winning-most National Hunt jockey in Ireland and Britain - reaching the 1875-winner mark aboard Birchdale at Cheltenham in January last year, ahead of Richard Dunwoody and behind only Walsh, Richard Johnson and Tony McCoy.

During a golden era for National Hunt jockeys in Ireland - as Geraghty went toe-to-toe with Walsh, Paul Carberry and Davy Russell - he was twice crowned champion jockey, lifting the title in the 1999/2000 and 2003/04 seasons.

The sight of Geraghty cruising down the hill at Cheltenham will be sorely missed - as McCoy has said: "Jockeys like Barry Geraghty don't come around too often."