Saturday 16 December 2017

Geraghty in hospital after fall at Kempton

Barry Geraghty riding River Frost at Kempton yesterday. Photo: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images
Barry Geraghty riding River Frost at Kempton yesterday. Photo: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

Chris Cook

Barry Geraghty was being assessed in hospital last night for internal injuries after a crashing fall from Charli Parcs, which had gone to Kempton to test his Triumph Hurdle credentials.

The jockey was thought likely to stay at St George's Hospital in Tooting overnight, having appeared to be kicked in the stomach by Bedrock as that horse passed over him.

"Barry's more important than what would have happened," said the trainer of Charli Parcs, Nicky Henderson, who had hoped to see a convincing success that would allow him to commit the JP McManus-owned gelding to the Cheltenham Festival.

After hearing from the racecourse doctor, Henderson reported of his jockey: "He has got some internal injuries, I'm told, and they have taken him to hospital. I don't think he'll be going home tonight."

That Geraghty had taken a knock was immediately apparent as he took plenty of time to get to his feet after the fall at the second-last in the Adonis Hurdle. The 37-year-old jockey raised himself to one knee and remained like that for some time before being assisted to an ambulance.

Geraghty has a fortnight in which to recover before the Festival, where his 34 career successes make him the second most successful jockey now riding, behind only Ruby Walsh. He has had at least one winner at the mid-March meeting in each year since 2002, when Moscow Flyer carried him to Arkle Trophy glory.

The jockey's injury was one of a number of difficult moments for Henderson on this day of Festival prep-races. His 10 runners produced a single victory, while Charli Parcs was one of two of his that were sent off at odds-on but failed. Cocktails At Dawn, Henderson's Grand National candidate, fell in front of the stands.

Charli Parcs doubled in price for the Triumph from 7/1 to 14/1 and it now seems likely that Geraghty will choose to ride Defi Du Seuil in the McManus silks in that race, assuming that both horses and the jockey are able to take part. Even before he fell Charli Parcs had looked in trouble, being driven along by Geraghty from the home turn, but he was fighting his way into the argument when falling and the trainer is not disposed to give up just yet.

"He turned into the straight and he's going to finish fifth or sixth and he's off the bridle," Henderson said. "By the time he got to the second-last, he was actually upsides and back on the bridle. But I really need to talk to Barry. The horse is OK and there's no point ruling anything in or anything out, if the horse is all right in the morning. The last thing in the world you want to do, as a prep race, is to go and do that."

Henderson's success came in the Dovecote with River Wylde, in which it was the turn of Paul Nicholls to be disappointed as his favourite, Capitaine, faded tamely away. River Wylde runs in the same colours as Lough Derg Spirit and one of them is expected to line up in the Supreme, the Festival's opening race, but the trainer and owners have yet to decide which one.

The brightest moment in Henderson's day came before racing started, when he galloped three of his best horses for a full circuit. Josses Hill, a Ryanair entrant, made the running but was made to look one-paced as Brain Power and Peace And Co shot past him in the straight.

"That's exactly what I wanted and hoped for," said Henderson, committing Brain Power to the Champion Hurdle, for which he is 8/1 fourth-favourite. "Brain Power was great. He's exactly where he wants to be. He's hardly had a blow."

The trainer was also gratified to see the 2015 Triumph winner, Peace And Co, settling nicely rather than indulging in the hard-pulling antics that have undermined his more recent efforts. He may now aim at Sandown's Imperial Cup on the Saturday before the Festival, with the possibility of another run at Cheltenham if all went well.

The low-profile combination of Neil Mulholland and James Best took the big betting race, the BetBright Handicap Chase, with the 25/1 shot Pilgrims Bay.

The horse was described as "quirky" by both men, explaining the exaggerated waiting tactics used by Best, who went for the lead two strides before the final fence and even then feared he may have gone too soon.

On this occasion, Pilgrims Bay looked resolute, though he dropped a shoulder soon after crossing the line and gave Best an undeserved tumble.

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