Saturday 16 December 2017

Geraghty targets Aintree return

Barry Geraghty is targeting a return to the saddle in time for next month’s Grand National meeting at Aintree. Photo: Matt Browne/Sportsfile
Barry Geraghty is targeting a return to the saddle in time for next month’s Grand National meeting at Aintree. Photo: Matt Browne/Sportsfile

Thomas Kelly

Having endured the pain of missing Cheltenham through injury, Barry Geraghty is targeting a return to the saddle in time for next month's Grand National meeting at Aintree.

JP McManus's retained rider was ruled out of last week's Festival for the first time in his career after he suffered a collapsed lung and six broken ribs in a fall at Kempton in February.

The Meath man feels his condition has improved in the last few weeks and hopes to have a firmer idea of when he might be ready to return after seeing a specialist in the coming days.

"I'll have a scan in the next week and I should get a better idea after that," the jockey explained.

"Aintree is the target and it's definitely coming along. We'll see what the specialist says and go from there."

The Topham Trophy is the big handicap on the second day of the Aintree meeting and Willie Mullins is responsible for seven of the 61 entries for the contest run over the spruce fences.

This year's Closutton team includes Ballycasey, winner of the PWC Champion Chase and the Red Mills Chase at Gowran this season, and Haymount, which was third in the National Hunt Chase at last week's Festival.

There are 17 Irish-trained entries, including recent Navan winner A Toi Phil, who is one of three entries for Gordon Elliott.

The home team is headed by last year's winner Eastlake, whose trainer Jonjo O'Neill also has Go Conquer and Fort Worth in the mix. O O Seven, Gold Present and Cocktails At Dawn, which also holds an entry in the Grand National, could represent Nicky Henderson, who has won the Topham five times.

Other contenders include the Paul Nicholls-trained Frodon - one of five entries for the Ditcheat handler - and Robin Dickin's Thomas Crapper. Weights for the Topham will be revealed next Wednesday.

Alan Fleming's Cheltenham hero Tully East is likely to skip the National meeting and stay at home to go in search of more riches at Punchestown.

The seven-year-old was delivered with a well-timed challenge by Denis O'Regan and was well on top in the closing stages of the Close Brothers Novices' Handicap Chase.

Owner Barry Connell said: "It was great to see him do what he did and there's not a bother on him since.

"He was unlucky the previous year in the Martin Pipe (Conditional Jockeys' Hurdle) and sometimes you don't get a second bite of the cherry.

"Luckily we managed to get him in that race, he went into it in great form and it all worked out on the day.

"There's another valuable novice handicap at the Punchestown Festival, so I think that's the way we'll go."

Irish Independent

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