Bookmakers stopped taking bets on who would replace A P McCoy a long time ago, but it was finally confirmed yesterday that Barry Geraghty has been signed up by JP McManus, jump racing’s biggest owner, to be his No 1 jockey.
The arrangement, however, will be slightly different, with Geraghty (35) mainly based in Ireland rather than England, where a large number of horses that carry the green and gold silks are trained by Jonjo O’Neill.
The Meath jockey, who boasts a fantastic big race record and has already won a Champion Hurdle on Jezki and a World Hurdle on More Of That for McManus, will cross the Irish Sea for the bigger meetings.
Geraghty was No 1 for seven seasons and rode numerous big races winners for Nicky Henderson, and the trainer still intends to use him when he is available, although Henderson conceded yesterday that this would be considerably less often than in the past.
He also insisted he was not looking beyond his own, home-grown, team for back-up. Henderson has Gold Cup-winning jockey Nico de Boinville, Andrew Tinkler and David Bass based in the yard, along with Peter Carberry.
Explaining the new arrangement, Henderson said: “The travel is a big burden, Barry’s wife has just had a third baby and it’s a great opportunity for him. It will allow him to stay at home more, but he will be over for the principal days, so we’ll still be seeing quite a lot of him.
“Quite apart from anything we have some nice horses for JP like Hargam, My Tent Or Yours and Snake Eyes.
“I have a strong band of my own jockeys. Three of them rode Festival winners in March, so it’s not as if they are not capable. They’re all more than able on the big scene, deserve their chance and my owners are happy.
“It’s been a great association with Barry, as it was with Mick (Fitzgerald) before, and we’ll see how it pans out.”
De Boinville, who has been with Henderson since he left school and was runner-up in last season’s conditional jockeys’ title race, won the Gold Cup on Mark Bradstock’s Coneygree and was handed the ride on Sprinter Sacre at Sandown by Henderson. At the time, Geraghty was still out of action with a broken shinbone, sustained at Downpatrick just after Cheltenham.
Tinkler won the Pertemps Hurdle on Call The Cops for the Seven Barrows trainer, while Bass teamed up with Kim Bailey for his first Festival winner on Darna.
Daryl Jacob, who has a retainer with Simon Munir and Isaac Souede but deferred to Geraghty if he was available last season, will also be in action for Henderson on horses they own, including the Triumph Hurdle winner Peace And Co.
Jonjo O’Neill, who first teamed up with Geraghty at Cheltenham to land the 2004 World Hurdle with Iris’s Gift, is expected to use Richie McLernon, who rode a lot of McManus horses even when McCoy was around, for the bulk of the owner’s horses when Geraghty is not over.
Geraghty has made a few failed attempts to return to the saddle after what was initially regarded as a minor fracture. He rode out for the first time yesterday without a problem and if he continues to progress he could ride at Bellewstown on July 9. (© Daily Telegraph, London)