Friday 15 December 2017

Honeymoon period over -- now for date with Mad Max

barry geraghty

Things have been relatively quiet on the racing front lately, but there has been no shortage of excitement in the Geraghty household. Last Monday week, I married my long-term partner Paula Heaphy in the Black Valley in Kerry, a beautiful spot just out through the Gap of Dunloe.

We kept it to family and close friends, so we had only about 50 people with us, and our daughter Siofra, who's four, was a flower girl. It was a lovely bright day with a blue sky that was perfect for photographs, which is the one thing you can't arrange in advance!

The whole occasion was really enjoyable -- Paula looked incredible, of course -- though my brother Ross did my good name no end of harm in his best-man's speech. In my youth I was in such a hurry to get on the road I might have crashed the odd car, and it was remarkable how vivid Ross's memory was when it came to my driving record.

It's funny, you would think January might not be the best time for a jump jockey to get married, but it couldn't have worked out better. I was suspended the day of, the day before and the day after the wedding (not by design, I should add), and everything was abandoned from Sunday onwards anyway.

Paula and I flew to Paris on the Tuesday with the intention of returning in time for me to ride Punjabi in the Welsh Champion Hurdle at Ffos Las on Saturday, but that was called off in the middle of the week.

The only sensible thing to do at that stage was extend the honeymoon, so we flew Siofra over with Paula's mother on Friday evening and headed for Euro Disney. Timing is everything, isn't it! The rides at Euro Disney were a bit different to what I had been hoping for at Ffos Las, but they were good fun all the same, and Siofra had a ball. All in all, it was great to see Paris and its incredible sights. It was cold, but sure we're well used to that.

We ended up coming back on Monday. Tuesday was just spent getting a few things organised, and it was back to the grindstone on Wednesday. I was up at 6.0 for an 8.0 Dublin-East Midlands flight, and from there it was on to the all-weather bumper card at Southwell.

My book consisted of six spins for Nicky Henderson, three of which won. Nicky's horses are in great form (the three that didn't win at Southwell were the only three of my last 10 rides for him not to), so I'm as anxious as the next man that a bit of normality will resume soon.

Putting on those bumpers at Southwell was a great thing to do, and not just because I had a treble either. Something needed to be done to get racing going. Nicky pointed out during the week that running bumper horses on the mucky ground that's going to be there after the thaw wouldn't be ideal anyway, so it was as well that they got an opportunity on the all-weather.

A few established jumpers, including Punjabi, could get a taste for it if Kempton's jumps card falls tomorrow, as a contingency Flat card for jumpers has been put on standby. It would suit me better if the jumping goes ahead, as I've been looking forward to riding Mad Max -- which is having his first run after a wind operation -- and Tasheba in their respective events all week.

Much as Punjabi needs a day out, he has more suitable options at Haydock and in the Toshiba Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown next week. Although he was beaten at Cheltenham first time out, he ran well and we knew he'd need the run.

As long as we get one more run into him before Cheltenham, I'd be happy that he'll have a decent chance of retaining his crown, but the Champion looks just as tight a race to call as it was 12 months ago.

Hopefully, Nicky will have Zaynar in it as well, so I may have to choose between the two of them. There's a lot of water to cross under the bridge before then, though, so we'll see what happens in the meantime.

As I write, it has just been announced that today's scheduled fixture at Huntingdon has fallen. Fairyhouse should be okay for Sunday, and I'm probably going to go there instead of Ffos Las. My book isn't finalised yet, but my Irish agent Ciaran O'Toole was confident yesterday that it would be worth my while staying at home, so watch this space.

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