Miller saves day for Geraghty after flops
BARRY GERAGHTY endured two odds-on reversals at Huntingdon yesterday before rescuing his day by riding the winner of the bumper.
The Meath jockey travelled across the Irish Sea with high hopes of completing a treble for Nicky Henderson, but the trainer-jockey combination suffered a double blow early on.
First up was the shock defeat of 1/5 favourite Ericht in the two-mile novice hurdle. Despite holding every chance at the final flight, the Henderson hotpot could not get past Hughie Morrison's Cousin Khee (5/1) under Tom Scudamore.
"I couldn't believe his price," said Morrison, whose charge finished two places behind Ericht in last year's Cheltenham bumper.
"He has been disappointing this season, but he made a mistake at Bangor last time and Tom O'Brien looked after him. He's a nice horse and he might get a Cheltenham entry, but he definitely needs to sharpen up his jumping."
Worse was to follow for Geraghty and Henderson as 1/4 shot Problema Tic fluffed his lines badly in the novice chase. The hot favourite did not help himself with several sloppy jumps, but was still just over a length down on the Venetia Williams-trained Pentiffic at the final fence.
A former champion Australian jumper, Pentiffic rose to prominence Down Under in 2009, becoming the first horse in history to complete the prestigious treble of the Dominant Hiskens Chase, Crisp Chase and Grand National Chase (all of which are essentially hurdles) in the same season.
He damaged a tendon after running in a valuable race in Japan and had made two starts for Williams before yesterday's contest, in which he weathered Problema Tic's late rally to hold on by a head for Aidan Coleman.
It was Williams' 10th winner in a fortnight in which she has more than doubled her tally for the season, and the Herefordshire trainer had earlier won the conditional jockeys' handicap hurdle with Hohlethelonely.
Geraghty salvaged something from the day when Henderson's Brigadier Miller -- available at a generous 9/4 compared to his other two mounts -- floored Tim Vaughan's well-backed Special Mate in the finale.
Owner Henry Ponsonby said: "He's quite nice and the DBS bumper at Newbury in a month is an option."
Meanwhile, Oscar Close shrugged off some pretty unconvincing form figures to take the handicap chase by 20 lengths for Wolves 'keeper Wayne Hennessey. Neither owner Hennessey nor trainer George Baker were present, but conditional jockey Trevor Whelan had an idea why Oscar Close had shown such improvement.
"To be honest, he's not a very confident horse," said Whelan, who hails from Co Waterford and is based with Neil King.
"He got in too close to one when he fell at Ffos Las and wasn't enjoying it when pulled up at Bangor.
"We've done lots of schooling on him and we also got someone in who discovered his back was all wrong. He jumped really well on the final circuit."