Barry Geraghty was in an elite jockeys’ club as winner – at least once – of the full house of Grand National, Cheltenham Gold Cup, Champion Hurdle and Queen Mother Champion Chase. Here, PA recalls six of the best horses he rode in his stellar career:
The dual Champion Chase winner captured the heartfelt imagination of the nation. Geraghty was on board when Nicky Henderson’s ‘black aeroplane’ was at his very best in a 10-race unbeaten stretch which included a breath-taking novice campaign and culminated with victories in the Queen Mother, Aintree’s Melling Chase and the Champion Chase at Punchestown in the space of six weeks in 2013.
Long before Sprinter Sacre, Geraghty already knew what it was like to ride an outstanding two-mile chaser – courtesy of Moscow Flyer. Jessica Harrington’s winning machine could be clumsy occasionally, and parted company with Geraghty five times. In his pomp, though, Moscow Flyer was virtually unbeatable – and as well as his two Champion Chase wins, his hard-fought 2004 Tingle Creek success from great rivals Azertyuiop and Well Chief is still remembered as one of the great chasing spectacles of all time.
The racing fraternity remains to an extent divided on the merits of Buveur D’Air’s two Champion Hurdle wins. But no one can say Henderson’s star was not at the very least superior to all available rivals for two years running – with Geraghty on board for his second title, a neck verdict over Melon in 2018. They teamed up for four other Grade One wins too, with Buveur D’Air’s low and slick hurdling technique a constant asset.
Geraghty took over on Kicking King after his two initial bumper runs, and rode him in all 26 of his remaining races. They included the blue-chip double of King George and Gold Cup in a near perfect 2004/05 campaign, and Tom Taaffe’s chaser returned to win the Boxing Day showpiece for a second successive season – showing his versatility by doing so in a renewal transferred from Kempton to Sandown.
Jonjo O’Neill’s grey got the better of the great French champion Baracouda as he and Geraghty won the 2004 Stayers’ Hurdle at Cheltenham. It was a tremendous performance to floor the odds-on favourite, who had beaten then novice Iris’s Gift 12 months earlier and was bidding for his Festival hat-trick. A month later, Geraghty and Iris’s Gift went on to win at Aintree for the second year running.
Geraghty has often pointed out that the one race the wider world cares about is the Grand National – and he put that on his CV early on, thanks to Monty’s Pass. As National wins go, it was a seamless success too for Jimmy Mangan’s brilliant jumper. Stamina was far from assured, but Monty’s Pass had shown when second in the previous year’s Topham that the famous Aintree obstacles held no fear for him. On his return, he led at the second last and won by 12 lengths. Monty’s Pass finished fourth a year later and concluded his career by conquering the fences again, under Geraghty of course, a fourth time – albeit in 16th in 2005.