Barry Geraghty is looking forward to the next chapter in his life and career after announcing his retirement from the saddle.
The 40-year-old took to Twitter late on Saturday evening to confirm his illustrious career had come to an end, having ridden a whole host of big-race winners – including the Grand National aboard Monty’s Pass in 2003 and a massive haul of 43 victories at the Cheltenham Festival.
Geraghty feels injuries have finally caught up with him, and the time has come for him to call it a day.
“I’m 41 in September, and you can’t go on forever,” he told Sporting Index.
“I’ve missed 18 months of the last five years through injury, having broken both legs, both arms, my ribs, shoulder blade and a few other small fractures in between.
“The eight broken ribs and punctured lung in 2017 ruled me out of Cheltenham, and then the broken arm at Fairyhouse in April only 11 days after returning from the broken ribs were both tough injuries with bad timing.
“My last injury, the leg break on the eve of the 2019 Grand National at Aintree, was a real test and hard to take. It made me appreciate the importance of getting back into a scenario where I could go out on my own terms rather than being stretchered off.”
Geraghty revealed he had been thinking about bringing the curtain down for several months – and knew after riding five winners at the Cheltenham Festival in March he would not be in action again at Prestbury Park.
He added: “It’s not easy to come back from those injuries, but I knew that if I could I had a chance of going out on my own terms, so I discussed it with my wife Paula, and put that plan in my head early last season.
“I knew going into Cheltenham that it was going to be my last one, and that’s probably why I showed more emotion at the meeting than I had done in donkeys’ years. I needed to get a winner badly, and Epatante gave me the dream start in the Champion Hurdle.
“Then to go on and ride winners for the boss (JP McManus) on Dame De Compagnie, Champ, Sire Du Berlais, and being able to make my last ever ride at a Cheltenham Festival a winning one, with Saint Roi in the County Hurdle, I couldn’t have asked to sign off on a better note. We considered calling it a day then, but I would have been sick to be on the sidelines if Aintree, Fairyhouse or Punchestown went ahead.
“As things have worked out, we’ve ended up with another three or four months to think things through, and that’s helped me to confirm the decision that I want to call time on my career as a jockey.
“I’ve been able to take stock of everything, relax, enjoy the time off with Paula and our kids Síofra, Órla and Rían, and it’s given me a taste of what might lie ahead. Not having to be stuck on the roads, in and out of airports and just living life at a steadier pace has been nice.
“I’d be lying if I said I haven’t had some second thoughts, though, particularly after such a great Cheltenham – but I’m settled on it now and pleased with what I’m doing.
“I’m going to miss the buzz, for sure. You can’t replace the thrill of riding horses like Epatante and Defi Du Seuil, but that’s just part of life and I’m going to have to enjoy watching them from the stands.”
Five years ago Geraghty was appointed retained jockey for leading owner JP McManus, replacing the great 20-time champion Tony McCoy.
Geraghty said: “JP is obviously one person I had to speak to about it (decision to retire), but I’ve only been able to do that over the phone. It was never going to be a difficult conversation because I knew JP, Noreen and all of their family would be happy for me and that they would have my best interests at heart. They have all supported me so well since taking the job.
“He knows as well as anyone how important it is to be able to go out in one piece. It’s been great riding for him, and the quality of horses he has is outstanding. It was brilliant to ride five winners for him at this year’s Cheltenham Festival and try and repay him for all that he puts into our sport.
“He has a great understanding of the game and could just give you a tiny nugget of information or an opinion that would help you win you a race. One example was with More Of That in the World Hurdle – when he suggested that I follow Annie Power through the race wherever she sits – and he got it spot on. That was the case a lot of times on a number of different horses over the years.”
What the future holds for Geraghty remains to be seen, but he intends to stay involved in the sport in some capacity.
He said: “I’ve always kept a good few young horses here at home and I’ll keep busy working with those. I’ve done a lot of media work over the years, which I enjoy, and I’ve had a great relationship with Sporting Index. I’m going to be able to spend a lot more time with the family, and I’m already looking forward to Christmas Dinner!
“I’ve pretty much been a part-time dad for the last 12 years, where I’ve had to commute to and from England seven to eight months of the year, so it will be great to be at home more often, spending more time with Paula and the kids. It will be a big change, but I’m at that time in my life where it feels like the right call to make.
“I still very much want to be involved in racing – and although the buzz of race riding is irreplaceable, I’ll need to try and get some fulfilment by working with horses, whether it be here at home or riding out at yards, so I’ll definitely be doing a bit of that.”
When considering the best horse he has ridden during his glittering career, Geraghty says it is too close to call between Queen Mother Champion Chase heroes Moscow Flyer and Sprinter Sacre.
He said: “I’m still stuck in a dead-heat between Moscow and Sprinter – they’re two of the best two-mile chasers of all time.
“Sprinter oozed class and could destroy a field, while Moscow would beat a top horse by two lengths and an average horse by two lengths – nothing was going to beat him as long as I stayed on him, and he stayed on his feet.
“I’ve been very fortunate to ride a good few winners of the Champion Chase, Arkle and Tingle Creek – it is those races that I will miss the most, I just love them!
“Calling time on my career wouldn’t have been easy if I didn’t have that win aboard Monty’s Pass on my CV. Wherever you go in the world, if somebody asks you what you do for a living, the next question they often ask is: ‘Have you ridden in the Grand National?’
“It’s an amazing race, and to win it was a feeling like nothing else.”