Barry Geraghty will be hugely missed not only for his talents on the track but as a character off the track as well.
His legendary status is beyond doubt. Retiring with 1,920 winners, the fourth highest tally in Jump racing history.
Throughout a stellar 24-year career, Geraghty amassed 121 Grade One victories including 43 winners at the Cheltenham Festival. Only Ruby Walsh had more success at Jump Racing’s most vaunted stage.
As the statistics show, Geraghty produced the goods on so many of the biggest occasions. The ability to thrive under pressure and make the right decisions in testing conditions saw him become an enduring colossus of the sport.
On Saturday evening, Geraghty broke the news.
A big thank you to my Family Friends and Everyone who has supported me over the last 24 years tonight I am happy to say I am announcing my retirement.... I’ve been blessed to have had a wonderful career and I’m looking to what the future holds....🎉🤩👍🏻 pic.twitter.com/UoD5HKfN3k— Barry Geraghty (@BarryJGeraghty) July 11, 2020
Reflecting on his career, Geraghty told the Racing Post, “as a kid growing up, you’re dreaming of Grand Nationals and Gold Cups and Champion Hurdles, so to get the chance to ride in them, let alone win them, was brilliant.”
“I was fairly happy it was going to be my last Cheltenham. That was probably something you could see from my reactions on the winners I was riding”
“To sign off on the week by winning the County Hurdle, I was going to pull the plug on it there and then, but then I was thinking that Aintree or Punchestown or Fairyhouse could go ahead, so I had to wait.”
“But that was good because it left me with the time to reflect. I came to realise it was the right thing to do and that I was completely happy with my decision. I’ve been able to appreciate it since Cheltenham.”
Geraghty won five times at Cheltenham 2020 which was level with top jockey Paul Townend (only to come second due to count back on placings).
He won the Champion Hurdle with Epatante and perhaps the most stunning of all was Champ’s win in the RSA Chase. Geraghty at his brilliant best as he drove the tailed-off Champ home to claim top spot.
Jockeys past and present, trainers and big names in the sport showed their respect and appreciation for Geraghty.
The two greatest horses Geraghty has ridden according to the man himself is a tie between Sprinter Sacre and Moscow Flyer. They’re up there with 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.” he told Racing TV.
Sprinter Sacre captured everyone’s imagination and won the hearts and minds of all Jump racing fans.
Geraghty and Sprinter had an aura of invincibility about them. It showed in their performances together, during their 13 victories, they beat their rivals by an accumulative distance of 121 lengths that’s an average of 9.3 lengths a race.
The pair of them were unbeaten in 10 races from 2012 to 2013. They claimed seven Grade One races including the Arkle, the Champion Chase, the Melling Chase at Aintree and the Punchestown Champion Chase.
Before Sprinter Sacre, there was Moscow Flyer. The Jessica Harrington chaser was virtually unbeatable on his day.
Moscow Flyer didn’t destroy fields like Sprinter Sacre but had a champion’s mentality of never wanting to be beaten.
Moscow Flyer’s occasionally erratic jumping was well managed by Geraghty. Despite Geraghty falling five times on Moscow Flyer, the pair won a massive 26 career victories and 13 Grade One races together including the 2003 Champion Chase and regaining the crown in 2005.
However, the biggest win was the 2004 Tingle Creek. It was an incredibly hard-fought win to defeat the brilliant and younger rivals of Azertyuiop and Well Chief. One of greatest Jumps races in recent memory.
One of the best two-mile chasers ever run? Moscow Flyer fends off Azertyuiop and Well Chief.— Racing TV (@RacingTV) March 26, 2020
There was a crowd of 10,343 for the 2004 Tingle Creek at @Sandownpark and it sounds as if they all had an interest in the finish!#RacingTVFlashback pic.twitter.com/m9T0x7pPVV
The biggest victory in Barry Geraghty’s glittering career was winning the 2003 Grand National with Monty’s Pass.
The race every Jump jockey wants to win. Great jockeys and trainers have tried to win the big one but couldn’t manage it including Richard Johnson and Nicky Henderson; goes to show how tough it is to win.
Geraghty told the Racing Post, “It’s the race that is known the world over and it catches your imagination as a child.”
“I’ll never forget that moment at the back of the third-last fence, with an eerie silence and travelling as easy as can be, when I realised I was on the verge of winning the biggest race in the world. I was sitting as quiet as a church mouse – it was a nice position to be in.”
Geraghty is leaning towards a career in punditry and bloodstock.
Bloodstock is an area, Geraghty has already had success in. He bought Bobs Worth as a yearling, sold him for a profit two years later and won the Cheltenham Gold Cup on him five years later!
The Irishman is looking forward to spending time with his family, wife Paula and three children – Siofra, Orla and Rian.
Geraghty has a lot to look forward to during his time off. There’s one occasion, in particular, “I’m already looking forward to my Christmas dinner!”