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McCoy in support as Geraghty gets the gig in green and gold

JEZ THE JOB: Barry Geraghty guides Jezki to victory in the 2014 Champion Hurdle ahead of My Tent Or Your and AP McCoy. Both horses are owned by JP McManus and Geraghty has succeeded McCoy as the leading owner’s top rider
Keith Hamer

BARRY Geraghty has admitted accepting the role of number one rider for leading Irish owner JP McManus was not an easy decision.

Speaking for the first time since the news of his appointment broke, the 35-year-old revealed the job offered a better balance from a personal point of view as he has a wife and young family.

As soon as AP McCoy announced his intention to retire in February, Geraghty was favourite with the bookmakers to fill the massive void left by the 20-time champion jockey.

The speculation continued when McCoy finally hung up his saddle in April and ended on Monday with news that Geraghty had accepted the role.

Geraghty has been riding principally for Seven Barrows trainer Nicky Henderson since 2008 and the pair have won most of the biggest races on the calendar together, including the Gold Cup with Bobs Worth and the Queen Mother Champion Chase with Sprinter Sacre, both in 2013.

However, his new appointment means he will not have to commute to Britain from Ireland as often as in the past.

“It’s a great job to get. I suppose discussions probably started since Punchestown. I met up with JP last week and we discussed it. It fits in really well,” said Geraghty.

“Obviously I’ve done seven years riding for Nicky and it’s been brilliant. We’ve had some great success, but there’s a lot of travel involved and a lot of time away.

“I have a young family here and I think it might be a better balance going forward, maybe doing two or three days in England and have more time at home. It works well on a personal level.

“It definitely suits well but it wasn’t a decision I could take lightly.

“I’ve had a great time riding as first jockey for Nicky. We’ve had great success and a brilliant bunch of owners, who I would be very friendly with and going forward I would consider as friends.

“I have a great connection there and it definitely wasn’t easy to walk away from that.

“I’d hope to ride a good few for Nicky when I’m not required for JP when I’m in England. I’d hope to keep the connection going even when I’m riding JP’s horses for Nicky.

“JP has a great team of horses, likewise Nicky had too. I suppose it was a win-win situation, but lifestyle is definitely the strongest factor in it.

“I have a young family and had a little boy just a few weeks ago. It’s a busy house and to be away as much as I’ve been away over the last seven years, it definitely takes its toll. It’s good to have a better balance.

“I’ve discussed it with AP and I’ve discussed it with Nicky. I’m more than happy with it and I’m looking forward to it.

“We’re all in it for the big days. It’s nice to be riding winners any day of the week, but the big days really do count for an awful lot.

“The Irish Grand National was a great thrill and riding two winners at Cheltenham on Jezki and More Of That – that season was brilliant, so I’ve been very fortunate to have ridden some great winners for JP over the years.

“I had my second Festival winner on Youlneverwalkalone in 2003. I’ve been lucky to ride some nice horses for him over the years.”

Geraghty named some of the key horses he is excited at teaming up with in his first season wearing the famous gold and green silks.

“It will be interesting to see how My Tent Or Yours is after having missed a season. He was only touched off by Jezki in the Champion Hurdle, so if gets back to that he should be a big player,” he said.

“Shutthefrontdoor won the Irish Grand National and ran well in the English Grand National. He’s a horse for the future.

“Kitten Rock was impressive during the season and he should make a nice chaser. There is plenty of quality there.”

Geraghty has been sidelined with a broken shinbone since March but is now riding out again and is looking to be back in action early next month.

“I’ve been off for three months with a fractured shinbone. That’s been a little bit slow and a lot slower than I thought,” he said.

“I rode out yesterday morning and I was in with Gordon Elliott. I rode out three lots today.

“It’s getting there and I’d hope to be back early in July.”

McCoy believes Geraghty is the right choice.

“You want to give yourselves the best possible chance of winning and having someone like Barry on your side gives you that,” he said.

“His record speaks for itself and you don’t ride the big winners he’s had without being top drawer in every department.

“He’s got lots of experience, is good with people and there is a lot of class about him.

“Barry had a very close association with Nicky and I’m sure he would have found it difficult to walk away, but wearing the green and gold colours is the best job in jump racing and one very hard not to be interested in.

“There’s nothing else like it.”

Meanwhile, Ascot Gold Cup third Forgotten Rules could make a quick reappearance in Sunday’s At The Races Curragh Cup – providing there is sufficient cut in the ground at the Curragh.

Dermot Weld’s stayer lost his unbeaten record at Ascot with a combination of the two-and-a-half-mile trip and the fast ground put forward as reasons for his defeat.

However, having come out of the race in fine form, Weld would be happy to run him again quickly as long as there is some rain in the lead up to the Irish Derby meeting.

“We decided to leave him in and we’ll make a decision on his participation later in the week,” said Weld.

“As ever, he’ll need sufficient rain for us to contemplate running.

“He’s bounced out of Ascot well.”

Forgotten Rules would be conceding weight all round in the Group Three over a mile-and-three-quarters.

Aidan O’Brien has some interesting entries, such as Hans Holbein, seventh in the Derby, Bondi Beach, Ivanovich Gorbatov, Order Of St George and the once-raced Outspoken.

The Palmerstown House Estate Irish St. Leger could be next on the agenda for Tac De Boistron after failing to act on a fast surface in the Gold Cup.

Trainer Marco Botti is keen to steer the eight-year-old clear of quick ground after he was virtually pulled up in Thursday’s two-and-a-half-mile feature, finishing last of 12 runners.

Botti said: “Tac De Boistron is fine as he knows how to look after himself. Martin Harley did the right thing and looked after the horse.

“He hated the ground and you could see that as he cantered down to the start. Sometimes when it is good ground you can get away with it but it was extremely fast ground.

“The first race we might go for is the Irish St Leger as it is towards the latter end of the season and he should get his ground. Then we will look at the Cadran and the Royal-Oak,” said the trainer.

“These are the three races we have lined up for him and hopefully he will make it to them.”

Connections of Integral believe the fast ground at Ascot was to blame for her eclipse in last week’s Duke of Cambridge Stakes.

Michael Stoute’s five-year-old won the race last season and had gone on to strike twice at the highest level.

Sent off the 8/11 favourite against five rivals, the Cheveley Park Stud-owned mare finished fifth of the six runners.

“She’s checked out fine so we are just putting it down to the ground,” said Chris Richardson, managing director of Cheveley Park.

“She wouldn’t let herself down on it.

“We know she goes on soft and good and she had gone on fast ground before, but at her age she might have decided now she just wants a bit more cut.

“Her action shortened, you could see that, which is a sign that she wasn’t enjoying it. It was a disappointment but at least there’s nothing wrong”

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