The Meath man arrived at the track yesterday without a winner this week, but quickly took care of that problem in the first race when Defi Du Seuil jumped like a stag to overhaul Lostintranslation to take the JLT Novices Chase.
Geraghty only had to wait 40 minutes to double his tally when he rode another peach on the well-supported JP McManus horse, Sire Du Berlais, who at 4/1 was a surprisingly short price in one of the season’s most inscrutable handicaps.
The winner had an unusual profile for a favourite, having secured just one victory in his career and that was in France three years ago. In his three races leading up to the festival he was eighth twice and then a running on sixth at Leopardstown at Christmas. That last run was significant as it was a qualifier for yesterday’s race and only the first six home there got into the final. The winner that day was Cuneo who looked to do so again on the approach to the last but a slow jump and an eight-pound weight swing in favour of Sire Du Berlais doomed Rachel Blackmore’s mount to fourth.
Frosty the Snow-Woman
We are rightly proud in Ireland of the careers of women national hunt jockeys, pioneered by Nina Carberry and Katie Walsh and now sustained professionally by Rachael Blackmore who has taken things to a new level.
Rachael prefers the gender free analysis, content to rely on her merits as a jockey only, but in Britain they tend to gush a little more than us about this sort of thing.
Bryony Frost rode an excellent race to win the Ryanair Chase. She let Frodon do what Frodon does out in front and stayed as cool as ice when the charge from behind came between the last two fences to hold on for the first Grade One win by a professional female jockey at the festival.
Bryony is a very ebullient, pleasant and talkative individual and was enjoying the full-on media attention long after the finish of the subsequent contest, the Stayers Hurdle, thanking all and sundry for their part in her journey with the verve of an Oscar winner. The sport needs many more role models like Bryony who brings a real feelgood factor to her work.
The Feelgood Factor
Speaking of feelgood factors, and even though he beat Faugheen, there was nobody at Cheltenham yesterday, apart from the bookies, that wasn’t genuinely overjoyed when Paisley Park won the Stayers hurdle for trainer Emma Lavelle and owner, Andrew Gemmell who is blind since birth.
His story has been well and often told, but it should be added that any man who is cool enough to call his horse after Prince’s recording studios deserves all the success and happiness that comes to him. Paisley Park looks the sort that could win this race again, as he emulates the likes of Inglis Drever and Big Bucks in his style of running. Going nowhere half a mile out and then flies up the hill like a five-furlong sprinter to win handily.
Almost three lengths behind Paisley Park in second was Sam Spinner ridden by Joe Colliver.
Poor old Joe has been making some bad decisions recently, and although he was exhilarated with Sam Spinner’s performance, grim reality is about to bite again.
Colliver was jailed for ten months in 2016 when he was caught paying a friend to take the rap on a drink driving charge so he could avoid career damage. Unfortunately, he now faces new drink driving charges and was due to appear in court yesterday. Happily, the judge was either merciful, a racing fan or both, so a postponement of the case was readily agreed to allow him ride in yesterday’s race.
Colliver has been wonderfully supported through his difficulties by Sam Spinner’s trainer, Jedd O’Keefe, who by the sound of things is still strongly at his shoulder. “He is a smashing lad, very good with our staff and very good with our clients,” he said of his 27-year-old jockey.
“I have known him since he was 16. We will just have to see how this all works out.”
Almost every horse that had good cause to win in any of the first five races yesterday did so and the winner of the last, Any Second Now, owned by JP McManus, ridden by Derek O’Connor and trained by the popular Ted Walsh was also very well backed. Three favourites and three second favourites. Gambles were landed, popular connections won, satchels emptied.
After a poor first day and another battering yesterday, the bookies will need a cracking Friday to balance the week and with the Paddy Power share price also down about 10% in the last ten days, the poor souls could do with some respite. The sixth race was the only win for the layers. Willie Mullins trained the first two and Gordon Elliot the third and fourth so you might have expected more bookie carnage. Not so.
The starting prices were 50, 66, 40 and 25/1 and mystified punters stood scratching their heads wondering how they let that happen.
Luckily, the tri-cast on The Tote paid over 73 grand for a pound so at least someone was happy.
The obvious consensus among the begrudgers was that anybody daft enough to risk a quid on that result clearly knows nothing about horse racing.