Barry Geraghty became a familiar sight on our TV screens during this year’s Cheltenham Festival, frequently being interviewed as the winner of a whole host of different races, and the biggest compliment that can be paid to him is that it was no surprise to see him enjoying such success. A man with a smile and a penchant for quick quips, Geraghty has delighted horse racing fans for years with his charming personality and talent in the saddle.
It came as sad news, then, when Geraghty recently announced that he was hanging up his jodhpurs and retiring as a professional jockey at the age of 40. It brings an end to a long and successful career at the top of the sport, with an abundance of significant wins and titles to his name. He leaves the sport with a similar abundance of good memories.
“I’ve fulfilled all my dreams,” said Geraghty. “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 rode great horses, but I rode for great people as well.”
Five Wins at Cheltenham
Perhaps it’s fitting that his retirement comes in the wake of such a fine performance at Cheltenham, where Geraghty rode five winners from 11 rides. It made it 43 wins in total at the Prestbury Park showpiece, and his career is one highly decorated with a glittering array of famous victories. For anyone betting on horse racing, Geraghty’s name was always one to consider.
He rode his first winner as a professional jockey in 1997, and 23 years later his win tally stands at an impressive 1,920 – a mammoth achievement when you think about the dedication and consistency it takes to post such figures. Across his 24-year professional career, that number averages out at about 80 wins a season. Not bad going by anyone’s standards.
There was a moment last year when Geraghty thought his career might have been set for a premature ending, when a fall at Aintree left him in agony and fearing he would not be able to go out on his own terms. But the resilient Irishman made a full recovery and before long he was riding winners once more.
Geraghty to Continue in Sport
Where Geraghty goes next is anyone’s guess, though he has stated he intends to continue working on his bloodstock business, and he has also hinted that some media punditry may be on the cards, which would no doubt delight his masses of fans in the horse racing world.
Geraghty has won just about all there is to win in jumps racing, and though a British Champion Jockey title eluded him – mainly due to having a certain AP McCoy at the peak of his powers alongside him – he leaves the sport with no regrets, and a place in the annals of the sport’s true greats.
To learn that Geraghty had made peace with his decision to retire before the 2020 Cheltenham Festival adds an extra degree of poignancy to his success there, and the fact that he made it such a memorable Festival for himself is proof of his enduring quality in the saddle. There is something freeing about knowing it’s your final hit, and Geraghty knew it was his last dance at Prestbury Park:
“I was fairly happy it was going to be my last Cheltenham, and that was probably something you could see from my reactions on the winners I was riding – I knew this was the lap of honour.”