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Barry Geraghty has proved his class at the Cheltenham Festival

 article about Barry Geraghty has proved his class at the Cheltenham Festival
We've long been aware of Barry Geraghty's champion qualities in the saddle, but he proved his worth in a major way at the Cheltenham Festival this year. On the first day of the Festival, we saw Geraghty steal the show in the Champion Hurdle, the first showpiece race of the meeting, as he rode the Nicky Henderson-trained Epatante to a convincing victory.

"My plan was to play her late and it worked out perfectly," Geraghty said afterwards. "Nicky's done an amazing job with her, she's flourished from Christmas to today. There's no better trainer of a champion hurdler."

While he was quick to heap praise on Henderson, the reality is that Geraghty is a jockey in the form of his life, and this was backed up a day later as the Irishman outdid himself once again. He rode two winners on Ladies Day, Champ in the Novices' Chase and Dame De Compagnie in the Coral Cup, as the gathered spectators got used to seeing Geraghty's name in first position as the thick and fast results came in.

It was the win with Champ that really got the Cheltenham crowd roaring, as Geraghty burst past leaders Minella Indo and Allaho to steal victory at the last. It was one of the most sensational Cheltenham finishes in recent years, the perfect example of the excitement the Festival throws up every year.

In that race Geraghty showed he has the ability to come from deep to win at the line, and in his following race he showed that he's just as comfortable riding the favourite to victory, as an expert performance helped Dame De Compagnie deliver in the Handicap Hurdle.

On day three, Geraghty notched his fourth first-place finish of the Festival as he claimed victory in another Handicap Hurdle, this time riding Sire Du Berlais. The eight-year-old 10/1 shot saw off a talented field including Tout Est Permis, The Storyteller and Relegate, but Geraghty once again worked his magic.

"I know he'd 11st 9lb last year, but even with 11st 12lb he had a chance," the jockey said afterwards. "The Storyteller was the horse I was afraid of. I had to push the ears of him most of the race last year, but he travelled great this year and I could ride a race and was able to deliver. There's nothing better than riding winners at Cheltenham."

On Gold Cup Day Geraghty made it a Festival to remember, riding Saint Roi to victory in a third successive Handicap Hurdle. It was a win that proved, if there was any doubt, that Geraghty was the form man of this year's Festival, and JP McManus was the form owner. That race gave McManus his seventh winner of the meeting at the time, as spectators and TV viewers became accustomed to seeing then famous green and gold hooped jerseys cross the line in first place.

For Geraghty, it was another moment to savour, and even a jockey as experienced as him still appreciates the unique joy of winning a race at Cheltenham. There will be many looking on in jealousy at Geraghty's success, those desperate to emulate the winning feeling the talented jockey got to feel several times at Cheltenham this year.


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