Shutthefrontdoor: the latest big race winner for Barry GeraghtyPICTURE: Patrick McCann (racingpost.com/photos)
Geraghty shuts out rivals to win first Irish National
Report: Fairyhouse, Easter Monday
Boylesports Irish Grand National (Grade A), 3m5f 5yo+
THE strongly-backed favourite and the red-hot rider proved an unstoppable combination as Shutthefrontdoor and Barry Geraghty scraped home in a heart-stopping finish from Golden Wonder.
Victory gave Geraghty a first win in the famous chase and was the latest highlight of a memorable season in which he was leading rider at the Cheltenham Festival, added two more Grade 1 wins at the Grand National meeting and then the Grade 1 Powers Gold Cup on Sunday.
Geraghty was riding only because of a ban being served by Tony McCoy, retained rider to the winner's owner JP McManus, but proved a wonderful deputy in steering the 8-1 favourite - tipped by Pricewise at 14-1 - to a second Irish National win for trainer Jonjo O'Neill.
Third place went to Saoirse Dun at 20-1 with Jamsie Hall fourth at 40-1.
A field of 26 went to post with Toon River leading for the first circuit. Then Clar Na Mionn led the field along relatively incident free until Mullaghanoe River took a crashing fall five out under replacement rider Nina Carberry.
Golden Wonder hit the front with three to jump, travelling strongly, but there were still many with chances at that point. Turning into the straight a few began to melt away as Golden Wonder held sway over the last from Shutthefrontdoor and Jamsie Hall.
It was heads down from that point on as Roger Loughran on Golden Wonder threw down a formidable challenge to land the €141,000 first prize only to find Geraghty able to deny him by three-quarters of a length with a nose back to Saoirse Dun.
Geraghty said: "Going to the last I knew I was going to get there. It means an awful lot to me to win this race, it's brilliant."
McManus added: "It's a great race to win so full marks to Jonjo, Barry and all the team at Jackdaws. It is a very special day."
Paddy Power introduced Shutthefrontdoor into their betting for next season's Crabbie's Grand National at 25-1.