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Sunday, 16 December, 2018

Geraghty hoping River will flow as he seeks first Galway Hurdle win

Richard Forristal on a notable gap in the big-race jockey's CV

Barry Geraghty, Joseph O'Brien and JP McManus combine for Tigris River in the Guinness Galway Hurdle
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Should Barry Geraghty eventually retire without either the Galway Plate or Hurdle to his name, they will hardly constitute omissions that would undermine his glorious big-race roll of honour.

Whenever he hangs up his boots, the focus of attention will rightly be on his many victories in Gold Cups, Champion Hurdles, Champion Chases and Grand Nationals, not to mention his champion jockey titles.

The first of those came in 2000 and 13 years have passed since his second. Geraghty has also had 13 fruitless mounts in the Guinness Galway Hurdle.

His legacy is assured regardless, but at this moment in time nothing will matter more to him than not adding to those unlucky 13.

And he has been unlucky. Geraghty first rode in Thursday's €300,000 showpiece 18 years ago. On his second attempt, in 2002, he finished second to Say Again on Dermot Weld's Mutakarrim.

That remains as close as he has come, and he turned down the winning ride aboard Mick Winters’ Missunited in 2013, instead opting to partner Ted Veale for Tony Martin.

The following year, Martin, Sir Anthony McCoy and JP McManus won the race with Thomas Edison. In 2015, with McCoy retired and Geraghty elected, he was on Thomas Edison.

Alas, they crashed out in dramatic style when challenging at the final flight, although Martin won the race anyway with Quick Jack. In 2016 Geraghty missed Galway entirely due to a broken arm, but maybe the winds are now changing.

McManus's magnificent seven

He returned from his latest broken arm on Monday to win on his first ride back aboard Joseph O’Brien's McManus-owned Le Richebourg, and the same trio were again among the winners with Housesofparliament on Tuesday.

In the Galway Hurdle the 37-year-old has had to choose between several McManus runners - one of which represents a four-strong British raid - that are guaranteed a take part, although while seven will carry the famous gold and green, Geraghty would not be able to do the weight on a couple at least.

He has opted for Tigris River with Thomas Edison among those passed over. A promising fifth in 2016, Tigris River has an obvious chance.

There would also be some neat symmetry were either of O'Brien's contenders – Plinth is the other – to prevail on the 20th anniversary of his father Aidan's sole triumph with Toast The Spreece.

Lest we forget, 1997 victor Toast The Spreece was ridden by a young McCoy, who still plays such a vital role in the McManus operation.

Incidentally, Ruby Walsh also took 18 years to plunder the Galway Hurdle, finally doing so when excelling in 2016 on Clondaw Warrior, who is part-owned by his wife Gillian. 

Walsh's sister Katie partners the topweight this time with older brother preferring Max Dynamite of Willie Mullins’ quartet. The 2015 Melbourne Cup runner-up hasn't run since flopping in last year's Gold Cup at Royal Ascot.

Indeed, Max Dynamite hasn't run over hurdles since chasing home Quick Jack in this event and he has been beaten in six of his seven hurdle starts. To win here off a 413-day layoff would be quite a coup.

Timiyan's time to shine

Gordon Elliott will saddle three in his quest to win the race for a first time with McManus’s Timiyan not among Geraghty's options due to his low weight. Aidan Coleman fills in on a horse that cost McManus the princely sum of €470,000 in 2014.

He subsequently struggled to justify that price tag for Dermot Weld, but has impressed in two starts for Elliott, and while few would begrudge the trainer a breakthrough win, success for Timiyan would be a nasty sting in the tail for Weld given his travails this week.

Of those with more romantic potential, Swamp Fox will seek to become the fourth horse to win Monday's amateur riders' feature and the Galway Hurdle in different years.

Joe Murphy's charge emerged with credit in defeat earlier in the week when failing by just a couple of lengths to retain his crown. He is now reunited with Barry Browne, who has turned professional since last year's famous triumph and is three from four on the five-year-old.

They combined to win hurdle races at Ballinrobe and Killarney en route to Ballybrit so it could it be dangerous to underestimate them.

Winter's wonderland

There certainly isn't much danger of anyone underestimating Winter. The brilliant filly has been a revelation since joining Ballydoyle, and only the sensational Enable has done more for the Classic generation.

In the Qatar Nassau Stakes at Goodwood, Winter seeks to go some way towards emulating what John Gosden's star did so emphatically at Ascot on Saturday by trumping her elders.

Ryan Moore's mount has no colts to beat Gosden's Shutter Speed is among the non-runners due to the softening ground.

Still, those omissions are unlikely to undermine Winter's feats if she does prevail. Her big-race roll of honour might not be as long or diverse as Geraghty’s, but a fourth successive Group 1 in the space of three months would make for a pretty glorious legacy in itself.

Read exclusive previews of Galway and Glorious Goodwood from 6pm daily on

While few would begrudge Elliott a breakthrough win, success for Timiyan would be a nasty sting in the tail for Weld, given his travails this week
E.W. Terms
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