BY: Craig Simpkin
The decision on who to replace multiple-time champion jockey Tony McCoy with was one that JP McManus was never going to take lightly, and he’s finally plumped for the Irishman with so much big race experience in Barry Geraghty.
The legendary McCoy, who was crowned top jockey for an incredible 20 seasons in a row, hung up his whip in April after a stellar career. That left McManus, who is perhaps the premier horse trainer on the planet, with a tough decision as to who should fill those big shoes as his main rider. Many had tipped Geraghty for the role; he simply offered the nous and pedigree in the big races, having won the Grand National on Monty’s Pass and the Cheltenham Gold Cup on Kicking King and Bob’s Worth respectively.
But his loyalty to another top trainer, Nicky Henderson, had led many to question whether the popular Irishman would take up the role.
But when the opportunity to pull on the green and gold silks of the McManus yard comes along, you’d be mad not to take it. He’s been the leading National Hunt trainer/owner for eight of the last ten seasons, and offers Geraghty the chance to cement his own reign of terror over his fellow jockeys in much the same way as his predecessor. The BBC’s Cornelius Lysaght wrote that Geraghty ‘has been outstanding in an indisputably golden jump jockey era.’
And with the pair having enjoyed some success together already – most notably with Jezki in the Champion Hurdle in 2014, the partnership is likely to be a long and fruitful one.
The announcement of the Geraghty/McManus link-up has given rise to some interesting movements in various betting markets.
He can now be backed from 17.0 to ride the 2016 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner, and a naturally short 1.25 to ride any Cheltenham Festival winner for McManus in 2016. That last market in particular looks like a given.
But the bet that really catches the eye is ‘Geraghty to ride 100 jump winners in 2015/16 season’.
Now, the Irishman has already stated that he intends to save himself for the larger events, and so he won’t be putting in the groundwork on run-of-the-mill meets on a Tuesday like McCoy did. But to put this into context, McCoy once rode 289 winners in a season (a record), and recorded over 200 wins in his retirement season. With Geraghty’s ambition to take over a champion jockey well known, his price of 17.0 to win more than 100 winners during the next campaign looks outstanding value.