Barry Geraghty has been ruled out of the Cheltenham Festival, after sustaining six broken ribs and a collapsed lung following a heavy fall at Kempton on Saturday afternoon.
Geraghty was riding odds-on favourite, Charli Parcs in the Adonis Hurdle at Kempton Park. His mount was already struggling when a fall at the second last sent the pair crashing to the ground. As Geraghty rolled away from his writhing mount, a trailing horse couldn’t avoid the prone jockey and trampled over the Irishman as it attempted to catch up with the leading pack.
Sadly, Geraghty sustained six broken ribs and a collapsed lung in the collision. He was initially upbeat about his chances of being fit for the Festival – which commences in just over two weeks’ time – despite being kept in hospital on Saturday night. However, the news broke on Sunday that doctors have officially told Geraghty he will not be able to recover in time to take part in the festivities at Cheltenham.Geraghty managed to raise himself to his knees, as the jockey-less Charli Parcs chased after his Adonis rivals.
"I'm obviously devastated to miss the Festival," the 37-year-old said when speaking to attheraces.com on Sunday. “Last night was pretty rough. I've broken ribs individually before but never had six go all at the same time.”
"There were so many good horses to look forward to as JP's (McManus) team all look in particularly good shape."
This news will be a bitter pill for Geraghty to swallow, who sits just behind Ruby Walsh and A. P. McCoy in terms of Cheltenham winners and had ridden at least one winner in each of the last 15 Festivals - but for J. P. McManus, who employs Geraghty as his lead stable rider, this news will come as a massive blow.
McManus boast a particularly strong team going into this year’s Cheltenham Festival. Rich Ricci has been the name on everybody’s lips during the last few Festivals, but with injuries depleting the American’s ranks, the Top Owner honours at Cheltenham look like McManus’ for the taking in 2017, if he can find some suitable jockey replacements to ride his championship hopefuls to their respective titles.
Noel Fehily rode current Stayers’ Hurdle favourite, Unowhatimeanharry to Festival glory last year in the Albert Bartlett, before McManus brought the nine-year-old at the start of the new season. Reigning British Champion Jockey, Richard Johnson has ridden Defi Du Seuil to Graded victory once during this campaign. Aiden Coleman saddled Buveur D’Air on both his outings over fences before being aimed at the Champion Hurdle and Mark Walsh has proven a dependable deputy to Geraghty, when McManus’ horse have ridden over in Ireland.
There are several top jockeys who could step into Barry’s irons and ride Cheltenham Festival winners for J. P. McManus - who still remains a 1/4 shot with SkyBet
to be named Leading Owner next month - but to lose a pilot of Geraghty’s experience and quality is a blow to the owner and to the Festival itself, as another of the sport’s biggest names gets on the wrong side of lady luck and the 2017 Cheltenham Festival loses another star performer.