Barry Geraghty Top Five Cheltenham Festival Wins

With 43 Festival winners to his name, it is fair to say that Barry Geraghty mastered Cheltenham. The Irishman won two Gold Cups, four Champion Hurdles and plenty of other significant races at the Festival on several occasions.

We asked Barry to name his Top Five Cheltenham Festival Wins…

5th – Punjabi (Champion Hurdle 2009)

“I didn’t think I’d ever win a Champion Hurdle but I  knew Punjabi had a chance going there. He was 33/1 but he came third the year before and he was in really good shape at the time. He was flat to the boards all the way through the race, but I nursed him along and saved a tiny little bit and hung on to Celestial Halo’s tail really. I had one go on him at the last and we held on by a neck from Binocular, who was flying home and the red-hot favourite on the day. On a personal level, it was brilliant to win it. The margins were so small and if I had gone any quicker at any point through the race he wouldn’t have won, it was a balancing act to get right and it worked out really well.”

4th – Riverside Theatre (Ryanair Chase 2012)

“Riverside Theatre never travelled from the word go either. He won really well at Ascot a month earlier in the Ascot Chase and he hadn’t fully recovered in time for Cheltenham, he was never going and he just wasn’t jumping. We were on the backfoot everywhere and I threw the kitchen sink at him at the fourth-last and he came for me, I did the same at the third-last and he was very brave to come up for both of those. He got up and won by a neck from Albertas Run, who had won the race the previous two years. It was hard work but he responded to everything. 

“I got satisfaction out of winning races when there were decisions to be made and I got them right. At Cheltenham, you need to save and conserve a little bit for the finish because that hill takes so much that you need to have a bit left in the tank.”

3rd – More Of That (Ladbrokes World Hurdle 2014)

“ I have to include when More Of That beat Annie Power in the World Hurdle. He is the only horse to have ever beaten her, she fell when she was going to win the Mares’ Hurdle in her only other defeat.

“I went out to the parade ring and met JP (McManus) and Jonjo (O’Neill) and they just said to drop in and follow Annie Power, it was a brilliant tactic. Coming away from the third-last she was just on my outside and I got a brilliant run through towards the inner on the downhill run to the second-last and it just unfolded for me. Ruby (Walsh, on Annie Power) had to go round horses and he just used up a couple of lengths to get round the pack. When we turned into the straight we found ourselves upsides again but those two lengths that I had saved were the difference at the line. I got the best out of More Of That on the day.”

2nd – Bobs Worth (Gold Cup 2013)

“A little bit like Punjabi in a sense, Bobs Worth was flat to the boards. The ground was softer than he’d ever won on before, and he was struggling through the race, I just had to nurse him along.

“AP McCoy, on Sir Des Champs, and Sam Waley-Cohen, on Long Run, had kicked for home at the third-last and I couldn’t go with them so I just continued to nurse him. I was four-lengths down turning in, two-lengths down jumping the second-last, I was a length up jumping the last and then I won by seven. I knew coming away from the third-last that I couldn’t go with the lads so I just had to sit and suffer and try and play the long game.

“Bobs Worth really found for pressure and it was such a brilliant performance. I had Bobs Worth from the time he was a foal right through so he was a horse I had a great connection with.”

1st – Champ (RSA Novices’ Chase 2020)

“It’s hard to get past Champ in last year’s RSA. It was very similar to Bobs Worth where I was struggling at the third-last and had to nurse him along, but it was more exaggerated than Bobs Worth because I had more ground to make up. We were nine lengths down jumping the last and to get up and win by a length-and-a-half was brilliant. In my final year as well, to pull one off like that. There was great satisfaction in that win.

“I had to trust my judgement and track experience. If they don’t come off then you can look like a fool, but that day it came off and I was very happy.”

If you could go back in time and ride one horse in a bid to potentially change the outcome of a particular race, which would you pick?

“Native Dara in the 2000 Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle. He got beaten by a neck by What’s Up Boys. I was three lengths ahead jumping the last, What’s Up Boys was 12th jumping the last, and he did me on the line for my first Festival winner. I picked up more experience in those two or three minutes than I did in any other race.”