Exports help Geraghty win US Champion Jockey title

Ross Geraghty

There isn’t a great deal of jump racing in America, just a meeting every week or two, or sometimes a couple of races on a mainly flat card. The 2012 season has just come to an end, and the champion jockey is one with a familiar name – Geraghty.

In this case, it isn’t Barry, but his older brother, Ross, whose biggest success in his native Ireland was riding The Bunny Boiler to win the 2002 Irish Grand National. This year he’s led the championship for much of the season before winning the title with just 17 winners. His father, trainer Tucker Geraghty, reflected on the success, saying, “We knew for the last few weeks he was champion jockey-elect because he was a few winners ahead and there weren’t that many meetings left, so we were watching his progress. There's just a small pocket of jump racing there, but there's good prize money in it. He's a lovely lifestyle over there in Maryland and it's a smashing part of the world.”

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Geraghty moved to America three years ago and has now settled across there. He rides mainly for leading US owner Irving Naylor, and has been helped this season by wins on several horses exported from Britain and Ireland to America, including the former Rebecca Curtis trained Black Jack Blues. This horse was second in the Welsh Champion Hurdle in 2011, and now, in his first season in the States has won the Eclipse Award for champion steeplechaser, despite racing only over hurdles there. He took the title after winning three of his four novice chases for Rebecca Curtis, though ironically, not the one in which brother Barry rode him, when he was pulled up.

Ross Geraghty has ridden Black Jack Blues to success in both his races since the horse arrived in America at the end of September, including the NSA Grade 1 Grand National Hurdle. With 10 wins from his 22 races in total, this was enough to win the horse most votes in the Eclipse Awards.

Via Galilei was already a much-travelled horse before heading across the ocean after a fifth placed finish in last season’s County Hurdle at Cheltenham. On the flat he had raced three times in Dubai when trained by Jim Bolger, before becoming a regular in Listed and Graded hurdles for Gary Moore. The son of Galileo is another Geraghty partnered to victory in his first race in America.

The move westward proved more of a challenge for another export from the Curtis yard, Corsican Boy, who took five attempts and a drop into claiming company to gain his first American success. A margin of 33.75 lengths suggests he’s rather better than that grade, but as Geraghty explained, he had been forced off the track in one of his early races. “I thought about it going to the first, but he didn’t. I just kept away from the wing. He was strong early and I just dropped my hands at the third and he backed off himself, popped it slowly and came back to me. It was going to be up to him to back off, from there he listened to me and once I was that far in front it was a schooling session.”

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