Barry Geraghty Sporting Insights 31/12/2019

Barry Geraghty: Dipper Chase looks perfect race for Champ

2019 Ups and Downs

It’s been an up and down year. I had a fantastic double on the Thursday of the Cheltenham Festival, and that would be the highlight of the whole year, but I also broke my leg on the eve of the Grand National.

Hopefully 2020 is a good one, and I think my New Year’s resolution would have to be to stop breaking bones!

I’ve got plenty to look forward to in the New Year, most notably Defi Du Seuil and Epatante. Those are the two that really excite me heading into the New Year and hopefully they both turn up at the Festival with big chances.

As a spectator, Tiger Roll winning a second National was great and it’s also been a magnificent year for female riders.

The likes of Rachael Blackmore, Bryony Frost and Hollie Doyle have made it a breakthrough year and I think that’s great for racing.

Unlike other equine sports, like show jumping or eventing, women haven’t managed to have the same amount of success in racing that the men enjoy but it’s exciting to see that changing.

Cheltenham on New Year’s Day

Celebrations will be kept on ice until after Cheltenham. I’ve got a flight to catch early in the morning, so the New Year will be rang in by 10pm and then it’s off to bed!

The racing at Cheltenham looks as competitive as ever and I kick things off with Champ in the Dipper Novices’ Chase (1:25pm).

I jumped five fences on him last week before Christmas. He skipped up nicely, worked really well and felt great, so you couldn’t be happier with him.

On ratings Midnight Shadow looks the main danger. He’s getting 5lbs and has some good experience over fences.

I still wouldn’t say this is the biggest test to date for Champ but Cheltenham is a test in itself.

It’s one of the trickiest tracks in the country, especially for a novice, so it’s good to get him some experience of that.

Last time at Newbury he took a chance at the third-last and lost a bit of momentum, but then got going again before the last and we did it quite comfortably in the end.

He leaned left on the run down to the elbow and I had to correct him when I realised we were going slightly off course.

At this stage and with conditions how they are, the Dipper Chase over 2m4f on soft ground looks the perfect race for him.

You’ve still got to go and win them and you’ve got to put in a clear round of jumping. He’s taken well to fences but he’s still on a learning curve.

The only real tricky fence at Newbury is the fifth-last, but with all the undulations at Cheltenham you’ve got a good handful of them.

My other ride is Ok Corral in the big handicap chase (2:00pm).

He’s coming back in trip having raced in the four-miler at the Festival and then over 3m2f at Newbury.

The last time I rode him we won a nice novice chase at Plumpton and I did school him before Newbury.

He felt well then and there was no obvious reason for his below par run so hopefully he can bounce back.

He’s got Grade 1 form and he’d have a good chance if he can put his best foot forward.

Kalashnikov seta a good standard, Saint Calvados has some nice form in the book and it looks a very competitive race.

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