Barry Geraghty Sporting Insights - Grand National

Barry over the big ones

I've got a fairly good record in the Grand National and have been lucky enough to win it too.

Winning is obviously the biggest buzz of them all, but just the trip over those fences is a sensational experience.

2000 - Sixth on Call It A Day

I'd rode over the National fences for the first time in the Topham the day before but this was my first ride in the big race.

Alan King had just taken over from David Nicholson that season and it was his first runner in the race too.

I'd never ridden the horse but he¿d come third the year before so at least he had some experience, which was hugely important back then.

It used to be a bigger test as the fences were much less forgiving, so to ride a horse who had been over them before was a massive advantage.

It meant I could trust him and he gave me a good spin, finishing sixth in the end.

I was delighted with that.

There's still a great buzz and a sense of achievement of just getting round.

2001 - Fell at the second on Hanakham

Despite having a bit of class, winning the RSA as a novice, he came into the race as a 100/1-shot with a bit of a reputation for his jumping.

He didn't give his fences much respect so I knew I was in for a tricky ride.

Most horses would see a National fence and think, ¿woah, hang on a minute¿, whereas he just went into them like they were no different.

He galloped down, ploughed straight into the second and that was that, game over.

All I could do at that stage was pick myself up, walk back in and watch Red Marauder win it.

It was bottomless that day, so at least I came down on some soft ground!

2002 - Unseated at Becher's Brook on Alexander Banquet

I'd won the Irish Hennessy on him earlier in the season and finished sixth in the Gold Cup at Cheltenham, so I knew him well.

Back then, there was a fair difference between the inside and middle or outside of Becher's Brook.

You used to want to pull out towards the right to avoid the big drop towards the inside.

I went a little bit too far towards the inner and he nodded badly on landing and he unseated me.

2003 - Won on Monty's Pass

He was second the year before in the Topham and he really enjoyed the fences.

Before that he ran at Cheltenham and Jimmy [Mangan] felt that may have left its mark a bit, so the plan was to bring him back fresher for the National.

We skipped Cheltenham, went for the National and the rest his history.

I couldn't have dreamed for a better ride round.

I might have been a little closer to the pace than ideal because he wasn't guaranteed to get the trip, but there was less trouble up front and he just jumped and travelled so well.

We were near the front jumping the water with a circuit to go and travelling well.

His jumping was foot perfect, the ground was ideal and we were off a nice weight so I wasn't too concerned about being up with the pace at that point.

With about 10 fences to jump, Gunner Welburn put a bit of daylight between us but I was never worried and I didn't want to get into a duel up front.

I knew I had all the pace in the world and it was just a question as to whether he would get the four-and-a-half miles.

When we got over to the third last, where there are no crowds, we couldn't have been going any easier.

It's dead silent over at that part of the course and all you can hear are the thoughts in your head.

I'll always remember the brief few seconds where everything froze and I took stock of the fact I was on the verge of winning the biggest race in the world.

We popped over the last few, passed the elbow and I then took a look over my shoulder to see were clear.

I even had time to give a quick salute before the line.

2004 - Fourth on Monty's Pass

We had to carry 11st10lbs having won the race the year before and the ground came up a little bit softer than ideal too.

To compare it to the year before, I was there or thereabouts at the water jump first time round, but I could feel that we weren¿t going anywhere near as well.

Back in those days, the winner usually carried less than 11st.

We were the only horse to finish in the first eight carrying more that 11st that year, and were closer to 12st!

All things considered, it was still a great run and a good race with Amberleigh House winning it having finished second to us the year before.

2005 - 16th on Monty's Pass

We had one last roll of the dice and had a good spin round but finished down the field.

As soon as that race was done with it was decided to retire the horse.

He didn't owe anything to anybody and deserved his retirement.

2006 - Sixth on Puntal

He gave me a good spin and was a big price on the day at 66/1.

He was a small enough horse but he handled it well.

A little bit like Call It A Day in my first National, he just lacked a bit of a kick and ultimately faded in the last mile.

2007 - Third on Slim Pickings

The first year I rode him he obviously ran a big race to finish third but was just a little bit keen.

He jumped really well and just did a bit too much the whole way round so couldn¿t finish off the race as strongly as Silver Birch and Robert Power.

2008 - Fourth on Slim Pickings

I remember coming into the race having broken my thumb the day before so it wasn't the most comfortable ride!

I had it strapped up but had to go round with my thumb poking out rather than resting on the horse's neck.

He ran a good race to finish fourth but didn't have the same spark and couldn't go with the leaders.

2009 - Fell at the first on Golden Flight

This was my first ride in the race for Nicky [Henderson], who obviously hasn¿t won it before.

He was quite well-fancied and we were hoping this could be the one.

That hope was short lived when he came down at the first.

Unlike Hanakham (2001) who didn¿t give his fences any respect, Golden Flight was the opposite and just didn¿t take them on.

It was a big anti-climax and massively disappointing but that¿s the way it goes sometimes and the horse was fine too.

Mon Mome won it that year at 100/1 which just goes to show how unpredictable the National can be.

2010 – Fourth on Big Fella Thanks

Bar obviously winning it, Big Fella Thanks gave me the biggest buzz I’ve had around Aintree.

He was unbelievable round there - you could just ping fence after fence after fence.

The amount of scope he had was incredible and, in many ways, was the most exciting ride you could get in the National.

Sadly, I knew heading to two out, that the tank was running on empty and he wasn’t going to trouble the leaders.

2011 – Fell at Becher’s Brook on Or Noi de Somoza

He was a spare ride on the day and it’s always great to pick up a spin in the National, but this didn’t turn out to be such a good one.

He jumped the first couple well but I then took a really heavy fall on him at Becher’s.

I did by AC joint in my shoulder, which was a pretty painful experience.

2012 – Ninth on Shakalakaboomboom

Another one for Nicky [Henderson] and, unlike Golden Flight (2009), he jumped unbelievably well.

He just didn’t see out the trip, though, and was running on empty towards the end.

He never fell in the whole of his career and was still running in point-to-points until 2017.

2013 – Unseated on Roberto Goldback at the last

This was an eventful one!

The horse in front of us, Mumbles Head for Jamie Moore, refused the last and we ran into the back of him.

To call it an unseating would be a bit harsh, but essentially it was a pile-up and I actually ended up standing on top of the fence!

Still, we were well beaten by the time we got to the last.

Overall I had a good spin around but the ground was too soft and we were completely tailed off.

2014 – Pulled up at Becher’s Brook on Triolo d’Alene

He was a great horse. I won the Topham on him the year before and we came into the race with a fair chance.

Unfortunately, he struggled with his breathing a bit and I had to pull him up.

He went on to run in it again two years later, finishing mid-field under Jeremiah McGrath.

2016 – Ninth on Shutthefrontdoor

I had a good ride off him.

He was in the mix until around three out but faced out from there.

The 4m4f trip takes some getting and he just couldn’t see it out that day.

2017 – Pulled up at the last on More Of That

He jumped great but, when you consider he won the World Hurdle at Cheltenham three years before, you could tell he had just lost a bit of his old spark by that stage.

We settled in mid division and he took to the fences really well (just like his brother Eastlake) but lacked that kick to go on with the leaders.

2018 – Fourth on Anibale Fly

He ran very well, but looking back on it I’d say Cheltenham took its toll a little.

He ran a big race in the Gold Cup, finishing third behind Native River and Might Bite, and that just left its mark.

He did remarkably well to finish fourth as he didn't travel as well as I hoped and couldn’t find any more when we needed it.

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