Geraghty hoping for King George success
Riverside Theatre & Barry Geraghty after winning at Cheltenham in March
(Healy Racing Photos)
The leading jockey has bagged just about every major prize in National Hunt racing during his illustrious riding career and has fond memories of the St Stephen's Day highlight having partnered Kicking King to win successive renewals in 2004 and 2005.
This year Geraghty again rides thrilling Ryanair scorer Riverside Theatre, second to stable companion Long Run in the rescheduled King George in January of last year.
"I was lucky enough to win it twice on Kicking King and it's a great race. It's the highlight over the Christmas (period), on both sides of the water," Geraghty told BBC Radio 5 Live."
Kicking King won the Cheltenham Gold Cup between his two King George triumphs, legendary five-time King George hero Kauto Star won the Gold Cup twice and Best Mate and Long Run have both won both races in the last decade.
However, Geraghty believes the two prized jewels in steeplechasing are quite different in their nature.
He said: "The King George wouldn't be the test of stamina the Gold Cup is, there is more emphasis on speed.
"This year the ground is going to be soft, so it might be a bit different, but a horse that wins the King George can generally travel well in a Gold Cup and either way it takes a classy horse to win it."
While most of us will be tucking into a lavish turkey dinner with all the trimmings on Christmas Day, the festivities are rather more low-key for a jockey.
Luckily for Geraghty, he does not suffer too many problems with his weight and he has no intention of starving himself the day before one of the biggest days of the campaign.
"If I have to do a low weight I'll go for a run and have a light dinner I would say. I don't usually miss it," he said.
"There won't be much brandy butter, I'll cut back on the dressing, but I'll definitely have something. I get a bit grumpy without my food!"
While Geraghty will be hoping he can take top honours aboard Riverside Theatre, who is part-owned by actor Jimmy Nesbitt, he is full of respect for fellow Henderson runner Long Run.
With old adversary Kauto Star now enjoying retirement, the Robert Waley-Cohen-owned and Sam Waley-Cohen-ridden seven-year-old is set to go off a hot favourite as he aims to regain his King George crown.
On Long Run, Geraghty said: "The vibes are good. They say he's improved from his run at Haydock (in the Betfair Chase) and he wouldn't have a big issue with soft ground, so he's going to be the one they all have to beat."
Peter Casey reports Flemenstar on course for the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown on Friday following a pleasing schooling session under big-race jockey Andrew Lynch.