It was sad to see Barry Geraghty announce his retirement from the saddle late on Saturday evening after a glittering career, which included 43 Cheltenham Festival victories.
His ride on Champ in the RSA Chase (below) must be up there with one of his greatest Festival rides and the 40-year-old was associated with some jumps racing greats, including Sprinter Sacre, Moscow Flyer, Kicking King and more recently, Buveur D’Air in the green and gold hoops.
Watch how Barry Geraghty lifted home Champ in this year's RSA Chase
Who will replace Geraghty as number-one rider for leading owner JP McManus remains to be seen, but whichever jockey is chosen, they will have big shoes to fill.
On to Monday’s racing and there is some competitive action across at the five meetings in Britain and Ireland. The three below should all go close and will hopefully boost punting funds for the week ahead.
This is a wide-open contest on paper, but Belated Breath looks over-priced at 10-1 back at a track where she has shown useful form at in the past.
Her form figures at Windsor read '313', and her third-place finish over course and distance in a strong handicap almost a year ago reads particularly well.
Hughie Morrison’s charge - who has been a model of consistency over the past two years – is now just a 1lb higher here and scored off her rating of 90 at Salisbury in September.
Her run in a Listed contest at Haydock on her seasonal debut should have blown the cobwebs away and drying conditions will be in her favour.
Champion jockey Oisin Murphy has guided Belated Breath to victory six times and is back on board for the eleventh time on Monday, and his mount looks poised to go close.
I will be kicking myself if Open Wide wins as I backed the six-year-old on numerous occasions last year. He certainly has the ability to win this contest, but is a tricky ride, and will need everything to fall perfectly if he is to get his head in front for the first time in over a year.
The standout piece of recent form in this race is Gallipoli’s effort in the Coral Challenge at Sandown in June where he finished just behind the first two home in the Royal Hunt Cup - Dark Vision and Montatham - and a reproduction of that effort will see him prove hard to beat here off the same rating.
Admittedly, the seven-year-old hasn’t always been the most consistent performer and he began to lose his way 12 months ago.
However, a string of below-par efforts led to plenty of respite from the handicapper and, despite recording a couple of victories this year, he remains 2lb below his last winning mark on turf.
He also remains unexposed over this trip having had only three starts over a mile and, although he has only been given eight days to recover from his exertions at the Esher venue, that did not hinder him ahead of his run last time out which came eight days after his victory at Redcar.
Love Dreams is becoming dangerously well handicapped on his old form and enjoyed an ideal pipe-opener for this contest when third on his seasonal debut. He looks the main danger, but may not be as good as he once was.
This consistent six-year-old has finished out of the frame only once in her past 12 completed starts and is worth supporting each-way.
John Long’s mare was a shade disappointing on her seasonal debut but bounced back three days later to finish third behind a well-handicapped rival at this track.
The big question mark for Magicinthemaking – who remains 2lb above her last winning mark - is whether she will stay a mile here as she has only once raced beyond seven furlongs and disappointed on that occasion.
That was over two years ago though, and her victory over 7f at Kempton last year provides hope she will stay an extra furlong though, as she kept finding for pressure and may need a shade further now she is another year older.
Hollie Doyle – who is four-from-eight aboard this mare – is booked to ride on Monday and a big run can be expected if Magicinthemaking sees out this new trip.
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