Barry Geraghty stunned racing late on Saturday night by announcing he had retired from riding.
One of the sport's most successful jump jockeys took to Twitter at 11pm to reveal he had ridden in his final race. His numerous big-race triumphs, spanning two decades, included a Grand National on Monty's Pass plus two Gold Cup triumphs among his 43 Cheltenham Festival winners.
His message, in a photo surrounded by his wife and children, read: "A big thank you to my family, friends and everyone who has supported me over the last 24 years.
Watch how Geraghty pulled the RSA Chase out of the fire on Champ
"Tonight I am happy to say I am announcing my retirement.... I’ve been blessed to have had a wonderful career and I’m looking to what the future holds."
A cool customer on the biggest stages who was invariably in the right place at the right time, Geraghty was a wonderful judge of pace and had few peers in a finish. He was universally respected by fellow riders and those watching in the stands.
The 40-year-old was No 1 rider to one of the most powerful owners in the sport, JP McManus, after succeeding AP McCoy in the summer of 2015.
He enjoyed many big days for McManus, despite some bad injuries, and showed he was as good as ever when winning five races at the Cheltenham Festival in March.
Fittingly, his final Festival winner was in the green and gold colours, aboard Saint Roi in the County Hurdle.
Geraghty was a guest on The Racing Years in April when he reflected on Sprinter Sacre and a memorable 2012
He also won the Champion Hurdle for a fourth time this year on Epatante, for Nicky Henderson, and produced one of the rides of the season to lift home Champ in the RSA Chase for the same trainer, with whom he enjoyed may great days.
Geraghty was associated with some of National Hunt racing’s greatest horses such as Sprinter Sacre, the outstanding two-miler chaser, and Moscow Flyer, who was brilliant in the same division.
He also enjoyed memorable days on the likes of outstanding staying chasers Bobs Worth, who he bred, and Kicking King. Both won the Gold Cup.
He was twice champion jockey in Ireland and is unlikely to ever forget 2003 when he won the Grand National on Monty’s Pass, five races at the Cheltenham Festival and was voted Irish sports personality of the year.
Early last year he rode his 1,875th winner in Britain and Ireland, moving him up to fourth on the all-time winners list.
Geraghty spoke to Lydia Hislop after winning the County Hurdle in March - his final Festival success
Like all jump jockeys, he also suffered his share of misfortune, including last year when he suffered another broken leg and missed riding in the Grand National.
His wife Paula, who would have witnessed his lows at first hand, will be among those relieved he has bowed out on his own terms.
Multiple champion jockey Richard Johnson was swift to pay tribute, tweeting: "Top man on and off the track. No man better on the big day."
It seems likely that McManus will have known of Geraghty's intentions for a little while and it would be no surprise if his new No 1 is announced soon.
He will not be short of suitors but Mark Walsh is a familiar sight in the McManus silks and you would imagine he is in pole position.
Happy Retirement Barry ,an amazing career. Top man on and off the track. No man better on the big day. 👍 https://t.co/ZKP8LLcpkD— Richard Johnson (@dickyjohnson77) July 11, 2020
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