Barry Geraghty completes Group One double at Fairyhouse
Trainers Kerry Lee and Gavin Cromwell secure Easter Sunday Group One wins
Kylemore Lough ridden by Barry Geraghty jump the last to win the Ryanair Gold Cup Novice Steeplechase at Fairyhouse. Photograph: PA Wire
If the Kerry Lee-trained Kylemore Lough secured a first cross-channel success in the Ryanair Gold Cup for almost 30 years, Jer’s Girl’s victory in Fairyhouse’s other Easter Sunday Grade One for her trainer Gavin Cromwell was a resolutely local success.
The common denominator between the two was Barry Geraghty’s presence, just the latest brace of top-flight wins in the jockey’s star-studded career. But it was landmark material for both Cromwell and Lee who were landing maiden Grade Ones.
Cromwell’s star has risen steadily in recent seasons and the man who trains 10 minutes from the track admitted to “shock” after Jer’s Girl carried the colours of her new owner JP McManus to a resounding victory in the Irish Stallion Farms Mares Novice Hurdle.
The 3-1 favourite had 13 lengths to spare over the English runner-up Jessber’s Dream, a mare Cromwell got to closely size up just the day before in his other professional role as a farrier.
Jessber’s Dream had lost a shoe on Saturday when stabled at the track and the course manager Peter Roe revealed: “I rang Gavin to see if he’d shoe her and fair play to him he was quickly over to do the job. It certainly made for an unusual run-in to a Grade One!”
Racing’s most notable ‘double-jobbing’ farrier shoes Gordon Elliott’s powerful string and so is used to dealing with top-class winners but Jer’s Girl amply rewarded the decision to bypass Cheltenham and employ the weight allowance to four-year-olds.
“Her form is solid but you just don’t know about a juvenile taking on the older horses,” he said. “I wasn’t worried about the two and a half miles because the ground isn’t bottomless. But I’m in shock she’s done it so well.”
Geraghty added: “Her form ties in with all of the top four-year-olds and getting 13lbs from the older mares she was entitled to put up a good show.”
Kerry Lee entrusted Kylemore Lough’s Ryanair Gold Cup bid to Geraghty and reckoned his local knowledge proved crucial as the rookie trainer secured a first Grade One success in her first Irish raid with a horse she is “aiming for the stars.”
Formerly in charge of graphics for Channel 4’s racing coverage, Lee’s decision to step from behind the scenes and take over her father Richard’s training licence this season had already seen her claim plenty of the spotlight.
Mountainous’ Welsh Grand National victory in January was just one of a series of notable handicap victories but Kylemore Lough’s graduation to top-flight success represents another step forward in a rapidly burgeoning career.
“We potentially could be looking at anything next year. Where the ceiling is with this horse I don’t know. We will certainly be aiming for the stars,” said Lee who credited Jamie Moore for doing much of the groundwork with Kylemore Lough.
Moore is on the sidelines and Lee added: “He recommended Barry and his expertise paid off there. He was some super-sub. All this horse’s form is on soft ground but Barry says he isn’t ground-dependant.”
It was a first cross-channel success in a race formerly known as the Powers Gold Cup since Tickite Boo in 1987.
“He does it the hard way having to make the running but he’s got a huge stride. If you impede him in any way he can’t use it but he was able to use it today. Johnny just gave him a breather and kicked when he needed to and just kept going,” said the winner’s trainer, Sandra Hughes.
Forge Meadow earned more than double her €27,000 purchase price with a smooth victory in the €100,000 Tattersalls Sales Bumper and will now go to Punchestown for a Listed contest.
“She had been showing us she was useful but you don’t know until they do it on a racecourse and none of these had run,” said trainer Jessica Harrington. “She’s entitled to go for the Punchestown race now.”