Mark Walsh in pole position to eventually land JP McManus job

I don’t know if Mark Walsh will ever follow Tony McCoy and Barry Geraghty as first jockey to J P McManus, but there seems little doubt he is at least in pole position.
Mark Walsh in pole position to eventually land JP McManus job

Indeed, there were those who thought, on McCoy’s retirement, that McManus might well choose Walsh.

But, do you know what, when McCoy finally drew the curtains on a glittering career it was a wise decision by the McManus team to turn to Geraghty.

It’s not that Walsh wasn’t up to the job, he may well have been. No, it was more about doing what was best for Walsh and not asking him to slot in after a figure as iconic as McCoy.

We know how difficult it is to replace a legend. The current situation at Manchester United, for instance, is a case in point.

David Moyes had been relatively successful at Everton for many years and viewed as the natural successor to Ferguson.

But, of course, he was essentially overwhelmed by the United job, Ferguson’s shadow had to be everywhere, and only lasted ten months.

Louis Van Gaal then took over from Moyes, boasting a rich pedigree, but hasn’t, thus far, done much better.

In appointing Geraghty, the McManus outfit went for a proven international rider, blessed with both the ability and temperament to handle one of the biggest challenges in the game.

Geraghty is 36 years-of-age and, as a National Hunt pilot, has to be regarded as something of a veteran.

But, as long as he can remain reasonably injury-free, there are a few seasons left in him yet.

Walsh, at 29, is seven years his junior, and has long been the go-to guy for McManus when McCoy was busy somewhere else. That scenario hasn’t changed with Geraghty.

What set me thinking about the possibility of Walsh eventually landing this massive job was his performance aboard a horse of McManus’ called De Name Escapes Me at Down Royal last Saturday.

This was an innocuous maiden hurdle and no big deal in the greater scheme of things.

Fair enough, but Walsh’s display was nevertheless seriously impressive.

Basically what he did was engage in race riding at its best from the third last to the second-last hurdle.

De Name Escapes Me was the 7-4 favourite, just in front of his main rival, the 2-1 shot Space Cadet.

What Walsh managed was to get Space Cadet into trouble on two separate occasions, with perfectly legitimate and highly intelligent tactics.

Space Cadet was left short of room to manoeuvre and, you could argue, that made all the difference, given there was just a length between the pair at the line. It was a measure of the growing confidence and maturity with which Walsh now rides.

It is also worth remembering he may have been champion jockey last season, but for breaking an arm and ankle at Thurles in February, when nine clear of Paul Townend and 12 in front of eventual winner, Ruby Walsh.

Was he always this scribbler’s cup of tea? Absolutely not, but I have become more and more of a fan as time moved on.

Will Walsh eventually gain one of the ultimate prizes in racing and be first jockey to McManus?

Replacing Geraghty, instead of McCoy, just has a more relaxing ring to it!

Isn’t it rather disappointing to see Gleneagles rushed off to stud so quickly?

The Coolmore public relations machine was out in force, prior to the Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland, telling everyone what an exciting prospect he was going to be at that pleasurable pursuit next season.

Yes, we know he was the champion two-year-old, is a son of the great Galileo and won the 2000 Guineas in England and Ireland, as well as the St James’ Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot.

But have no doubt there were plenty of holes in his form and he did miss most of the summer, essentially because of the ground.

When he did return to action, Gleneagles performed poorly, and that’s being kind. He made little show when sixth to Solow in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot last month and performed deplorably in the Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland on Saturday night.

Gleneagles didn’t want to know in trailing in eighth of eight behind the quite brilliant American Pharoah and excuses really do wear thin eventually.

Iron man Ryan Moore didn’t half gamble aboard Aidan O’Brien’s Hit It A Bomb at the Breeders’ Cup and what followed was one of the rides of the century, any century, and that’s no great exaggeration.

Hit It A Bomb had a very bad draw, but Moore solved it by coming from literally the clouds to get up close home.

You couldn’t really analyse his performance, no it was just a case of sitting and admiring what had unfolded before your eyes.

We were critical of Moore here recently, after he had ridden Found from off the pace to finish second to Fascinating Rock in the Champion Stakes at Ascot.

At Keeneland, however, Moore rode Found just a bit closer to the pace and she did the rest to beat Golden Horn.

I’m not aware as to how clever Moore is out of the saddle, but on top of a horse he’s some genius!

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Wednesday, November 24, 2021

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