Barry Geraghty’s Punchestown target

Barry Geraghty expects to find out on Tuesday if the Punchestown Festival is a realistic target for his comeback from a broken leg.

Geraghty will miss the Crabbie’s Grand National for the first time since 2000 after suffering a hairline fracture of his shin bone in a fall at Downpatrick on Sunday.

Leading rider at the Aintree meeting since 2011, Geraghty also won the National itself in 2003 with Monty’s Pass.

While Aintree and Fairyhouse’s Irish Grand National meeting are off the agenda, Geraghty hopes to find out from his specialist that Punchestown, which begins on April 28, is achievable.

Writing on his www.attheraces.com blog, Geraghty said: “Well, my luck finally ran out and for the first time in 16 years I won’t be lining up for the Crabbie’s Grand National at Aintree.

“A broken shin bone at Downpatrick on Sunday means that an uninterrupted run of 15 National rides now comes to an end.

“It means that I’ll be missing some good rides over the three-day Festival but I’ve been very lucky because I know well enough that in my job you dodge plenty if bullets and eventually you’re going to be hit by one.

“I’ll be going to see my specialist, Mr Kenny, on Tuesday morning and I’ll be a bit wiser after that as to when I’ll get back but I’ll stick to his opinion and won’t rush things.

“He’s very good and will tell me yes or no as to whether the Punchestown Festival is a realistic target.”

Meanwhile Dermot Weld will pledge his allegiances to Davy Russell if both the jockey and Windsor Park appear at the Punchestown Festival.

Windsor Park was a superb winner of the Neptune at Cheltenham earlier this month, and might again test his powers at the top level at the big five-day fixture at the County Kildare circuit.

The six-year-old gelding could, however, swerve Punchestown altogether and be preserved for a run on the Flat ahead of a possible assault at the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot.

Russell’s situation is also not straightforward after the rider suffered a broken arm at Gowran on Saturday.

Hopes are high he will return to action in time for Punchestown, but a difficult weekend for the jockey saw him lose the ride on last season’s Cheltenham Gold Cup winner, Lord Windermere, reportedly at the request of trainer Jim Culloty.

Windsor Park is, like Lord Windermere, owned by Dr Ronan Lambe, but his trainer is adamant Russell will continue his association with the horse over jumps.

Weld said: “No decision has been taken on where the horse will appear next.

“There are two possibilities – he could run in one of the two Grade One novice events at Punchestown, in which case Davy Russell will ride if he is available, or there’s every possibility he could run in a conditions race on the Flat.

“A decision will be taken closer to the time.

“I was glad to see Davy Russell’s horrendous fall at Gowran isn’t as bad as first feared and, thank God, his leg isn’t broken. There seems to be every possibility he will make Punchestown.

“Should that be the case, and should Windsor Park run at Punchestown, then Davy Russell will most definitely be riding him.”

A decision on the participation of Many Clouds in the Crabbie’s Grand National is likely to be made this weekend.

Trainer Oliver Sherwood was slightly disappointed with the Hennessy winner’s display in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, where he could only finish a 25-length sixth to Coneygree.

His owner Trevor Hemmings has already won the Grand National twice, with Hedgehunter and Ballabriggs, and would love nothing more than another crack at the great race, but Sherwood is in no rush to commit.

“He’s done nothing for a week, he’ll start doing a bit more this week,” said Sherwood on At The Races.

“I’m meeting with Mick Meagher (racing manager) and Trevor Hemmings at the weekend and we’ll probably make a decision then.

“I just want to see how he is over the next 10 days or so.”

Special Tiara will try to end his campaign on a high at either Sandown or Punchestown following his fine effort in defeat at Cheltenham.

The eight-year-old made a gallant effort to make all when three lengths third to Dodging Bullets in the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase and will now bid to go two places better in search of a second Grade One success over fences.

Trainer Henry de Bromhead will look at the Celebration Chase at Sandown and the Boylesports.com Champion Chase at Punchestown as his final calling point of the campaign.

“We’re delighted with him. He’s in really good form since he came back. All’s good, so we can’t complain at all,” said de Bromhead.

“He’ll probably run in the Celebration or the race at Punchestown, one or the other.”

Should he go to Punchestown then he would be trying to emulate his illustrious stable companion Sizing Europe, who has won that Grade One contest over two miles twice in the last three years.

Now aged 13, Sizing Europe was seventh in the Queen Mother which he won in 2011. De Bromhead reports his stable stalwart to be none the worse for his Cheltenham exertions but there had been no decision yet on his future.

“He’s good. There are no immediate plans, so we’ll just see,” said the County Waterford handler.


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