Cheltenham: who should Geraghty ride in the Champion?

Barry Geraghty: has a choice to make in the Champion Hurdle

PICTURE: Patrick McCann ( Cheltenham choice: who should Geraghty ride? By Keith Melrose 13:15pM 20 FEB 2017

WITH the Champion Hurdle increasingly open by the week, the decision that Barry Geraghty will have to make, primarily between Yanworth and Buveur D'Air, could prove decisive to the chances of one or both.

Which of the pair, generally first and second in the Champion Hurdle market, should Geraghty ride? With their styles differing so markedly, it is not a decision he is likely to take lightly.

Yanworth (Barry Geraghty)

Yanworth: comfortably won the Christmas Hurdle under Geraghty

PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (

Price to ride horse: 8-13 (Paddy Power)
Price to win race: 9-2 (Betfair)
Best RPR 165

Pro: Since he has taken the role as first jockey to JP McManus, Geraghty's flagship ride has been Yanworth. The two have never been parted in eight starts over hurdles and they've been pretty successful. Their record stands at seven wins and a sole defeat to Yorkhill in last season's Neptune.

Con: Doubts over Yanworth's suitability for two miles have persisted, despite wins in the Christmas Hurdle and Kingwell, both held at sharp tracks. His most recent performance at Wincanton on Saturday did not exactly shine as being one of a Champion Hurdler in waiting.

Not only does Yanworth need to be ridden a certain way, but he probably needs others to frame a certain type of race for him, one that is not all about speed.

The winner Buveur D’Air (Barry Geraghty)

Buveur D’Air: did not need to come off the bridle to win at Sandown

PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (

Buveur D'Air
Price to ride horse: 6-5 (Paddy Power)
Price to win race: 7-2 (Stan James)
Best RPR: 156

Pro: Buveur D'Air will almost certainly be able to handle anything the Champion Hurdle throws at him. He fared well in last year's Supreme, the nearest simulation of the Champion, and in a renewal that now looks red-hot.

He is a straightforward ride. Settle him wherever you please and pick your moment.

Con: Geraghty has only ridden Buveur D'Air in the Contenders Hurdle and, given he rode that race like a piece of work, it is debateable how much of a feel he has for the horse.

That feel is important as, in spite of his position as Champion Hurdle favourite, Buveur D'Air is essentially unproven against top two-mile hurdlers.

Paddy Power make Geraghty 20-1 to ride any other horse in the Champion Hurdle.

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