Barry Geraghty: Winning the Grand National was best career moment

Top jockey Barry Geraghty reflects on his 2003 Grand National win aboard Monty’s Pass:

"It was the morning of the National and I remember I had to get down to 10st 7lb to ride Monty’s Pass, so I spent a lot of time in the sauna on the day having some craic with the lads.

I’d been looking forward to the day for a long time. I knew Jimmy (Mangan the trainer) and the owners really well and had ridden the horse a number of times.

We knew he took to the fences having been second in the Topham the year before and he came to Aintree fresher for the National having not run at Cheltenham.

Two races before and I took a heavy fall on Rathgar Beau in the Maghull Novices’ Chase but thankfully I came away unscathed, otherwise the story could have been a lot different.

As the clocked ticked away I was getting excited for the race as we were very sweet on him, but the National is a lottery so you’ve got to manage your expectations.

Jimmy gave me some final instructions, which was basically not to ask the horse any questions and to let him pop away himself.

We got down to the start, got a nice position and I couldn't have dreamed for a better ride round.

I might have been a little closer to the pace than was ideal as he wasn’t guaranteed to stay, but we kept out of trouble the whole way and he just jumped and travelled brilliantly.

I didn’t expect to be as close to the leaders as I was when we were jumping the water with a circuit to go, but at the same time I knew we were travelling great, his jumping was foot perfect, the ground was ideal and we were off a nice weight.

Gunner Welburn then pulled out a few lengths in front with about 10 or so fences to take but I was never worried and I didn’t want to get into a duel up front.

I knew I had all the pace in the world and it was just a question as to whether he would get the four-and-a-half miles.

When we got over to the third last, where there are no crowds, we couldn’t have been going any easier.

It’s dead silent over at that part of the course and all you can hear are the thoughts in your head.

I’ll always remember just the short moment where I took stock of the fact that I could be on the verge of winning the biggest race in the world.

Coming past the elbow and into the final few hundred yards, I took a look over my shoulder and I could see we were clear, so I had time to give a quick salute before the line.

I came into the winners’ enclosure, which was the old winners’ enclosure back then, and I was floating.

It’s the one race that every jockey wants to win and the one race that everybody around the world knows about, so it has to go down as the greatest moment of my career.

Amazingly, Monty’s Pass was found to have a heart murmur when he was three, which worked out in all of our favours as nobody would take him off Jimmy’s hands!

I couldn’t ride over the summer last year as I had broken my leg so I took the family over to see him and he’s still going strong.

He looked an absolute picture and is a lovely old horse."

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