BARRY Geraghty led the tributes last night to the dual Queen Mother Champion Chase winner Moscow Flyer, the horse credited with launching the top jockey’s career.
He steered the horse to all but one of his 26 career victories, including in each of his 13 top-level triumphs, and will be forever indebted to the legendary chaser.
“It’s desperately sad news. I had a tear in my eye when I heard it this morning,” said Geraghty.
“For me, he’s the horse that kick-started my career. I was 20 when I got on him and he gave me my first Grade One winner. He won everywhere he went for many years. He was just an incredible horse and tough as anything. He was something special – a superstar.”
Geraghty feels Moscow Flyer’s Tingle Creek victory of 12 years ago was the highlight.
“He gave me my first Festival winner in the Arkle and there were the two Champion Chases, but, for me, his win in the Tingle Creek was the race of races,” the jockey added.
The 2004 Tingle Creek at Sandown was the spine-tingling race when Moscow Flyer beat his great rivals Azertyuiop and Well Chief when they, too, were in peak condition – and Geraghty’s assessment was shared by trainer Jessica Harrington.
“Without a shadow of doubt, I think the day he was at his best was Sandown in the Tingle Creek,” she said. “That day it all went like clockwork against two other brilliant horses. After that, I’d say regaining his Champion Chase (2005) was his best day.
“He was the horse of a lifetime. I’ll never have another like him, I know that.”
Moscow Flyer bowed out of racing action after finishing fifth in the 2006 Champion Chase at Cheltenham – a race he won in 2003 and 2005 – and spent the latter half of his retirement at the Irish National Stud, in County Kildare, where he died from colic, aged 22.
Sire De Grugy, the 2015 Champion Chase winner, is set to make his seasonal reappearance in tomorrow’s Old Roan Chase at Aintree – provided the ground on Merseyside is not too quick.
If conditions are suitable, Gary Moore’s stable star will come up against Alan King’s Hennessy hero Smad Place and the Tom George-trained God’s Own who was victorious in the Grade One Champion Chase at Punchestown last April.
Bryan Smart could not hide his disappointment after revealing Delectation had been moved away from his yard.
Unbeaten in two races and an impressive winner of the Group Three Firth of Clyde Stakes at Ayr last month, she was due to run in France recently but was withdrawn the day before the race because of a poor blood count.
The Hambleton trainer was treating Delectation as a 1000 Guineas contender but her Australian owner Jamie Lovett has made the decision to take her away.
“I’ve lost my good filly, Delectation,” said Smart.
“We sold her to an Australian with the hope she’d be staying with us. Unfortunately he’s taken her away to Germany. I think she’s gone to Andreas Wohler.”