Barry Geraghty says Edwardstone’s form will need to take another step up in form if he is to tackle Energumene in the Champion Chase following his winning return on Sunday.
Arkle hero Edwardstone stamped his Champion Chase credentials with a stunning victory in the Tingle Creek Chase, whilst defending champion Energumene romped home in the Hilly Way Chase at Cork.
And whilst Edwardstone arguably achieved more in beating Greaneteen and Shishkin, Energumene is odds on in places for the Champion Chase, with Edwardstone a 5/2 shot for the Alan King team.
When reviewing Energumene’s seasonal reappearance on Off The Fence, Geraghty was impressed with how relaxed the Champion Chaser looked and admitted the Willie Mullins’ horse is very much still the one to beat.
“I’d stick with the current champion,” Geraghty said.
“Edwardstone is a very good horse and really impressed me in the Tingle Creek but he just needs to make that step to beat an Energumene or a horse of that standard.
“It was a good performance and it’s what you would’ve hoped for.
“Just a couple of little things – he did have a look at the gate, was a bit idle in front and missed the first down the back and the second last.
“He just wasn’t as aggressive as maybe he was at Ascot when he was really on edge and was really switched on with Paul Townend.
“He was more relaxed and for that reason he put down at the first down the back, but jumped really well after that.
“It should help him in the finish, when he didn’t come home amazingly at Ascot and he might get home better this year with that bit of age and experience so that’s a positive for me anyway.”
Geraghty also reserved praise for Mullins’ stable jockey Paul Townend, who has made the seamless transition to No.1 rider at Closutton after the retirement of Ruby Walsh in 2019.
“Paul [Townend] is a brilliant rider and he mentioned how these are the hardest rides,” he added. “Galloping down to a fence you’re thinking, ‘I don’t really need a big one’.
“You can leave yourself second guessing and on a hiding to nothing. The potential is all for something to go wrong or something negative so it can be a test for a rider.
“But Paul was very good on Energumene and he is very good as well.”
Meet the Off The Fence team
Now retired after a 24-year career in the saddle which yielded 43 Cheltenham Festival successes, Gold Cup and Grand National-winning jockey Barry Geraghty returns to At The Races, with whom he enjoyed a fruitful relationship as ambassador and columnist between 2012 and 2019.
An iconic National Hunt rider still well connected and riding work at some of the sport’s biggest yards, Barry has won all there is to win in jumps racing and is sure to give Off The Fence viewers raw insight each week.
A popular member of the Sky Sports Racing on-course presenter team who also fronts The Bloodstock Show, host Vanessa is an avid jumps racing fan, and will be tasked each week with steering her analyst colleagues ‘Off The Fence’.
attheraces.com’s resident Irish tipster and analyst, Tony Keenan has also played a leading role alongside Barry in ATR’s Cheltenham Preview Nights in Dublin since 2017.
As sharp-tongued as he is sharp-minded, Tony’s regular unique takes and no-nonsense delivery will no doubt keep Off The Fence viewers (and Barry and Vanessa!) on their toes.