All eyes will be on Cheltenham this week as the English racecourse’s annual National Hunt festival gets underway. In addition to the usual Irish interest in the event, this year will also have an added attraction for Longfordians in particular, as Carrickedmond jockey Patrick Gerety will be competing in the Christies Foxhunter Chase on board ‘Cottage Oak’.
“This is my third season racing,” Patrick said. “I’m an amateur jockey and most of my races so far have been point-to-point and hunt chasing.” But even when he’s not racing, Patrick still spends his time working around horses: “I’m working at the stables of Gary Hanmer, a horse trainer who’s based in Nantwich in Cheshire, but I also travel around to different stables every few days.”
His mount at Cheltenham, Cottage Oak, will also be of interest to Irish punters, as he was bred by Gordon Elliot at his stables in Meath, and is trained by Joe O’Shea. The 24 year-old jockey is quietly confident of his chances of taking victory with the gelding, and most of that confidence is down to his record with Cottage Oak so far, with the pair already proving to be a formidable partnership. “He has a right good chance of winning,” he said. “I’ve only raced with him four times, but we’ve won all four. We’ve won two point-to-point races, the Walrus Hunters’ Chase at Haydock and the Hunters’ Chase at Kelso.”
Speaking after Cottage Oak won at Haydock last month, trainer Joe O’Shea heaped praise on the Carrickedmond man: “What a jockey Paddy is for a 7lb claimer! Matt Smith was going to ride for us this season but he was injured ahead of Barbury. Paddy told me he was available if I ever needed a jockey for Cottage Oak, so I gave him his chance at Barbury and he took it.”
The Foxhunter Chase takes place at Chelthenham on Friday afternoon, directly after the Gold Cup.
Check out Tom Colahan’s special Cheltenham Preview on page 33 of this week’s paper for more on this year’s Cheltenham Festival.