Former jump jockey Barry Geraghty says it was impossible to turn down a return to the saddle for Wednesday’s Leger Legends race at Doncaster.
Geraghty, a former Irish champion and the second most successful rider at the Cheltenham Festival, retired in July last year aged 40.
He will be on board the Charlie Hills-trained Mumtaaz on Town Moor in the Mondialiste Leger Legends Classified Stakes, a charity event that raises money for the Injured Jockeys Fund.
“I got a phone call to ask if I’d ride in it and obviously there was only one answer,” Geraghty told Sky Sports Racing.
“I’m really looking forward to it and have been for a while. It’s a great race with a great history.”
Geraghty will be joined by 12 other riders, including former champion jockey Richard Johnson, and is expecting a competitive affair.
“I’m sure there will be no inch given and no inch expected,” he said. “It can’t be any other way.
“I’ve done a bit on the bike to get myself some fitness in the legs for this, to give one a push. It’ll be interesting to see when push comes to shove how much I have.”
Johnson, who retired in April, told Sky Sports Racing: “It’ll be the fastest I’ve been in five months.
“It’s fantastic to be involved and mainly to be able to do something for the Injured Jockeys Fund because they’re an amazing charity and anything we can do to help is not a problem.
“Hopefully we’ll all have fun but obviously I’d like to win.”
Asked if he was enjoying retirement, Geraghty said: “More than I thought. I wasn’t longing to retire but I knew this was about the time.
“Covid probably made it easier because I wasn’t as tortured looking across when the atmosphere was different at race meetings. Even Cheltenham just didn’t appeal as much.
“I’m enjoying the pace of life and being able to do normal stuff.
“I’ve been pre-training a few smart youngsters at home, so I’m busy with those, and I’ve been riding at bit of work with Denise Foster and Gordon Elliott.”
Geraghty rode over 650 career winners, including 43 Cheltenham Festival successes and was twice winning jockey in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, as well as riding Monty’s Pass to victory at the 2003 Grand National.
He says the key to a young jockey’s success is having the support and trust of trainers and owners.
“When you’re riding and you’ve been beaten but whatever decisions you’ve made were made for the right reasons, then you’re not going to second guess yourself,” Geraghty said.
“You’re more likely to make the right decision instinctively if you don’t have that pressure over you. That’s so important, especially for a young rider to develop and get confidence.
“If you’re riding for someone who trusts you, you can be carefree and take chances. That’s what shaped my career.
“It boils down to self-belief. Watching players like Messi and Ronaldo, they don’t doubt themselves, they go for it.
“You obviously need talent, but you also need the right people behind you.”