Bobs Worth and Barry Geraghty have won an epic Gold Cup here on the concluding day of the Cheltenham Festival, slogging up the famous hill in one of the great slow-motion finishes to a major jumps race. Tony McCoy was second on Sir Des Champs, having taken the ride on the morning of the race when his intended mount became a non-runner.
The thrill of speed had very little do with this race but a packed crowd, sodden by heavy rain earlier in the day, roared its appreciation as the 11-4 favourite came home in front. Bobs Worth gave a second Gold Cup in three years to his trainer, Nicky Henderson, and also a second to his jockey, Barry Geraghty, who won on Kicking King in 2005.
Long Run, Henderson’s previous winner, set what seemed a strong pace but was still in front at the turn for home. He was tracked throughout by the other big names in the race, Sir Des Champs, Silviniaco Conti and The Giant Bolster, with Bobs Worth behind them. The others were gradually left behind, almost exactly in the order suggested by the betting.
The race developed quickly down the hill on the final circuit as Bobs Worth appeared to be getting left behind, hitting a high of 9-1 in-running on Betfair. Silviniaco Conti, on the other hand, was travelling well until taking a slithering fall at the third-last.
Long Run and Sir Des Champs appeared set to fight out the finish, but Bobs Worth gradually clawed back the deficit from the turn for home until he led on the run to the last, throwing in impressive leaps at the final two fences. Sir Des Champs briefly looked like renewing his challenge on the run-in but could find no more. Long Run kept on bravely for third.
“He’s game as a lion, he loves the job,” Geraghty said. “We had faith in the horse and Nicky knew he’d have him fit enough for the day, he didnt need a prep-run.
“The ground was turning softer than ideal for my fella, I had to nurse him through it. I had to nurse him from the fourth or fifth-last fence, really.”
“He’s a thorough professional and Barry knows him well,” Henderson said. “I don’t think the rain helped us a lot.”
Asked if he was concerned when the horse appeared to be toiling on the run to the third-last, the trainer replied: “I think Barry was just trying to hold onto something, because we know he comes up the hill.”
Bobs Worth is now unbeaten in five runs at Cheltenham and has won a Grade One race at three consecutive Festivals.
Earlier, McCoy had achieved his long-awaited first success of this Festival on At Fishers Cross in the Albert Bartlett. The winner’s enclosure was an especially emotional place afterwards, as the horse’s owner, JP McManus, is a longstanding employer and friend of the jockey J T McNamara, who suffered two fractured vertabrae in his neck in a race on Thursday.
McManus described McNamara as “a lovely, lovely man”, while McCoy and the winning trainer, Rebecca Curtis, also spoke movingly of their hopes that he would recover.
The opening Triumph Hurdle was won in astonishing style by Our Conor, trained by Dessie Hughes, who was impressive enough to be quoted at 5-1 for next year’s Champion Hurdle.
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