Henderson’s Bobs Worth wins Gold Cup
Barry Geraghty’s mount battles up the hill to beat Sir Des Champs and Long Run to glory
Barry Geraghty celebrates on Bobs Worth after winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup Chase. Photograph: Andrew Redington/Getty Images
Bobs Worth ridden by Barry Geraghty (left) won the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Photograph: Joe Giddens/PA Wire
With the first and the third home in former champion Long Run, Nicky Henderson could not have picked a more fitting outcome to take his unprecedented haul at the meeting to a cool 50.
There was a record, too, for Bobs Worth, who is unbeaten in five visits to the course and, in adding to the RSA and the Albert Bartlett, he had already earned, was becoming the first since the great Flyingbolt in the 1960s to secure three different Festival events in consecutive years.
Jockey Barry Geraghty bought the gelding as a yearling and made just a minor profit when selling him on at for just over £20,000 at four to Henderson and The Not Afraid Partnership, a syndicate of largely racing and business establishment friends headed by Malcolm Kimmins.
To clinch his second Gold Cup after Kicking King in 2005 hardly made the wounds feel too sore. Surprisingly, the 11-4 favourite was making just his second appearance of the season after his victory in November’s Hennessy as Henderson had opted for racecourse gallops and sessions at home to prepare for Cheltenham, unwilling was he to risk him publicly during the wet winter.
A rainy Cotswolds day was not ideal, either, and Geraghty had appeared slightly anxious aboard his mount as he fell a little off the pace set by Sam Waley-Cohen and Long Run.
Tony McCoy, a last-minute deputy for the injured Davy Russell, always kept Long Run in his sights aboard Sir Des Champs, while Silviniaco Conti was very much in the equation until he fell at the unforgiving downhill third-last.
By then, Bobs Worth was now starting to gather momentum and passed Long Run and Sir Des Champs approaching the final fence, with enough left in the tank to forge seven lengths clear.
“He’s just a true professional, and such a brave horse,” said Henderson. “Barry was trying to hang on to him as we know he comes up the hill, he has never been beaten on it.
“Bobs Worth hasn’t run since the Hennessy and Long Run hasn’t run since the King George, so it was all down to what we did at home and we did it as a team. I have to thank them all. They were brilliant.
“I was worried about the ground but they are two really brave horses and you just have to take what you get. You can’t take anything away from Long Run, Sam was going hammer and tongs with AP (McCoy) and he wasn’t intimidated.”
Unless Paul Nicholls has a phenomenal Grand National meeting, Henderson now surely will win the trainers’ title for the first time since 1987.
He and Geraghty also shared the joy of Sprinter Sacre’s immaculate Champion Chase victory. “When I started in 1978, I was very lucky as dad supported me, but to him I think he thought it was a very good way of blowing the family’s dosh,” he said.
“It all seems a long time ago now, and it’s tougher now than ever.
“At the beginning, I was post-Michael Dickinson (who trained the first five home in the Gold Cup 30 years ago) and pre-Martin Pipe and there were a couple of years when there was room for someone.
“We’ve had some better horses in the last couple of years and of course I’d like to win the title. It would be great to get it, and I don’t feel old. I’ve got a few years left.
“I’ve got the support of a fantastic team of people and the owners are the greatest mates. I can’t tell you how much it means to them.”
Geraghty, like all of his weighing room colleagues, had his thoughts with jockey JT McNamara, who suffered a very serious injury yesterday and who this afternoon underwemt surgery.
“I’d love to be happier,” he said. “All we can think about is John Thomas. We just hope and pray to God he’s OK.”
Referring to the race, he said: “I knew three out I had five or six lengths to find, but I thought I had a good chance. You have to be patient and keep nursing him because if you put the gun to his head you would be in trouble. You are working away in fourth gear and save fifth gear until you really need it. I put him into fifth approaching the last and went away with him.”