More of That outstays Annie Power to win World Hurdle
Paul Nicholls announces retirement of Big Buck’s after four-time winner finished fifth
Barry Geraghty drives home More Of That (right) to win the Ladbrokes World Hurdle ahead of Annie Power and Ruby Walsh (left) at Cheltenham. Photograph: Andrew Redington/Getty Images
More Of That outstayed Annie Power up the famous Cheltenham hill to claim the Ladbrokes World Hurdle with Big Buck’s back in fifth and subsequently retired.
Tony McCoy appeared to have dealt a hammer blow to More Of That’s chances a couple of weeks ago by choosing to ride At Fishers Cross, who eventually finished third, and the winner’s participation was only confirmed at declaration time.
Punters were not deterred, however, and he was sent off the 15 to 2 third-favourite in the hands of Barry Geraghty, who for the second time this week benefited from McCoy making the wrong choice.
Plenty still held chances at the bottom of the hill, but it was left to the two unbeaten young guns to fight it out, with More Of That, having just the fifth run of his life, powering to glory.
Trainer Paul Nicholls immediately announced the retirement of 11-year-old Big Buck’s, the four-time winner of the race who only returned from injury in January.
Nicholls said: “He’s going to have an honourable retirement, it’s a sad to day but it’s good to end in one piece.”
Geraghty said of More Of That: “It’s great. AP was the first to congratulate me, there’s no hard feelings – he’s a true professional.
“He’s a good horse. I was always happy. Ruby (Walsh, on Annie Power) was upsides me in the straight and he looked to be travelling and when he gave her a squeeze, the response was okay but I thought I had enough in reserve.
“It’s only his fifth run. He jumped and travelled away. He was a bit innocent when he got to the front, a bit unsure but he kept going.”
A delighted McManus said: “Someone was going to be dissapointed and it was Barry’s day.
“It’s nice to have horses that are good enough to run in these big races, and having Barry and AP on my side is great. Jonjo is a star man.”
O’Neill said: “He’s still a big frame of a horse really and coming to himself. It all came together nicely, it’s brilliant.
“He doesn’t show you much at home, he’s just a real class horse and goes about his business, never does anything flash.”
Big Buck’s was taken straight to the stables following the race, but after his retirement was confirmed, the ever-popular runner returned to the paddock to say farewell with one last walk around the ring.
Nicholls said: “Andy (Stewart, owner) and I have been talking about it and I couldn’t improve him any more on what he’s done today. We won’t ask him to run again as he’s been a wonderful horse and wonderful for racing.”
Stewart said: “The great horse is not as great as he was when a nine-year-old.
“He had 420 days off (before returning in the Cleeve Hurdle) and he’s obviously not sparkling any more. At Fishers Cross beat him in the Cleeve and has done so again and I think he is finding the years getting to him.
“We have done as much as we possibly can and there’s no way we can improve on that, what you saw today is as good as he is but he owes us nothing.
“He’s going back to Ditcheat where all my other retired horses are, and he’ll be with Cenkos.
“It’s been very flattering the way the public have taken to him.
“He’s probably one of the greatest, if not the greatest, staying hurdler of all-time, and it’s time to enjoy his retirement.
“He’s been great for the public, great for racing and I love him to death.”
Ruby Walsh said of Annie Power: “She was keen early and I didn’t get her 100 per cent switched off.
“I probably got in a battle too early and picked the wrong McManus horse to follow.
“The winner found plenty, she stayed all right but he stayed better. I wouldn’t mind riding the race again and challenging after the last rather than at the furlong pole.
“She jumped like a buck and she’ll benefit greatly from a race like that, she’s still a very good mare.”
1 More Of That (B Geraghty) 15/2
2 Annie Power (Ruby Walsh) 11/8 Fav
3 At Fishers Cross (AP McCoy) 9/1