Published: Saturday March 16, 2013 MYT 9:52:00 AM
Updated: Saturday March 16, 2013 MYT 9:55:42 AM
Racing: Bobs Worth delivers Henderson Golden 50th
CHELTENHAM, United Kingdom: Bobs Worth justified favouritism to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup on Friday to give trainer Nicky Henderson his 50th career win at the Cheltenham Festival.
Superbly ridden by Barry Geraghty he came home seven lengths clear of Irish challenger Sir Des Champs while 2011 champion, Long Run, also trained by Henderson, was third.
"It's dreams, isn't it? Barry Geraghty gave that a lovely pace," said 62-year-old Henderson.
For Geraghty it was an even greater triumph as he had bought the horse originally as a yearling for almost 14,000 and sold him to Henderson for 21,000 as a four-year-old.
"It was brilliant. He is such a great little horse who just loves the job," said Geraghty, whose previous Gold Cup success came in 2005.
"We had faith in the horse. Nicky Henderson knew he would have him fit enough, he knows how to get them ready for Cheltenham," added Geraghty, who can look forward to 10% of the 300,000 first prize cheque.
Earlier 16-times champion jockey Tony McCoy finally broke his duck for the meeting, as he guided home the 11/8 favourite At Fishers Cross, trained in Wales by Rebecca Curtis, in The Novices Hurdle.
Both McCoy, and the winning owner JP McManus, however, didn't feel like celebrating, preferring to talk about 37-year-old Irish amateur rider JT McNamara, who broke two vertebra in his neck in a terrible fall on Thursday.
Ironically this time last year McNamara had been enjoying success on the McManus-owned and Curtis-trained Teaforthree at the Festival.
"It is very difficult to enjoy today after JT McNamara's injury. He is like a family member and it is very sad," added McCoy, who also paid tribute to Campbell Gillies, who won this race last year only to die in a swimming accident in Corfu while on holiday last June.
McCoy and McManus were to round off the meeting with a second winner, Alderwood trained by Tom Mullins - brother of the meeting's leading trainer Willie - giving the Irish a record haul of 14 winners at the Festival.
Jockey Bryan Cooper had landed the first two races of the final day, taking the young rider to three for the meeting.
The 20-year-old Irishman won the first The Triumph Hurdle on the impressive Our Conor, who made light of the terrible conditions to canter home 15 lengths clear of the field.
Bookmakers immediately marked the Dessie Hughes-trained four-year-old as the horse most likely to dethrone Irish compatriot Hurricane Fly in next year's Champion Hurdle.
"This horse has got so much class, he's got everything," said Cooper.
"The rain has got into the ground and I think that suited this lad. I've never had a feeling like it. It's unbelievable. He could give Hurricane Fly a run for his money next season."
Cooper followed that win up with a patient ride in the clinging mud on Ted Veale in the County Hurdle for his main employer in Ireland, Tony Martin.
The Irish wave of winners continued as Salsify, under a brilliantly-judged ride by amateur Colm Sweeney, retained his Foxhunters Chase title.
The race, though, will be remembered more for Jane Mangan being unceremoniously dumped on the ground when her mount and leader Oscar Delta swerved on the flat.
"I felt like I had the race won. This is a nightmare," she said.
Champion trainer Paul Nicholls finally got off the mark in the penultimate race of the meeting, as Salubrious won the Martin Pipe Conditional Hurdle in what was also a win tinged with sadness.
"It has been a hard old time. That is one for Dominic (Baker, son of Nicholls' head lad Clifford, who died in a car crash earlier this month). We have had to cope with a bad week and a funeral next week." - AFP