Bobs Worth Cup favourite after Hennessy win
Saturday 1 December 2012
1 Bobs Worth (B J Geraghty) 4-1 Fav
2 Tidal Bay (R Walsh) 8-1
3 First Lieutenant (B J Cooper) 12-1
By Geoffrey Riddle
Class rose to the top at the Racecourse Newbury as Bobs Worth justified favouritism to deny a gutsy Tidal Bay in the Hennessy Gold Cup on Saturday.
Bobs Worth became the seventh horse to carry at least 11st to victory in the last 11 years in the Grade 3 handicap chase and with Tidal Bay putting in a brave attempt off 11st 12lb, and third-placed First Lieutenant off 11st 5lb, it was a vintage effort by the mount of Barry Geraghty.
Denman was the last horse to carry a welter burden to success in the extended 3m2f marathon when defying top-weight in 2009 following his Gold Cup win the previous season, and it was no surprise that bookmakers made Bobs Worth favourite for the Blue Riband at Cheltenham in March.
From a best-price of 8-1 in the morning, the RSA Chase winner is as short as 7-2 with Paddy Power to hand trainer Nicky Henderson a second Gold Cup after Long Run in 2011. Most high street bookmakers offer 5-1 though and with a flawless record at Prestbury Park Geraghty was getting understandably excited in the winners’ enclosure afterwards.
“He is so game, he loves racing and he’s not far off the top there,” Geraghty, who bought Bobs Worth as a yearling before Henderson purchased the horse for the Not Afraid Partnership, said.
“When you are riding the best horse in the race that is what happens. He’s four from four at Cheltenham and you don’t get a much better run than that first time out.”
Seven Gold Cup winners since 1980 ran in the previous season's RSA Chase, Long Run being the latest.
Bobs Worth boasts two wins at Kempton, but Henderson all but ruled out a tilt at Long Run and Al Ferof in the King George VI Chase on Boxing Day, and the Argento Chase at Cheltenham in the new year looks a likely target.
"I asked Barry whether we have to stay going left-handed and he said no," Henderson told Racing UK. "I don't think Kempton is his track. He loves Cheltenham and it is a matter of how do we get there. One run would do me."
Henderson stated at a press morning on Tuesday that Bobs Worth would not run at Newbury due to his charge’s unproven record on rain-softened going, following 78mm of rain in the build-up to the race. Having walked the course in person he allowed the 4-1 chance to take his place in the line-up. It helped that on Wednesday, Bobs Worth suddenly slipped into gear.
“I was at evening stables three days ago and to be fair he had just had a clip but he looked fit, healthy and really well,” Henderson said. “It was the first time I felt he had a good chance. He was like a rose coming into bloom.
"He’s not flashy like Sprinter Sacre. You wouldn’t notice him in a race, or on the gallops but at the second last we all went, 'Hello Bob!' and here we are again (in the winners' enclosure)."
Jamie Moore made the running on Fruity O'Rooney from Mark Grant on Soll. Nick Scholfield helped to contribute to a strong pace on Diamond Harry.
Coming to the second last fence, Bobs Worth became embroiled in a stamina-sapping duel with First Lieutenant, his RSA Chase sparring partner, but such is the resilience and determination of the little son of Bob Back that by the final flight First Lieutenant had been ground out of it.
It was left to Tidal Bay, who was three lengths shy of his younger rivals, to pick up the slack but despite a perfect ride from Ruby Walsh he could not make up the ground and went down by three and a quarter lengths.
Only Bregawn, Burrough Hill Lad and Denman have defied a mark of 168 or higher, and with the last winner to be aged in double figures a full 21 years ago it was a stirring effort from the 11-year-old Bet365 Gold Cup winner, who ran off a rating of 166.
"He ran a great race and if Bobs Worth is going to be a Gold Cup horse he probably had to beat us like that,” trainer Paul Nicholls said.
"He's been beaten three lengths under a huge weight and we will go to the Lexus now."