CHELTENHAM, England (AP) — Bob's Worth overtook long-time leader Long Run with a late burst to win the Gold Cup at the Cheltenham Festival on Friday, completing a remarkable personal journey for jockey Barry Geraghty in one of Britain's top races.
Geraghty bought Bob's Worth for €16,000 ($20,900) as a yearling, sold him to trainer Nicky Henderson for a small profit three years later and ended up riding the 8-year-old horse to a winner's check of more than 310,000 pounds ($470,000).
"This is brilliant, he is a gorgeous horse and he has a great attitude," Geraghty said. "He's as game as a lion and he loves the job." Geraghty was close to tears as he paid his respects to fellow Irish jockey JT McNamara, who underwent surgery on Friday after fracturing two vertebrae in his neck after falling from a horse during a race at the festival on Thursday.
"I'd love to be happier," Geraghty said, moments after crossing the winning post. "All we can think about is John Thomas McNamara. We just hope and pray to God he's OK." Bob's Worth made it five wins from five races on the Cheltenham track after choosing his moment perfectly to attack Long Run and Sir Des Champs. Jumping the final fence level with his two rivals, Bob's Worth pulled clear in the sprint to the line up the hill and won by seven lengths, justifying his position as 11-4 favorite and earning Henderson his 50th festival winner.
Sir Des Champs was second ahead of Long Run, the 2011 winner who was looking to become the second horse to regain the Gold Cup title after Kauto Star, winner in 2007 and '09. "Long Run ran a cracker," jockey Sam Waley-Cohen said. "He made one or two mistakes for a lack of concentration, but I could not ask any more of him. He is a star."
Bob's Worth hadn't raced since winning the Hennessey Gold Cup in November and started favorite ahead of Sir Des Champs and Silviniaco Conti, who fell at the third-to-last fence when in third place. The four-day festival ended with drama as Oscar Delta unseated jockey Jane Mangan when leading on the run-in in the Foxhunter Chase Challenge Cup.
Oscar Delta was running so close to the rope at the side of the course that he jinked to the right and slowed up dramatically, knocking Mangan off her mount and allowing Salsify to romp home unchallenged.
"I felt like I had the race won," Mangan said. "This is a nightmare." The victories of Salsify and then Alderwood in the last race earned Irish trainers a record 14 winners at Cheltenham this year, breaking the record of 13 set in 2011.