03/12/2014 11:53AM

Cheltenham: Bob's Worth seeks repeat in Gold Cup


Bob’s Worth will be a strong favorite to win the  $913,000 Cheltenham Gold Cup for the second consecutive year on Friday, and give trainer Nicky Henderson a third win in the last four years in the prestigious steeplechase race.

As of Wednesday, Bob’s Worth was the 13-8 favorite to win the Gold Cup, run over 3 1/4 miles and 22 fences. Bob’s Worth, a 9-year-old gelding by Bob Back, will be ridden by regular rider Barry Geraghty in a field of 14.

The Gold Cup is the leading race of the fourth and final day of the National Hunt festival at Cheltenham.

The Gold Cup will be Bob’s Worth’s third race of the current steeplechase season, preceded by a sixth in the Betfair Chase at Haydock Park in November, and a win in the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown, Ireland, on Dec. 28. Owned by The Not Afraid Partnership, Bob’s Worth has been a Cheltenham specialist, winning all five of his career starts at the western England racecourse.

Henderson, a leading steeplechase trainer in England, won the 2011 Gold Cup with Long Run.

A leading threat to Bob’s Worth is Silviniaco Conti, who fell three fences from the finish of the 2013 Gold Cup while racing in contention. Trained by Paul Nicholls, Silviniaco Conti won the King George VI Chase at Kempton Park on Dec. 26, his most recent start.

The Irish contenders include the controversial Last Instalment, the winner of the Hennessy Gold Cup at Leopardstown on Feb. 9. Last Instalment is trained by Philip Fenton, who faces charges later this month in an Irish court for possessing anabolic steroids. The Fenton-trained horses bound for Cheltenham underwent recent drug testing and were negative, the British Horseracing Authority announced on March 5.

Sire De Grugy scores in Queen Mother Champion Chase

Wednesday at Cheltenham, Sire De Grugy extended his winning streak to four races with a smart win in the $581,000 Queen Mother Champion Chase over two miles.

The 11-4 favorite, Sire De Grugy stalked the pace to the last of 13 fences and pulled away to win by six lengths over 14-1 Somersby. Module, 20-1 outsider, was third in the field of 11.

Sire De Grugy is trained by Gary Moore and was ridden by his son, Jamie. An 8-year-old French-bred gelding by No Risk, Sire De Grugy has won 13 of 24 starts since his career began in late 2010.

The race lost some of its luster earlier this year with the defection of 2013 winner Sprinter Sacre, who was not training to the expectations of Henderson.