03/15/2013 12:28PM

Cheltenham Gold Cup goes to favored Bobs Worth


CHELTENHAM, England – Cheltenham Racecourse has become a proving ground for Bobs Worth.

From a victory in a novice hurdle in January 2011, Bobs Worth has risen dramatically through England’s steeplechase rankings. Friday, he won the most prestigious chase in England, the $830,500 Cheltenham Gold Cup over 3 5/16 miles.

Ridden by Barry Garaghty, Bobs Worth, the 11-4 favorite in a field of nine, took the lead before the final fence and finished seven lengths in front of runner-up Sir Des Champs. Long Run, the winner of the 2011 Gold Cup, finished third after leading to the last of 22 fences.

Bobs Worth and Long Run are trained by Nicky Henderson. Henderson is the all-time leader in victories at the Cheltenham National Hunt festival, with 50 wins.

Geraghty had Bobs Worth well off the pace for the first 2 1/2 miles, and moved his mount closer in the last half-mile. When the field moved into the stretch, with two fences remaining, Bobs Worth was racing just behind Long Run.

“He picked it up from the third last,” Geraghty said. “He got there in plenty of time. He’s got a good attitude and loves the game.”

An 8-year-old Irish-bred gelding by Bob Back, Bobs Worth is perfect in five career starts at Cheltenham.

Bobs Worth races for the Not Afraid Partnership. Bobs Worth had one other start this steeplechase season, winning the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury on Dec. 1. Bobs Worth has won 9 of 12 starts in his career.

◗ Amateur jockey J.T. McNamara was found to have two fractured vertebrae in his neck after falling from his mount in a steeplechase at Cheltenham on Thursday. The Ireland-based McNamara, 37, was being treated in a hospital in nearby Bristol.