Monday, 14 October 2019

Cheltenham Gold Cup 2013

cheltenham gold cup 2013
The 2013 Cheltenham Gold Cup, sponsored by Betfred, featured nine runners and was won, in convincing style, by Bobs Worth, trained by Nicky Henderson and ridden by Barry Geraghty. In so doing, the 11/4 favourite was completing a notable Cheltenham Festival treble, having won the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle in 2011 and the RSA Chase in 2012.

Bobs Worth ran just twice during the 2012/13 season, readily accounting for Tidal Bay by 3¼ lengths in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury on his seasonal reappearance in December before lining up in the Cheltenham Gold Cup 104 days later. His main opposition came from stable companion, and King George VI Chase winner, Long Run, who started 7/2 second favourite, and Betfair Chase winner Silviniaco Conti and Irish Hennessy Gold Cup winner Sir Des Champs, who were sent off at 4/1 joint third favourites.

Early on the second circuit, Long Run was in the lead, jumping well, although hotly pursued by Sir Des Champs in a close second. Silviniaco Conti fell at the third last, when still travelling well and, in so doing, hampered Bobs Worth, who was 8 lengths down at that point. Briefly, it appeared that Long Run and Sir Des Champs may have the race between them, but Bobs Worth came with a strong run approaching the second last, jumped the final fence in front and powered clear on the run-in to beat Sir Des Champs by 7 lengths, with Long Run a further 2¾ lengths in third.

Winning trainer Nicky Henderson had always expressed his concern that Bobs Worth would be better on good going, rather than the prevailing soft going. That sentiment was echoed by a nonetheless delighted Barry Geraghty, who said of Bobs Worth, “He’s a great attitude, he struggled on the ground but he kept fighting. I was hunting and I knew coming into the second last I would win. He's as game as a lion and he loves the job.”

Hailed by Henderson as “amazing, an absolute legend”, Bobs Worth was retired from racing in 2016 and has since enjoyed a happy retirement with Tracy Vigors at Hillwood Stud.

Saturday, 28 September 2019

Cheltenham Gold Cup 2012

cheltenham gold cup 2012
The 2012 Cheltenham Gold Cup, sponsored, for the first time, by Betfred, featured 13 runners and was won by Synchronised, trained by Jonjo O’Neill and ridden by A.P. McCoy. The race also featured the final racecourse appearance by Kauto Star, winner of the Cheltenham Gold Cup twice and the King George VI Chase five times, who was eventually retired from racing the following October.

Kauto Star was sent off 3/1 second favourite, behind defending champion and 7/4 favourite Long Run but, after losing a prominent early position at the seventh fence, weakened after a mistake at the next fence and was pulled up before halfway.

Meanwhile, Midnight Chase made the running until headed by Time For Rupert at the fourth last, where he blundered, but Time For Rupert, too, was swamped on the run to the second last fence. At that point, 50/1 outsider The Giant Bolster took the lead and looked, momentarily, as if he might cause an almighty surprise. However, Long Run, on his inside, jumped upsides at the last, while Synchronised, who’d been ridden along in sixth as the field turned back towards home, came home strongly on the outside under a vintage McCoy drive. The 8/1 chance fought his way into the lead shortly afterwards and kept on gamely up the hill for a dramatic win. The Giant Bolster rallied for second, beaten 2¼ lengths, with Long Run a further three-quarters of a length away in third.

McCoy, who celebrating his second win in the race, after Mr. Mulligan in 1997, said of Synchronised, “He’s an amazing horse and it was an amazing performance. He’s really delivered.”

Jonjo O'Neill, who became the latest of a select group of men to ride, and train, a Cheltenham Gold Cup winner, said, “AP [McCoy] was brilliant on him, he knows him so well. Our big worry was keeping him in the race as, if he makes mistakes, he gets behind.”

Tragically, Synchronised next ran in the Grand National at Aintree less than a month later; ridden, once again, by A.P. McCoy, he was sent off 10/1 second favourite, but fell at Becher’s Brook on the first circuit and, despite getting up and galloping away, broke a hind leg after falling again, when running loose, five fences later and was put down.

Saturday, 10 August 2019

Cheltenham Gold Cup 2011

cheltenham gold cup 2011
The 2011 Cheltenham Gold Cup, sponsored by Totesport, was a vintage renewal of the “Blue Riband” event, with three previous winners – Kauto Star, Denman and defending champion Imperial Commander – among the 13 runners. However, it was Long Run, winner of the rearranged King George VI Chase at Kempton in January, who started favourite at 7/2.

Owned by Robert Waley-Cohen and trained by Nicky Henderson, Long Run had been less than foot perfect when beaten in the RSA Chase and the Paddy Power Gold Cup on two previous visits to Cheltenham. However, despite again making mistakes, the six-year-old delivered his challenge at the second last and quickly put daylight between himself and his nearest pursuer. Denman finished second, beaten 7 lengths, while Kauto Star faded to finish third, a further 4 lengths adrift.

Kauto Star had taken the lead with a circuit to run, but was headed at the third last by fellow 11-year-old Denman and, turning into the straight, it appeared briefly that the “old guard” had the race between them. That was, of course, until Long Run, who’d been under pressure for a while, appeared on the scene between the last two fences and quickly put the result beyond doubt. The other “big gun”, Imperial Commander, was tailed off when pulled up and dismounted before the last fence and was found to be lame after the race.

Winning jockey Sam Waley-Cohen, who became the first amateur jockey for 30 years to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup, said afterwards, “That's a very special feeling and he's a very special horse. He's a whole lot better than I thought he was.”

Long Run was a first Cheltenham Gold Cup winner for Nicky Henderson and the first six-year-old to win the race since Mill House 48 years earlier. Henderson later reflected on the race, saying, “This horse is still only six, so there is a lot to look forward to with him yet. Kauto Star was probably at his best today, but Long Run is a very good young horse.”

Friday, 26 July 2019

Cheltenham Gold Cup 2010

cheltenham gold cup 2010
The 2010 Cheltenham Gold Cup, sponsored by Totesport, featured ten runners and produced a dramatic finish, with odds-on favourite Kauto Star taking a crashing fall at the fourth last fence. Trained by Paul Nicholls and ridden by Ruby Walsh, Kauto Star had won the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2007 and 2009 and started 8/11 in his bid for a third Gold Cup victory.

However, the ten-year-old blundered badly at the eighth fence and appeared to be struggling long before parting company with his jockey. He was niggled along heading out on the second circuit and, although only 3 lengths down, was labouring in fifth place when falling at the fourth last, soon after the turn at the top of the hill. Ruby Walsh acknowledged that fact, saying, “His first one was a bad mistake. It knocked me out of position and I could not get him on an even keel.”

In any event, the race was won, in convincing style, by 7/1 third favourite Imperial Commander, trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies and ridden by Paddy Brennan. The seven-year-old was always prominent and, having taken the lead at the second last fence, was driven clear to win by 7 lengths, going away. The 2008 winner, and 4/1 second favourite, Denman finished a tired second under A.P. McCoy, but was still 23 lengths clear of 2009 Grand National winner Mon Mome who, at 50/1, stayed on strongly in the closing stages to deny Carruthers of third place in the dying strides.

Imperial Commander was a first Cheltenham Gold Cup winner for trainer and jockey. Twiston-Davies was bullish about his charge, saying, “It’s just absolutely brilliant. It’s been very hard for us sat there with the third-favourite when all the talk was about Kauto and Denman, but we always knew we were going to win.”

Brennan, too, was cock-a-hoop, saying, “It's by far the best day of my life. I'm speechless. It was a dream the whole way.”

Sunday, 9 June 2019

Cheltenham Gold Cup 2009

cheltenham gold cup 2009
The 2009 Cheltenham Gold Cup, sponsored by Totesport, featured 16 runners, but was billed as a rematch between stable companions Denman and Kauto, who had finished first and second in the race in 2008. On that occasion, Denman had fared better of the pair, staying on well in the closing stages to win by 7 lengths. However, after surgery for an irregular heartbeat the following September and a heavy defeat, at odds-on, on his reappearance at Kempton in February, “The Tank”, as he was affectionately known, was sent off 7/1 second favourite, despite being defending champion. Kauto Star, ridden, as usual, by Ruby Walsh started 7/4 favourite.

In race dominated by the market leaders, Paul Nicholls’ apparent third string Neptune Collonges led his stable companions Kauto Star and Denman coming down the hill for the final time, but was quickly joined, and passed, at the third last. From the home turn, at least for a stride or two, it appeared that the long-awaited rematch might develop, but it soon became clear that Kauto Star was travelling, by far, the better of the pair.

The favourite held a 5-length advantage jumping the second last and went further clear in the closing stage, eventually winning impressively by 13 lengths, the widest winning margin for 24 years. Although outpaced by the winner, Denman stayed on strongly to finish second under Sam Thomas, with Exotic Dancer, trained by Jonjo O’Neill and ridden by A.P. McCoy, 2½ further back in third place.

Having previously won the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2007, Kauto Star became the first horse in history to regain his crown. Winning trainer Paul Nicholls was ebullient in his praise of Kauto Star, saying, “He’s fit, he’s fresh, he was never going to get beat today.” Winning jockey Ruby Walsh was no less delighted, saying, “He’s the greatest horse I’ve ever ridden. Two miles, three miles, now two Gold Cups. He’s magic, he's a wonder horse.”