March 16th 2013 – Quarter of a million racing enthusiasts descended on Cheltenham last week, Britain’s premier jumping racecourse, for the four day Annual Festival, the pinnacle of the National Hunt racing season. Irish trainers launched their usual formidable challenge with 599 Irish trained entries and finished marginally ahead of Great Britain, winning 14 of the 27 races.
Festival week culminated in the much coveted Gold Cup, bringing together the ‘best of the best’ in a bid to win a slice of £550,000 prize money. Popular Irish jockey Barry Geraghty rode eight year old ‘Bobs Worth’, the 11/4 favourite to a gutsy seven length victory. In a bizarre sequence of events Barry bought the horse as a yearling for 16,500 Euros and owned him for two and a half years before selling him to his current trainer, Nicky Henderson. No one has ever bought, sold and then ridden the same horse to victory in The Gold Cup before.
Amateur jockey Sam Waley-Cohen made the running on the 2011 winner ‘Long Run’ (also trained by Henderson) over 22 fences, pushing stamina to the limits on the taxing 3m 2f trip. Champion jockey AP McCoy chased in hot pursuit on ‘Sir Des Champs’, eventually finishing second before ‘Bobs Worth’ drew clear on the uphill run in. The win gave Lambourn based trainer, Nicky Henderson, two reasons to celebrate, this being his 50th Festival win in a training career spanning 35 years.
On a day of highly charged emotions, Barry Geraghty dedicated his victory to amateur jockey and friend, J. T. McNamara, who was critically injured in a fall earlier in the week.
By Lynn Lawson