This was a contest where no quarter was asked or given, as the winner of two years ago, Long Run, carried them along at a ferocious gallop.
Long Run hit the first, but then proceeded to give an exhibition of jumping for his amateur rider, Sam Waley-Cohen.
For a lot of the journey, he was closely attended by Sir Des Champs, with Tony McCoy replacing Davy Russell, absent because of a spontaneous lung puncture.
The third last was to play a major part in the final outcome of a race that was riveting throughout.
There was little to choose rising to the obstacle between Long Run and Sir Des Champs, with Silviniaco Conti poised and, apparently, full of running in third. The Giant Bolster was fourth and Bobs Worth was back in fifth and with ground to make up.
Silviniaco Conti, however, who made a shuddering mistake on the first circuit, buckled on landing and Geraghty had to take swift action to avoid his prostrate rival.
Turning in to face the judge, Sir Des Champs seemed to be full of running, but by the time the second last was reached, the distress signals were flying.
And now Bobs Worth was in full flow, under an inspired Geraghty drive. He had clearly calculated they had gone too fast in front and refused to make his move until good and ready. Between the last two fences, there was only going to be one winner. Bobs Worth roared into the lead, popped the last and came up the hill like a lion to score going away by seven lengths.
Sir Des Champs, who looked destined for third two out, rallied back to grab second, but his legs had turned to jelly and he was out on his feet close home, but in front of Long Run.
Geraghty dedicated his win to John Thomas McNamara, who was seriously injured in a fall off Galaxy Rock on Thursday.
Said Geraghty: “I just wish it was a happier day, because we are all very upset about John Thomas. You have to put it out of mind when you’re racing, but even though this is one of the biggest days of my career, all I could think about was John Thomas. He’s a friend of ours and I hope and pray he will be okay.”
Reflecting on the race, Geraghty reported: “He just struggled on the soft ground most of the way. After a mile, I knew he wasn’t happy, so I started trying to conserve his energy and save a bit. From there I just took my time and chased him along quietly.
“I thought I was beaten with five or six to jump, but he ran on down the hill, jumped the third last well and, from there on, I just held him together. He’s not over-big and, ideally, wants better ground, it was hard for him. I knew if I needed it, there was a good bit in reserve. He showed a lot of pace when working at Kempton last week. I knew I had to delay my challenge and not be in a big panic.”
It was an extraordinary training performance by Nicky Henderson. Bobs Worth had only run once this season and that was way back on December 12 when landing the Hennessy at Newbury.
“Bobs Worth is such an honest horse and a thorough professional that loves what he does. He loves coming up that hill, Barry just let him creep into it,” said Henderson. “There is only three weeks to Aintree, but I wouldn’t completely rule it out. There is also Punchestown, but we will just see how he is.”
It was a 50th festival winner for Henderson.
Willie Mullins is already planning his campaign around Sir Des Champs’ attempt to go one better next year. “He’s run a grand race, considering I didn’t think he was too happy throughout. He didn’t appear to travel at any stage, Tony was niggling all of the time. I would rather it hadn’t rained, but you can’t change these things. I’d like to come back on better ground, we’ll definitely come back for another go.”