More Of That foils massive Power gamble

A massive gamble went astray on Willie Mullins’ Annie Power, after the mare failed to get to grips with Jonjo O’Neill’s More Of That, brilliantly ridden by Barry Geraghty, in the Ladbrokes’ World Hurdle at Cheltenham yesterday.

More Of That foils massive Power gamble

There are those who believe jockeys are the worst judges in the world and certainly this is a race Tony McCoy will not look back on with any great relish.

He could have ridden the winner, but instead went with JP McManus’ other runner, At Fishers Cross, who finished a well-beaten third.

For McCoy it was essentially a case of adding insult to injury. On Tuesday he had a choice between the McManus pair, Jezki and My Tent Or Yours, in the Champion Hurdle.

He nodded in the direction of My Tent Or Yours and then had to suffer the agony of having to give best to Jezki, and Geraghty of course, in a driving finish.

At least on this occasion, McCoy knew his fate well before the final flight, as Annie Power and More Of That went away from him.

The principals were in the air together at the obstacle, but it soon became obvious that the rugged More Of That was going to be too strong for the mare.

Annie Power, unbeaten in 10 races previously, gave everything she had, but More Of That kept finding for an inspired Geraghty and was a length and a half to the good at the line.

Geraghty had previously won the World Hurdle 10 years earlier for O’Neill on the grey, Iris’s Gift.

Geraghty said: “AP was the first man to congratulate me. There is no ill-feeling with him, he is a true professional. This is a good horse.

“I was always happy with my fellow and, while I could see Ruby coming (on Annie Power), I was always confident my lad would find more. When I gave him a squeeze, he had more in reserve.

“It’s only his fifth run and to have jumped and travelled the way he did was remarkable.

“He was a little innocent when hitting the front, a little unsure, but kept going. He stayed really well.”

O’Neill said: “We were very pleased with this horse, he was in great old form, just coming along nicely.

“We didn’t run him in the heavy ground and I think that suited, because he is a big frame of a horse, just coming to himself.

“He doesn’t show a lot at home, is real placid, goes about his business and never does anything flash.

“Jumping the last, I thought he would keep galloping. I had a little doubt in my mind that Annie Power might not quite get home, but she gave us a fair fright.

“AP was adamant he wanted to stay on At Fishers Cross, Barry wasn’t too bad, was he?”

Ruby Wash was distraught afterwards and there was no consoling him.

He was utterly convinced he should have ridden a different race and that his decision to track At Fishers Cross, rather than the eventual winner, may have cost him first place.

You would have to think he was being especially hard on himself.

Annie Power, who was far too free for her own good, arrived with every chance in the straight and, at least to my eyes, just wasn’t good enough on the day.

Mullins was more sanguine and it is a view with which he readily agreed. Mullins said: “I think she ran to her mark and we were beaten by a better horse.

“We were in a good position at all stages and I don’t have any excuses. She jumped very well, I can’t say she made a mistake, got penned in or anything like that. It was a good horse race. We will look at everything for her. We have been at every trip this season and we will see how she comes out of this and what race to go for.

“She might go to Liverpool, but I would say Punchestown is more likely. That would have been a hugely hard race and, time-wise, Punchestown would be a bit better.”

Paul Nicholls’ Big Buck’s, who won the World Hurdle on four occasions, was promptly retired, after trailing in a disappointing fifth.

He ran prominently for a long way, but his old legs were gone long before the straight and the decision to pull the plug at this stage was a wise one.

Nicholls said: “This horse has been a legend and we don’t want him to get hurt, or something like that, so we are going to end on a good note. We are mighty proud of him.

“We had to try it today, but you have got to be sensible and draw stumps at the right time. He will have an honourable retirement.”

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