The Barry Geraghty-Nicky Henderson alliance was further cemented when they combined for two brilliant successes with Bobs Worth and Simonsig, to go with Finian’s Rainbow’s gutsy victory in the Queen Mother Champion Chase.
Bobs Worth took the Grade 1 RSA Chase in the style of a horse who now has serious pretensions to landing the Gold Cup next year.
Sold as a youngster by Geraghty himself to Henderson, and a winner of the Albert Bartlett Hurdle here 12 months earlier, he has staying-power and courage in abundance.
The flashy grey, Grands Crus, was all the rage in the ring, but didn’t have the bottle when getting down and dirty was the requirement.
He flattered approaching the home turn, but was beaten in a matter of strides, as the winner and Mouse Morris’ First Lieutenant moved on with their business.
They had a real battle, but from the back of the final fence it was always going in favour of Bobs Worth and he was a cosy two and a half lengths to the good at the line.
Said Geraghty: “I bought the horse as a yearling and Nicky bought him off me as a four-year-old, or should I say robbed him off me.
“He’s a lovely game and genuine horse and clearly likes this place. He jumped well and I knew at the second last that, although I was half a length down, I had Davy (Russell, First Lieutenant) covered. I gave him a chance to fill up and he had enough pace.”
Morris said of First Lieutenant: “The ground was probably a bit dead for him. Davy said there was a patch between the last two where it was a bit softer and he rather paddled through it a bit. He’s a horse who needs genuine good ground.
“But I’m not using that as an excuse. He jumped well, gave it everything and was beaten by a better horse on the day.
“He’s genuine Grade 1 and, if all goes well, should be back here again next year for the next step, the Gold Cup.”
Simonsig toyed with his rivals on the way to an easy win in the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle.
Indeed, it would be no great exaggeration to say he was almost as impressive as his much celebrated stable companion, Sprinter Sacre, on Tuesday.
The grey was left in front when Cotton Mill got it all wrong two out, ducking out, and he absolutely bounded clear up the straight to beat the Irish pair, Felix Yonger and Monksland.
Said Geraghty: “What happened at the second last didn’t matter. Some company would have been nice, but he jumped the second last well and then went and popped the last.
“I rode him work last Saturday week and he’s top class. He’s very raw, but is a lovely horse and travels so well.”
The double moved Henderson onto the 42nd winner at the festival and that later became 44, which is now four ahead of the record previously held by the late Fulke Walwyn.
“You can’t do it without the horses and the staff and I’ve been very lucky with both over the years,” remarked Henderson.
“The team of owners have sent me some wonderful horses and my staff, with Corky at the helm for so many years, have looked after them wonderfully well.” The Corky to whom Henderson was referring, of course, is Albert Browne, who is originally from Carrigtwohill, Co Cork.
Continuing, Henderson said: “In hindsight the choice we made (regarding which race Simonsig should go for) seems a sensible one.
“We thought the longer race would give him time to get organised at his hurdles. He was still a bit untidy at some, but will learn.”
Willie Mullins was more than pleased with Felix Yonger. “We brought the horse to see how he was and I’m delighted with him,” said Mullins.
“He’s a fine big scopey horse and, hopefully, will go to Punchestown now. He will go chasing next season.”
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