Jockey Barry Geraghty believes Hennessy Gold Cup winner Bobs Worth deserves to be the ante-post favourite for the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Last season’s RSA Chase winner, trained by Nicky Henderson, turned in a virtuoso display when defeating Tidal Bay by three and a quarter lengths at Newbury on Saturday.
Geraghty said: “The only concern I had was traffic and congestion (in a big field), but he took to it.
“He’s a very easy ride. He just does as much as you ask him to do – nothing really flash – but every time you ask for a little bit of an effort, he delivers.
“He has the right profile (for the Gold Cup) – he’s an RSA winner and is four from four at Cheltenham.
“There’s every reason for Bobs Worth to be at the head of the market.”
Trainer Paul Nicholls reported runner-up Tidal Bay returned unscathed from the Hennessy, and he will now head for the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown on December 28.
Nicholls wrote in his Betfair blog: “If he was a six or seven-year-old, and not pushing 12, he would be just about be second favourite for the Gold Cup now.
“The likes of Silviniaco Conti – and Al Ferof and Kauto Stone – are shorter than him in the betting for Cheltenham and have youth and potential on their side. But on pure form, there is not a lot between them.
“So, as it is, Tidal Bay is a massive price (at around 40-1) for the Gold Cup on Betfair. And that could look even bigger after the Lexus, where he goes next.
“I can’t tell you how much of a changed horse he is physically this season — maybe a bi-product of his different and varied training regime here – and that seems to have translated to his performances on the track.
“I just love training these older horses.
“Perhaps now Timeform will consider losing the squiggle from his rating.
“After all, that second (on Saturday) came off a mark of 166 and has to be a career-best for him, and it was his third top class performance in a row.
“And that is saying something considering what he has done in the past. Don’t forget he won an Arkle by 13 lengths.”
The revitalised 11-year-old could renew rivalry with First Lieutenant at Leopardstown.
Trainer Mouse Morris’ decision to travel with the seven-year-old gelding was vindicated after he finished an honourable third.
“It was a pity the ground was tacky, but he ran a big race,” said County Tipperary-based Morris.
“He jumped super and was given a great ride – what more can you ask?
“I’ll have to talk to Michael (O’Leary, owner), but we’ll probably go for the Lexus.”
Carruthers is under consideration for a cross-country campaign after he finished last in his quest to win consecutive renewals of the race.
The Mark Bradstock-trained nine-year-old found Newbury’s feature too hot to handle and could now be freshened up for a new career.
Sara Bradstock, wife of the Oxon-based handler, said: “He’s probably as well as he ever has been, but he’s feeling mentally over-faced by where he is in the handicap.
“We won’t run him in a good race again until we’ve got him back to where we want him.
“I think what we might try to do is see if he likes the cross-country races — it’s another option for him.
“He doesn’t want to go flat out in races like that (the Hennessy) any more, but he is very, very nimble and doesn’t want to retire.”
Frisco Depot was quietly fancied to do well in the Hennessy, but he was pulled up before the third fence from home. Trainer Charlie Longsdon feels something may have been amiss.
“He’s fine, but we was disappointing,” said Longsdon. “He stopped fairly quickly, so I’ll probably get his wind checked before we think about making plans.”
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