Throughout the morning all the talk had been about Sir Des Champs, as the rumour mill went off the scale with who would partner the Willie Mullins-trained raider in the Cheltenham Gold Cup and when news emerged 17-times champion jockey AP McCoy would team up with the Irish team following Sunnyhillboy’s withdrawal it was fully expected for the Co. Carlow star to storm to victory in the Grade One.
However, Sir Des Champs had to play second fiddle on the day to the diminutive Bobs Worth, who showed why he was sent off an 11/4 favourite for the blue riband event with a magical staying performance to hand Nicky Henderson his 50th winner at the Cheltenham Festival.
Barry Geraghty never appeared to be going as well as the leading pair of Sir Des Champs and Long Run, but he gradually got his dual festival winner into the race as they got into the business part of the contest and when the eye-catching Silviniaco Conti fell, it looked like the three leading principles would battle it out up the energy-sapping hill.
The Giant Bolster tried to hold on to the triumvirate, but Bobs Worth eased clear of him to go in search of the leading duo and approaching the last fence he jumped clear and stuck his neck out to stay on dourly up the hill to a cacophony of noise from the Prestbury Park stands with Sir Des Champs and Long Run filling out the placings.
A name that had been mentioned as a possible pilot for Sir Des Champs was Bryan Cooper, who would’ve been buoyed by his first festival winner on board Benefficient in Thursday’s Jewson, but he was never handed the call. Yet, he still managed to steal the show in the early part of the day as Our Conor romped to an emphatic victory in the Triumph Hurdle, as he notched up arguably the most impressive win of the entire meeting, whilst Cooper was on cloud nine 45 minutes later as Ted Veale eased to victory in the County Hurdle for Tony Martin.
McCoy was finally propelled into the limelight in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle as the well-backed At Fishers Cross got the better of African Gold in the 3m Grade One for novice hurdlers, whilst the champion jockey rounded off the meeting with another winning jolly as Alderwood romped to victory in the Grand Annual Chase.
The drama continued throughout the afternoon and Jane Mangan’s unseating after the last fence in the Foxhunters’ Chase was the strangest sight all week, as Colman Sweeney won his third amateurs' Gold Cup crown, but second on Salsify, as the 2/1 favourite benefitted from Mangan’s demise, whilst Paul Nicholls finally notched his one and only winner of the meeting as Salubrious, partnered by his nephew Harry Derham bagged glory in the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle.
A day full of thrills of spills and many will head home feeling a little subdued as the four days ends in stunning fashion, but the highlight of the event was won by an absolute cracker in Bobs Worth, who is sure to be back in 2014 to try and retain his Gold Cup crown.