Bobs Worth gives Henderson welcome Lexus lift
Bobs Worth jumped to the top of the ante-post market for the Gold Cup when lifting yesterday's Lexus Chase at Leopardstown, giving his trainer Nicky Henderson something to smile about following a sequence of major disappointments, headed by Sprinter Sacre's heart complaint which continues to worry connections.
What a difference 24 hours can make. Henderson had suffered reverse after reverse in recent weeks, and he admitted that confidence levels were low. "Two days ago, I'd have given anything to take him (Bobs Worth) out," the trainer confessed. "But Barry (Geraghty) assured me the ground would be decent, and he explained that if we waited for the Argento and it came up very soft, then we would only have four or five weeks till the Gold Cup."
Amid the post-race mayhem in the winner's enclosure, Geraghty shouted: "Thanks for coming lads, see you back here again next year."
Geraghty's timely persuasion was priceless. Bobs Worth returned to his Gold Cup-winning form, producing a powerpacked finish to gallop past First Lieutenant on the run-in, winning snugly in the end by a length and a half. The Willie Mullins-trained French recruit Rubi Ball was a further length back in third. Sir Des Champs finished fourth.
Geraghty described Bobs Worth's understated style as "an impersonation of workmanlike, though he showed speed this time."
It would be dangerous to underestimate Bobs Worth in any Grade One chase now that he has regained top form. "He is a horse who never stops surprising you," said Henderson. "He had to be handy around here today."
Bobs Worth had miraculously come back to his best, having been beaten 40 lengths by Cue Card 35 days earlier when a distant sixth in the Betfair Chase at Haydock. This time, he beat a very strong field.
"That was high-class today, on this track, on this ground," said Henderson. "I was facing a mountain after Haydock. He had been thumped into the ground. To go from the Gold Cup to (the poor run at) Haydock hurt like hell."
The question now for Henderson is whether he should squeeze in another run for Bobs Worth before Cheltenham.
GOLDEN MOMENT FOR GERAGHTY, PAGE 11
That is something he can ponder while not caught up in the ongoing concern for Sprinter Sacre, whose heart condition continued to be monitored yesterday as the two-mile champion chaser was moved to a veterinary clinic in Newmarket. Henderson reported that the horse's condition was similar to that which afflicted Denman several years ago.
Zaidpour, with Ruby Walsh on board, went one better than last year when winning the Christmas Hurdle. A beaten favourite 12 months ago, the Willie Mullins-trained seven-year-old took full advantage of Solwhit's absence to claim the third Grade One of his career.
Having won the opening maiden hurdle with Sure Reef, Mullins and Walsh brought up a treble when favourite Djakadam made a successful seasonal debut in the Ballymaloe Country Relish Beginners Chase.