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Last Updated: March 14, 2013 5:25pm
Bobs Worth: 'Not proven in this league'
Jockey Barry Geraghty would not swap Bobs Worth for anything else in the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup on Friday.
Geraghty has a strong affinity with the Gold Cup favourite and snapped him up as a yearling before selling him on to his boss, Nicky Henderson.
A few years down the line and Bobs Worth is now aiming for a piece of history by winning three different races at The Festival.
Having already bagged the Albert Bartlett and the RSA Chase, Henderson's charge is now gunning for the biggest prize of them all off the back of just one run this season, a winning reappearance in the Hennessy.
"I think it's irrelevant (that he hasn't had a run)," Geraghty told At The Races. "He's had no hold-ups. He scoped badly but he never missed a day of work.
"He worked at Kempton a couple of weeks ago and went really well, he seems in great shape and I wouldn't swap him. Myself and my brother bought him as a yearling and Nicky bought him off us so I've known him a long time."
Henderson also thinks the lack of a recent run for Bobs Worth, who goes so well fresh, is not as big a deal as it would have been with many other horses.
"He missed a prep race, but the ground was so bad at the time - we've had soft ground since October," he said.
"He's a good horse. He's proved he's a Grade One winner as a novice, but not in this league. Then again, it's a very open year."
Malcolm Kimmins, Bobs Worth's part-owner, is living the dream.
"I think he goes there with a favourite's chance and it's exciting times," he said.
"The ground was pretty soft when he won the Hennessy and as long as there isn't a torrential downpour I'm sure he'll be fine. It is well documented he hasn't run since the Hennessy, but everyone knows Nicky is a past master at getting horses to Cheltenham at their very best."
Henderson also has an unbelievably strong second string to his bow in the shape of 2011 winner Long Run, who landed a second King George at Christmas.
"I think we're happy, he came back and won the King George, it was a bit of an untidy one admittedly but he won it," said the Seven Barrows handler.
"He likes Cheltenham and I do think he was a bit flat last year - I can't say he is miles better this year, but I think he is better. The whole race has a look to it that there's a very, very big door that's wide open and inviting someone go through.
"There are a lot of very good horses but room for a star to come out of it. Long Run has got his King George back, he's got to get his Gold Cup back and probably shouldn't be twice the price of Bobs Worth. Everything is in good order, I just think it's terribly open."Sir Des Champs is also going for a third different Festival win, although his victories have not been in Grade Ones. He claimed the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' race two years ago and the Jewson last season.
The seven-year-old was last seen defeating Flemenstar in the Irish Hennessy.
Trainer Willie Mullins is enjoying a fantastic week, but has never won the Gold Cup.
"He's two out of two (at Cheltenham). Bobs Worth is four out of four and he's got pretty good form going in there. If he can run his usual good race there, it's all to play for," said Mullins.
"If he can just keep those errors out of his jumping, he has every chance. He's a top-class horse but he's in against top-class horses and you don't win Gold Cups easily.
"If he can keep his jumping right, then we will just have to take what we get. The Gold Cup is certainly an ambition of mine."
He was due to be ridden by Davy Russell but will have a new pilot after the jockey was ruled out with a punctured lung.
Russell suffered a fall on Wednesday from Un Beau Matin in the Coral Cup but attempted to ride in the first two races on Thursday.
After finishing unplaced on Argocat in the Jewson and Stonemaster in the Pertemps Final, Russell was struggling to breath before his problem was diagnosed.
"Willie (Mullins) has tightened the screw as the year has gone on. The horse is getting better as the year progresses and I don't think he's hugely ground dependent," said Russell before the injury was diagnosed.
"The general thing with Sir Des Champs is that he does enjoy going to the likes of Cheltenham. He's a better horse on a big day. Cheltenham will suit Sir Des Champs more than a lot of horses. Of course Bobs Worth is a specialist around Cheltenham as well.
"There'd be a chance with everything going to plan that Bobs Worth seems to be the horse that we all need to beat."
Paul Nicholls saddles Silviniaco Conti, who is unbeaten in three runs this season.
"He's won his last four chases, and he's three from three this year. He's run in great Gold Cup trials and he keeps winning," said the Ditcheat handler.
"He does everything right - he keeps jumping, he travels well and he keeps winning. He's not flashy - he just does the job - and that's what I like about him.
"People say he doesn't have Cheltenham experience but that's only because he hasn't been there. He jumps well, has a bit of pace and he stays.
"It's an interesting race but I'm very happy with him. You'd have to think we'd have a grand chance. We're not going into the race thinking we are going to win, but we think we've got a chance and we're looking forward to it. I'm really happy with my lad."
The Gold Cup tends to suit a certain type of horse and The Giant Bolster outran his odds last season to finish second.
David Bridgwater's inmate has been trained specifically for the race again this year but yet again arrives at a big price.
"We're looking forward to it. He's got a great each-way chance," said Bridgwater. "You've only got half a dozen races you can run them in, but if you don't have them right, then it's tough luck.
"He wasn't having an inch of it in the King George, but he was back on track at Newbury and we were very excited. You can't beat the form of last year's race and it will be an interesting contest this time around.
"It would be silly to say that we are going to win the Gold Cup - anyone would be delighted to be placed in the race and winning it would be a bonus."
It seems a long time since Jodami won the Gold Cup for the north back in 1993 but they have a genuine contender this year in Malcolm Jefferson's Cape Tribulation.
A winner at the Festival over hurdles 12 months ago, he saw off Imperial Commander in the Argento Chase in January.
"He's handicapped that he has to go in these sort of races," said Jefferson. "I know it's a tough shot, but if he ran well in it there's good place money.
"If you look at both his hurdle races the way he stays on he can find more. He's really versatile. If he gets a good gallop, he stays."
Jockey Denis O'Regan has struck up a good partnership with Cape Tribulation.
"I'm glad he's going in under the radar. He's won at Cheltenham twice, he's in good form and he's an improving nine-year-old," said O'Regan.
"He's got better and stronger and he's got a lot more confidence in jumping fences now. He beat Imperial Commander at Cheltenham last time and I feel the extra two furlongs will suit him as well.
"I'm hoping they will go very quick, he will pass a few going up the hill and who knows what will happen."
Despite winning an Arkle and finishing second in this season's King George, Captain Chris is still available at a big price.
However, the nine-year-old has tended to jump to his right when he runs at Cheltenham.
Trainer Philip Hobbs said: "He all but won the King George and he might have won at Ascot the other day so I think he's undoubtedly a very good horse if we get everything right on the day.
"He runs against the very best and performs very creditably a lot of the time so he's not without a chance.
"It's a minor disadvantage going left-handed but I don't think he's so inclined to go right as last season.
"It's less of a problem than it was. When he's won the Arkle there's no reason not to run him.
"He can cope well with very soft ground, but if it keeps on drying up it will be in our favour.
"He's in good form, Long Run is obviously one of the fancied ones and we nearly beat him in the King George so he's got to have a chance.
"I hope our best chance is Captain Chris in the Gold Cup."
One of those at an even bigger price is Wayward Prince, a winner at Aintree but pulled up in the Argento for owner-trainer Hilary Parrott.
"He's run well at Cheltenham in the past and was third in the RSA when a blanket could have covered them," she said.
"It's an open race, he's obviously an outsider, but if you're not in it you can't win it."
Tony McCoy won the Gold Cup last season on Synchronised and this time rides Sunnyhillboy, who is likely to head for the Grand National, in which he was narrowly touched off last year, after this.
"I think Jonjo (O'Neill, trainer) believed there would be fewer runners (than in a handicap) and it's the place to go. He hasn't run over fences this year but hopefully he'll run OK," said McCoy.
Welsh National winner Monbeg Dude has also been declared for Saturday's Midlands National at Uttoxeter and may be pulled out of the Gold Cup if the forecast rain fails to arrive.
"I couldn't be happier with him but we're praying for rain," said trainer Michael Scudamore, whose brother, Tom, rides The Giant Bolster.
"Rain is forecast but I just hope it comes in time for it to sink in.
"If the rain didn't come and it dried up to be good ground then we'd have to seriously consider pulling him put and running him at Uttoxeter instead.
"The Gold Cup is first choice, though, and we'd hope to pick up a bit of prize-money."