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Last Updated: 26/04/14 6:59pm
Hadrian's Approach edges out Burton Port
Barry Geraghty has gained from AP McCoy's loss on more than one occasion this season and again edged out his great friend and rival in the bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown.
Geraghty rode both Jezki and More Of That to victory at the Cheltenham Festival after they had been discarded by McCoy and then landed the Irish National on Shutthefrontdoor with the perennial Champion Jockey sidelined.
There was no such dilemma for McCoy on this occasion as he was aboard Burton Port for Jonjo O'Neill with Geraghty riding Hadrian's Approach (10/1) for Nicky Henderson but he had to play second fiddle to his nemesis yet again.
For much of the final half mile of the historic handicap, it appeared as though Burton Port was going to win as he liked but Geraghty had nursed his mount, so often a suspect jumper, through the race and wouldn't accept defeat.
Burton Port jumped the last marginally in front but Hadrian's Approach fought his way past him on the hill and, despite wavering slightly when hitting the front, held on by three quarters of a length.
The pair finished two and a half lengths clear of Godsmejudge in third with Restless Harry fourth.
Henderson said: "It always looked as if AP (McCoy) was going the better of the two, but Barry wasn't for giving up. They were both tough, as it was a tough race in that ground.
"I thought it would be too soft for our horse, but he does stay - he stays really well. He might not be the most predictable character and he was disappointing at Cheltenham.
"He ran very well in this race last year (finished fifth) and we took him to Scotland a couple of weeks ago for the Scottish Grand National. The ground was very soft on the morning of the race, so we took him out and decided to bring him back here.
"To be honest, the ground is only marginally better, but Barry gave him a wonderful ride. He just let him creep into it and I don't think he knew he was in a race until he had to ask him. He had to dig pretty deep for it, but he got it.
"He's got his own style of doing it. He might not be flamboyant, but he stays and his jumping has improved. He started in the Hennessy Gold Cup last year and I would think he'll do so again next season, but we'll see. I don't think Aintree (the Grand National) beckons for him next year. We've got a bit of time to enjoy today."
"We've got a lot to look forward to. It's been a good year really. We've had ups and downs all the way though - we've talked about all the crocodiles all year. In fairness the number of winners is up on last year but it's been slightly frustrating. We'll just have to start again with a leather-thumping Punchestown!"
The stewards took a dim view of Geraghty's ride though, banning him for nine days (May 10-18 inclusive) and fining him £3,150 for using his whip above the permitted level.
O'Neill said of the runner-up: "It was brilliant and I'm thrilled. He did everything right and just got beaten by a better one on the day. He jumped liked a buck, he travelled great and there are no excuses, unfortunately! He didn't stop, he kept going but he's as cute as a fox. He's good on his day."
Alan King, trainer of Godsmejudge, said: "He ran a tremendous race only two weeks after Ayr, he's probably a little bit better going left handed but he was still coming back and he kept digging. I always hoped the Grand National would be his target this year, but hopefully we'll train him for it next year."