Bobs Worth pleases Henderson despite Ascot defeat

Life over fences has proved tougher for the talented Bobs Worth than it did when unbeaten over hurdles last term, but despite running a shade below public expectations trainer Nicky Henderson was delighted with his gelding’s second-place finish behind the impressive Invictus in the Grade 2 Sodexho Prestige Reynoldstown Novices Chase at Ascot at the weekend, writes Elliot Slater.

Winner of last season’s Grade 1 Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, expectations were understandably high for Bobs Worth who has always had the size and scope to make a three-mile chaser, and he made the best possible start when coming with a storming late run on his fencing bow at Newbury in November to beat the classy Cue Card in the final stride of the Grade 2 Fuller’s London Pride Novices’ Chase. Those following the best 2012 Cheltenham betting will have been very impressed indeed.

Sent to Kempton Park on Boxing Day to take on the awesome Grand Crus in the Grade 1 Feltham Novices Chase, the son of Bob Back never appeared at ease and was eventually left behind from the second last, finishing third behind David Pipe’s exciting young chaser and the Paul Nicholls-trained Silviniaco Conti. On the back of that effort Henderson decided to send Bobs Worth for a breathing operation, (which has reportedly been a success), but it appears that he was far from fully fit when he faced the starter at Ascot on Saturday. In the circumstances he probably did very well to overcome two blunders in the latter stages of the contest before staying on determinedly after the last to finish runner-up to Invictus, Silviniaco Conti fading after the final fence to be seven lengths further back in fourth.

Henderson confirmed his intention to send Bobs Worth to Cheltenham to contest the Grade 1 RSA Chase on March 14 and expects him to improve significantly on his Ascot effort, but bookmakers were not over-impressed and pushed him out from a pre-race mark of 4/1, to a current price of 6/1 second-favourite behind Grand Crus (2/1).