Thursday, March 13, 2014
More Of That wins World Hurdle at Cheltenham
CHELTENHAM, England -- Big Buck's, the greatest hurdler in British horse racing's recent history, was retired after fading to a fifth-place finish in the World Hurdle race won by More Of That at the Cheltenham Festival on Thursday.
The feature race on Day 3 of the festival was billed as a duel between Annie Power, the 11-8 favorite unbeaten in 10 races, and Big Buck's, who had won four of the previous five editions of the World Hurdle.
With the 11-year-old Big Buck's showing no speed in the final two furlongs, it was left to More Of That (15-2) to challenge Annie Power as they jumped the last hurdle side by side.
Annie Power, running over three miles (4,800 meters) for the first time, didn't have the stamina as More Of That stayed on impressively for the victory under Barry Geraghty.
Big Buck's, who won 23 races and more than 1 million pounds ($1.7 million) in prize money in his eight-year career, was given a round of applause as he circled the parade ring one last time after the race.
"This horse has been a legend and we don't want him to get hurt or something like that so we are going to end on a good note," trainer Paul Nicholls said. "We are mightily proud of him ... but just has not had the legs of old."
Big Buck's lost his unbeaten five-year record over hurdles in January when he was defeated in the Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham on his return from 13 months out injured, and was never in contention as he looked to regain his World Hurdle title.
Geraghty was given the ride on More Of That after champion jockey A.P. McCoy opted for At Fishers Cross for the World Hurdle. It proved to be a mistake by McCoy, with At Fishers Cross placing third.
"A.P. was the first to congratulate me," Geraghty said. "There's no hard feelings -- he's a true professional.
"He was a bit innocent when he got to the front, a bit unsure," Geraghty said of More Of That, running in only her fifth race, "but he kept going."
Earlier, McCoy grabbed his first victory of this week's festival when Taquin Du Seuil won the JLT Novices' Steeplechase.
McCoy rode through painon Thursday after being brought down on Goodwood Mirage on Wednesday. He was limping before the race and grimaced as he climbed down from Taquin Du Seuil.
"I was up in the night, I was not sure if I would ride," McCoy said. "But I felt if I managed myself right I could get through it. However sore I feel now, I would have felt a lot worse watching someone else win this."
Tom Scudamore had two winners, on 3-1 favorite Dynaste in the Ryanair Chase and Ballynagour in the Byrne Group Plate.