Bobs Worth charges to a convincing win in Saturday's HennessyPICTURE: Edward Whitaker / racingpost.com/photos
Bobs Worth claims Hennessy for Henderson
Report: Newbury, Saturday
Hennessy Gold Cup (Grade 3 handicap) 3m2½f, 4yo+
ANTE-POST Hennessy favourite Bobs Worth now heads the betting for the Cheltenham Gold Cup after a convincing win in Newbury's historic staying chase on Saturday.
Last season's RSA Chase winner is now 7-2 (from 6) with Paddy Power to return to Cheltenham in March and land the Gold Cup after he beat top-weight Tidal Bay.
First Lieutenant, who had raced prominently, was third with The Package claiming fourth and Hold On Julio taking fifth.
Given a patient ride by Barry Geraghty, the Nicky Henderson-trained seven-year-old was settled in midfield early on but slowly improved his position in what looked another demanding Hennessy test.
Entering the straight he was travelling in eyecatching fashion and cruised upsides First Lieutenant just before the last.
Another solid leap at that helped him seal a famous victory, despite a late charge from the enigmatic Tidal Bay.
"He was the young pretender and if he is going to make it to the top level he probably did have to win," said Henderson, who was capturing his second Hennessy after Trabolgan in 2005.
"Even so, it's mighty nice to win. Earlier in the season I wasn't happy with him. Things started to fall into place and three nights ago I looked at him at evening stables and thought 'hello!'
"I'm not convinced the King George is the right race for him but he loves Cheltenham and it will just be a matter of plotting our way gently to the Gold Cup. We know he loves Cheltenham and we know he's going to stay so we have to go there."
William Hill clipped the 4-1 winner to 5-1 (from 7) for the Gold Cup. He is 4-1 (from 6) with BetVictor and 5-1 (from 8) with Ladbrokes, who were left counting the cost of the result.
"It was the result we were dreading," said the firm's David Williams.
"Bobs Worth was tremendously expensive and the places were almost as bad. We'll need a few bottles from the sponsors to help us forget a costly day."
Hills also gave Tidal Bay a Gold Cup quote - 16-1 - and the Lexus Chase could be next for him.
Ruby Walsh, who partnered him, said: "It was a cracking run; those second-season novices are just a bit ahead. When I pinged the last I thought I had a chance, but I knew Barry hadn't gone for everything."