But in the end it was a victory for More Of That on the 3rd day of the Cheltenham Festival (13 March). It was a battle to the line between the mare Annie Power and More Of That, while Big Buck’s had to settle for 5th.
Trained by Jonjo O’Neill, More Of That provided owner JP McManus and jockey Barry Geraghty with a 2nd major win of the Festival, after taking the Champion Hurdle with Jezki on Tuesday (11 March).
More Of That is now unbeaten in 5 races.
“I was always happy with my fellow, and while I could see Ruby [Walsh] coming on the favourite [Annie Power] I was always confident my fellow could find more. When I gave him a squeeze he had more in reserve,” said Geraghty.
“It’s only his 5th run and to have jumped and travelled the way he did was remarkable.”
Annie Power, who had been 10 wins from 10 starts coming into the race, was beaten 1 and a half lengths by More Of That.
The mare, who was running over 3m for the 1st time, was sent off 11/8 favourite. The pair had a battle to the line, but the 6-year-old couldn’t quite get up.
“I think that she ran to her mark and we were beaten by a better horse,” said trainer Willie Mullins.
AP McCoy, who could have chosen to ride More Of That, finished 3rd on McManus’ other runner, At Fishers Cross.
Meanwhile the 4-times World Hurdle hero Big Buck’s finished 5th. He was later retired.
“As far as the race was concerned everything went as I would have liked, I was in the right place at the right time but obviously he is 11 now,” said jockey Sam Twiston-Davies.
“Just when we turned in, he didn’t have the legs. He is back safely and that is the main thing. I am as happy as I have ever been finishing fifth.
Big Buck’s retired
The 11-year-old was retired by connections after the race. Owned by The Stewart Family, Big Buck’s had been on an unbeaten streak of 18 hurdles races before finishing 3rd in the Cleeve Hurdle in January.
He had been off for more than a year with a tendon injury, which he picked up in December 2012.
Trainer Paul Nicholls announced the horse’s retirement immediately after the race. Big Buck’s then did a parade around the paddock for his fans.
“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,” said Nicholls.
“He will have an honourable retirement. He has been a pleasure to train.”
He added that Rose Loxton, his groom, will probably end up looking after the horse.
Showjumper wins charity race
Showjumper Vicky Laing, who trains with Tim Stockdale, won the St Patrick’s Derby.
Vicky was riding the Ian Williams-trained Gifted Leader and won by 2 and half lengths.
Former Pony Clubber Vicky also events, as well as showjumps up to 1.40m.
“It’s a completely different kettle of fish to eventing and showjumping,” said Vicky. “The speed that you go at the 1 mile 5 furlong trip is a lot different to the four miles around Burghley and obviously there are no jumps.”
The race in aid of Cancer Research UK and it is hoped that this year’s race pushes the total raised for the charity over £1 million.