by Ray Fleming

I f there is a more stirring spectacle in all of sport than the Gold Cup at Cheltenham, I don't know it. The setting of the Cotswold countryside, the huge knowledgeable crowd and the invariably successful challenge to the home-trained horses from the best of the Irish, are all features of its appeal. Then add the finest steeplechasers in training and you have an event that neither the Aintree Grand National nor the Epsom Derby can equal.

Yesterday's Gold Cup won by Bobs Worth, the favourite at odds of 11/4, was one of the finest from several perspectives. For Nicky Henderson, finding it difficult to hold back his tears of joy, it was a personal triumph as he trained both the winner and the third home, Long Run. For the jockey Barry Geraghty, who bought Bobs Worth as a yearling for 14'000 pounds, sold him on to Henderson's yard for 21'000 pounds, and has ridden him in all but one of his eight races, it was the completion of a unique achievement, bringing Bobs Worth for a late run seven lengths ahead of the second.

The Cheltenham Racecourse staff worked wonders to have the course in good condition despite bad weather and some night frosts. It has always been a fine attraction but now has been developed to welcome 80'000 racegoers and stage even more high class National Hunt events.