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(Reuters) - Irish jockey Barry Geraghty won the Cheltenham Gold Cup on a horse he once owned when favourite Bobs Worth prevailed in stamina-sapping conditions to land British jump racing's showpiece event on Friday.
Geraghty was patient and timed his run to perfection on the 11-4 chance to win by seven lengths in the three mile and a quarter slog on ground softened up by persistent heavy rain on the final day of the four-day Festival.
The jockey purchased Bobs Worth, now an eight-year-old, as a yearling for 16,000 euros (13,842 pounds) before sending him to the sales ring for a small profit three years later.
Bobs Worth, whose victory was worth 313,225 pounds to his owners, has won nine of his 12 starts for Nicky Henderson who has two Gold Cup wins after Long Run's 2011 triumph and is the most successful trainer ever at the Festival with 50 victories.
"It was brilliant," Geraghty told BBC radio. "He is such a great little horse who just loves the job.
"We had faith in the horse. Nicky knew he would have him fit enough - he knows how to get them ready for Cheltenham," added Geraghty who was also celebrating his second Gold Cup success after piloting Kicking King to victory in 2005.
Bobs Worth jumped to the front at the last of the 22 fences and powered up the hill to finish clear of Sir Des Champs (4-1), the mount of champion jockey Tony McCoy, and stablemate Long Run (7-2) who was forced to settle for third again as he did last year.
Geraghty said his joy was tempered by sadness over the serious neck injuries sustained by compatriot JT McNamara in a fall at the track on Thursday.
"I would love to be happier but all we're thinking about is John Thomas McNamara. I just hope and pray he's okay," he said.
McNamara underwent surgery on Friday after sustaining two fractured vertebrae in his neck. The amateur jockey was airlifted to hospital in an induced coma after his mount Galaxy Rock fell at the first fence in the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup.
There was drama in the race after the Gold Cup when, in a finish reminiscent of Devon Loch throwing away victory in the 1956 Grand National, teenage jockey Jane Mangan fell off Oscar Delta with the winning line in sight in the Foxhunter Chase.
The 18-year-old rider was clear at the front when Oscar Delta jinked into the running rail and shipped Mangan out of the saddle.
Mangan then put her hands to her head as the tears flowed.
She later put the incident in perspective, saying: "It was like a Disney film. When I hit the ground I thought I was dreaming but I'm not feeling as bad as the McNamaras".
(Writing by Justin Palmer, editing by Mark Meadows and Alison Wildey)