More Of That (right) and Annie Power go toe-to-toe in the World HurdlePICTURE: John Grossick (racingpost.com/photos)
Cheltenham Festival: More Of That shines under Geraghty
Report: Cheltenham Festival, Thursday
Ladbrokes World Hurdle (Grade 1) 3m, 5yo+
BARRY GERAGHTY won Tuesday's Champion Hurdle on a JP McManus second string and captured the Ladbrokes World Hurdle on another when he partnered More Of That to victory over Annie Power in Thursday's highlight, a race in which four-time winner Big Buck's failed to fire and was subsequently retired.
Champion jockey and McManus's number one rider Tony McCoy opted to partner My Tent Or Yours over Jezki in the Champion and he got it wrong again when More Of That stormed up the Cheltenham hill to record a famous triumph under Geraghty.
He had a length and a half to spare over star mare Annie Power, who did not surrender her ten-race unbeaten record without a fight. However, even with the assistance of Ruby Walsh, she could not reel in the 15-2 winner, now five from five over hurdles.
McCoy had deserted More Of That on his debut in a maiden hurdle at Folkestone in December 2012, but had partnered him on his next three starts, including a fluent Grade 2 victory at Cheltenham last time.
He said his decision to ride At Fishers Cross, who finished third at 9-1, was harder than the My Tent Or Yours-Jezki conundrum, leaving Geraghty delighted to pick up such a top ride in a championship race.
Holding up the promising six-year-old, Geraghty made smooth progress, but Walsh was tanking on Annie Power, whose connections faced their own tricky dilemma as to which race she should run in.
They were confident she would have enough stamina for the World Hurdle, but she could not reel in More Of That, whose rider said: "He's a good horse and I was always happy out there. Ruby looked to be travelling but I always felt I had enough.
"It's only his fifth run and he was a bit innocent when he hit the front and wasn't all that sure but he kept battling for me."
More Of That's trainer Jonjo O'Neill provided Geraghty with his other World Hurdle success on Iris's Gift in 2004 and was understandably overjoyed.
"I thought he'd stay but you never know - she [Annie Power] gave us a fair fright," said O'Neill, who knows a thing or two about great mares having ridden Dawn Run to win the Champion Hurdle and Cheltenham Gold Cup.
"It's all come together nicely. He doesn't show you that at home, he just goes about his business and does nothing flash but he's shown us today he's a proper horse."
Big Buck's is also a proper horse and connections called time on his brilliant career after he finished fifth under Sam Twiston-Davies.
The popular 11-year-old, denied the chance to land a fifth World Hurdle through injury last year, was a creditable third after a lengthy layoff at Cheltenham in January, but showed little of the zip that helped him win 18 races in a row from January 2009 and December 2012.
Willie Mullins, who trains Annie Power, said: "She ran a fantastic race and jumped from hurdle to hurdle. She is probably a little keen to be a three-miler and was probably a little too keen early in the race but she still ran a terrific race.
"She was just beaten by a better horse on the day. I'll let the form experts tell me if she ran her race but I think she probably did."