Hennessy Gold Cup preview

JUST five may have turned up for the Betfair Chase last Saturday but the Hennessy Gold Cup promises to be something completely different. Seventeen go to post for the £200,000 contest, one of the oldest and greatest races of the season on Saturday. It is the major highlight of the three-day bet365 Festival at Newbury, which started on Thursday.

Despite the defection of Coneygree, the race has retained much of its appeal as a contest both for the purists and punters. Saphir Du Rheu is a solid enough favourite. The six-year-old won a Grade One novices’ chase at Aintree last season and also made a winning comeback when comfortably landing a Listed chase by seven lengths from The Young Master at Carlisle on November 1.

As well as The Young Master, trainer Neil Mulholland is represented by The Druids Nephew, seventh in last year’s renewal before going on to take a Grade Three handicap chase at the Cheltenham Festival.

Colin Tizzard expects the likely pace of the race to play into the hands of Theatre Guide. The eight-year-old, who runs in the same colours as Cue Card, shaped well on his reappearance when third at Wetherby.

Bobs Worth landed the race in 2012 before winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2013. He got back to winning ways when defeating Simonsig in a conditions hurdle at Aintree on November 7 and is racing from a 7lb lower mark than when winning in 2012. He looks well handicapped but I’m not sure the testing ground will play to his strengths.

Alan King’s stable has been in great form and he saddles Smad Place and Ned Stark. Smad Place finished a staying-on fifth last year with the trainer blaming himself for not giving him a prep run. He won a graduation chase by eight lengths from Fingal Bay at Kempton on November 2, while the lightly-raced Ned Stark was a Grade Two scorer at Wetherby last season. The latter is a progressive and scopey individual and looks excellent each-way value at a best priced 12/1. I suspect his price will contract further.

Other contenders include Houblon Des Obeaux, who was runner-up to Many Clouds in 2014 and also chased home Coneygree in the Betfair Denman Chase at Newbury in February, while If In Doubt disappointed on his final start of last season in the Irish Grand National but triumphed in the Listed Sky Bet Chase at Doncaster.

The Irish are represented by Urano and Mouse Morris’s First Lieutenant, who finished third to Bobs Worth back in 2012.

Selection: Ned Stark (each-way)


One thought on “Hennessy Gold Cup preview”

  1. Graham Oliver says:

    Hi Jason,

    As you may have gathered from my comments a few days ago the Hennessy is one of my favourite races of the NH season.

    My favourite ever winner, it would have to be Spanish Steps. He was only a six year old, but he cruised home by, if my memory serves me correct, by fifteen lengths. And Jason…I did actually have a decent bet on him, as I did with other favourites Fighting Fit, Bright Highway, Bregawn, and Brown Chamberlin. I had a fair few losers as well, but you don’t remember them.

    I was annoyed with myself for not backing Stalbridge Colonist when he beat Arkle in 1966. I think his SP was either 20-1 or 25-1. As a novice the previous season Stalbridge had won something like eight or ten ‘chases. He was near the top of the pile. Even though he only carried 10st in the Hennessy, 35lb less than the half length runner up Arkle, I started to fancy him for the Gold Cup. When Arkle was forced to retire after the King George Stalbridge was the one for me. He eventually finished second in the Gold Cup, beaten less than a length by the Terry Biddlecombe ridden Woodland Venture, a horse who normally had problems completing the course, and was only a novice. I suppose if Arkle had been able to run the form book says he would have won in 1967 by about thirty lengths. He was a true superstar, the best steeple chaser of all time, although his stable companion Flyingbolt, was probably not far behind him.

    The icing on the cake, for me however, that term was the Whitbread Gold Cup and what a brilliant finale to the season it was. Arkle’s old rival Mill House, ridden by David Nicholson, led virtually from start to finish under 11st 11lb and plugged on up the Sandown hill to beat that good ‘chaser Kapeno. “Not a dry eye in the house” would be an apt description of the feeling’s of the fortunate crowd that day.

    I wish you well with your each-way selection for this year’s renewal. Ned Stark obviously has claims, however i do fancy Bobs Worth to return to something like his old best. He may be chased home by Ned’s stable companion Smad Place. The Young Master may reverse placings with his Carlisle conqueror Saphir Du Rheu to finish third. That’s the forecast anyway!


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