Will there be tears for Triolo D’Alene in the Hennessy?

Pic: Racing UK. THE script is written. A potential tear-jerker if ever there was one. But if a certain chestnut wins the Hennessy Gold Cup on Saturday, there won’t be a dry eye down at Seven Barrows. The loss of Simonsig at Cheltenham hit Nicky Henderson like a sickening punch to the stomach, coming two hours after he announced the retirement of Sprinter Sacre. But in the sombre aftermath Henderson could only think of Simonsig’s owner, his lad and his best equine buddy, TRIOLO D’ALENE. The grey and the chestnut were best pals and followed each other everywhere. Victory for Triolo on Saturday would be somewhat emotional and beautifully fitting.

It would also be remarkable because Triolo D’Alene won the Hennessy in 2013 off a mark of 147. He has only raced seven times since then and is, amazingly, still only nine. He goes well fresh but he needs decent ground and with no more rain forecast this week he may get his wish. The ground is currently good to soft (soft in places) and is unlikely to get any softer. The 33/1 available is worth a sensible albeit slightly sentimental each-way poke.

It’s incredible how many racing folk say that the Hennessy Gold Cup is their favourite race of the year. On the face of it, it is a Grade Three Handicap Chase. But, for some reason, it is regarded with great affection by the racing public and punters alike. This year has added poignancy as it is the final year of Hennessy’s 60-year sponsorship.

I love SMAD PLACE. His victory last year was one of the highlights of the jumps season. The horse loves Newbury (he made a winning debut there in a soft ground juvenile hurdle) and the wide open galloping track suits him ideally. He is 10lb higher this year and some would say he has an impossible task with 11st 12lb. Sure, he looks vulnerable at the weights and it would take a titanic, Denman-esque display to win but he cannot be ruled out, especially if he gets into a phythm with his jumping and puts pressure on the second-season novices. Actually, at around 11/1 (his current best price), he is solid each-way value to finish in the first four. His comeback run at Aintree was very promising and, like Cue Card, this is another old boy who clearly retains his ability. But he would prefer the ground to be as soft as possible, which he may not get with a dry forecast for the rest of this week.

NATIVE RIVER is the ante-post favourite to give Richard Johnson his first Hennessy. He ticks a lot of boxes, especially as he is from the red-hot yard of Colin Tizzard but, for me, he is too short at 11-2 based on what he has achieved.

But at 9/1 a better punting proposition in the Hennessy Gold Cup is UN TEMPS POUR TOUT, who won at the Cheltenham Festival and who impressed over hurdles on his reappearance. He has 11st 4lb but he has class, a vital ingredient for this race. The ground will probably ride good to soft which should be perfect for this chaser, who may put himself in the Cheltenham Gold Cup frame if he wins.

SAPHIR DU RHEU is devilishly well handicapped on his best form but he failed in this race last year and has become a slightly disappointing horse. He is 10lb lower this year but others are preferred. Few horses win the Hennessy first time out, so DRUMACOO will have to be pretty special to do it. However, he won first time up as a novice and creeps in on 10st 3lb. Ben Pauling has also been making positive noises about him.

BLAKLION and VYTA DU ROC make less appeal as I’m not convinced by the strength of the RSA Chase form. The National Hunt Chase form, for me, is stronger.

UN TEMPS POUR TOUT 1pt win 9/1 (Sky Bet and William Hill)
SMAD PLACE each-way 11/1 (32Red and Betway)
TRIOLO D’ALENE each-way 33/1

Odds correct at time of going to press.


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