Hennessy Gold Cup betting
This weekend’s showcase event is a contest that has simply become known as “The Hennessy” thanks to the longest running commercial sponsorship in British racing and it isn’t surprising that the race has enjoyed such loyal patronage from the only sponsor it has known, given that it has been won by eight horses who have gone on to also win the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Most recent of those was, of course, last year’s winner, Bobs Worth, and it isn’t impossible to think that there might be another Gold Cup winner lurking somewhere in this season’s line-up, brim-full as it is with unexposed, second season chasers.
Chief amongst them is Lord Windermere, winner of last season’s RSA Chase. That didn’t look a vintage renewal of what is, in effect, a Gold Cup for novice chasers and it is slightly surprising to see Jim Culloty’s charge at the head of the market. His excellent jumping should stand him in good stead, but the handicapper hasn’t taken any chances and he looks worth opposing.
Rocky Creek swerved the RSA Chase, which may have been a good move as it can be a brutal contest for young chasers. However, he disappointed behind Dynaste at Aintree and he is on a retrieval mission here. The longer trip will play to his strengths, and he is very lightly raced and so open to no end of improvement. Given that stamina looks to be his forte, he probably wouldn’t want the ground to dry out too much though.
Super Duty was just behind Rocky Creek at Aintree having also missed the RSA, though this time in favour of the Kim Muir (where he was an excellent second to Same Difference giving him 12lbs), and unlike Paul Nicholls’ charge he will be right at home on this ground. Donald McCain has always been keen on him and all in all he looks better value than a number of the favourites. He should also be able to reverse the Festival form with Same Difference given the swing in the weights in his favour here and he looks worth an each way interest.
RSA third, Hadrian’s Approach, is also respected as he should improve for this stamina test. The worry is that he isn’t always been the best of jumpers, but the better ground here should help him in that regard and he ran a nice trial for this race at Kempton over an inadequate trip 3 weeks ago.
Our Father didn’t make it to any of the Spring festivals after flopping here behind Unioniste in February. He is undoubtedly very talented, but he is also very fragile having only seen the racecourse nine times in three seasons. Encouragingly, he has won first time out in each of those seasons and he is potentially well treated if back to his best, which is a possibility given how well backed he has been in recent days.
Highland Lodge beat Our Father when the two met at Cheltenham a year ago (and is weighted to confirm that form here), but then lost his way completely. That loss of form may have been down to the loss of form his yard suffered generally and with Emma Lavelle firing in the winners this campaign it was perhaps no surprise to see Highland Lodge back to form on his seasonal re-appearance (where he just failed to beat Standing Ovation at Wincanton giving that rival mountains of weight). He was miles clear of the third that day, but has only gone up 7lbs despite his conqueror winning again (in a valuable handicap) on his next start. If the ground is soft enough for him, he could run a big race and so looks the other one to back.
The other second season chaser to consider is Houblon Des Obeaux, who mixed it with the best novices throughout last season before finishing seventh in the RSA. He then looked to be better than ever when romping away with a valuable handicap at Ascot on his return to action earlier this month and that race, the United House Gold Cup, together with last season’s RSA Chase, offer the key form lines here. He will have to cope with a 10lbs rise in the weights, but his yard continues in fine form.
Merry King was second at Ascot, but has every chance of reversing the form given the revised weights and the longer trip. In the process, he could land a famous double for Jonjo O’Neill and Richie McLernon who combined to take the Paddy Power Gold Cup a couple of weeks ago. This horse may actually end up needing further than this in time, but he should have a decent race in him off this mark.
Triolo D’Alene was third in that Ascot contest and it is interesting that he is the choice of Barry Geraghty ahead of Hadrian’s Approach. Nicky Henderson ran the horse in the United House to see if he stayed 3m and the way he finished the race has obviously encouraged connections to come here. After that effort, it would be dangerous to write him off, given that he really seems to have found his form now and is still only six.
Venetia Williams is another trainer to be double handed and if there is to be a Gold Cup horse in the filed it may prove to be Katenko. He was all set to run in the big one last season, but he developed colic and had to miss the rest of the campaign after back to back wins. On the first of those starts he easily accounted for Paddy Power winner, Johns Spirit, and it is interesting that Williams was prepared to pitch him in at the deep end after he followed that up with a win in a valuable handicap at Cheltenham (by 12 lengths). He is yet to race on ground this quick, but should see out the trip well and if he were to win this off his big weight his Festival odds will surely tumble.
Former Gold Cup winner Imperial Commander has plummeted down the weights, but has it all to prove after a hugely disappointing effort in the Grand National when everything looked to be in his favour, whilst Prince De Beauchene, who has been ante post favourite for the last two Nationals only to have missed both renewals through injury, looks to have a lot of weight for what he has achieved.
Of more interest, therefore, are three unexposed horses at the foot of the handicap.
Strictly speaking, Invictus isn’t a second season chaser, but he missed all of his second season through injury. Plenty of punters have latched on to the form of his last start (over 650 days ago) when he beat Bobs Worth and Silviniaco Conti in the Reynoldstown at Ascot. If he can recreate that form here he would be a shoo in, but he does have that massive absence to overcome, so the best tactic may be to back him to a level that allows you to cover your other bets on the race.
Just below Invictus in the handicap is Theatre Guide whose form figures are uninspiring. However, when he is good he is very good and he will love the ground here. He has yet to prove he stays 3m let alone this trip, but he could run well for a long way at a big price as the Tizzards look to follow up Cue Card’s impressive success last weekend.
Another yard in form is Mick Channon’s, and his double act with Henrietta Knight has really started to bear fruit, which means Loch Ba has to be considered. We really fancied him for the big handicap chase on the opening day of the Festival in March, but he lost his jockey a long way from home that day. He was then well beaten at Aintree a few weeks later, but showed up nicely on his re-appearance and should stay the trip. He would, though, prefer softer ground, but looks best of those at big prices.
|Super Duty||3.00 Newbury||22/1
|Highland Lodge||3.00 Newbury||11/1