Friday, November 28, 2008

Hennessy Day at Newbury and Newcastle

Seventeen go to post at 2.40 tomorrow for the Hennessy Gold Cup. Paul Nicholls' Big Buck's is pretty short in the market given that no five year old has previously won the race. Two horses perceived to be 'well in' are at opposite ends of the handicap; Island Flyer scrapes in with ten stones but is due a hike in the weights while last week's Betfair Chase winner Snoopy Loopy carries top weight here but will be further penalised in the future. This may come a little too quick for Snoopy Loopy and the stable's other entry, Always Waining, makes more appeal as a potential each-way wager. Albertas Run beat Air Force One convincingly in last season's Sun Alliance Chase but that fact isn't reflected in the betting for tomorrow's event, mainly because Air Force One ran a very good trial for this at Ascot four weeks ago while Albertas Run was rather disappointing on heavy ground at Carlisle; further rain wouldn't suit either runner. I'm drawn to those at the bottom of the handicap and in a competitive event I'm going to side with Character Building who was third in this last year; he has been off the track after sustaining an injury but appears to have come back in fine form winning a hurdle race at Towcester. The each-way off-the-wall longshot is Always Waining who won a listed chase at Market Rasen with something in hand two months ago and was eighth in this last year. Going through his form he appeared mightily inconsistent throughout last season but if he's on song he could go well and in any case shouldn't be 40/1.

The best race on the card is the Long Distance Hurdle at 2.05. World Hurdle winner Inglis Drever makes his seasonal reappearance, as does Blazing Bailey. Both these are some way ahead of their rivals on ratings but I really like the unbeaten Pettifour, who won at Wetherby a month ago and may have a fitness advantage over the front two; I'm going to take a chance on him at this highest level. Strictly on the book Mobaasher should have the beating of Pettifour but last time he was worried out of it on the run-in by the selection; I'm left with the suspicion that Mobaasher may be something of a bridle horse. In a fascinating race Labelthou couldn't be totally dismissed if returning to form while I'll watch Hills Of Aran to see if he handles the step-up in class. This horse runs well for McCoy; had he been in the plate, I would have considered an each-way dabble.

The portents point to Punjabi in the Fighting Fifth at Newcastle, where the favourite has won eight of the last ten runnings. Barry Geraghty passed over a hatful of fancied rides at Newbury to take this one; in addition connections have targetted this race as the first leg of a possible treble that will land them £1 million. The Irish send over a strong challenge with Harchibald, Sublimity and Harper Valley while Blue Bajan will be worth monitoring for future reference but, given the above, I can't oppose the favourite in this.

1 comment:

GeeDee said...

Two selections for the Hennessy and they're both declared lame on the morning of the big race! An incident packed renewal on testing ground saw several of the fancied runners fall by the wayside up the long home straight. Coming to the last it looked between Madison Du Berlais, Air Force One and Big Buck's; the last-named was clumsy at it and unseated jockey Sam Thomas. Shades of last week at Haydock.. Thomas could easily be exonerated of any blame a week ago but here, on balance, you would have expected the jock to have kept the partnership intact. He'll be disappointed as his riding has come under close scrutiny during the week; the horse looked booked for third. On the run to the line 25/1 shot Madison Du Berlais easily kept the fancied Air Force One (5/1) at bay, with Snoopy Loopy (12/1) doing well under his welter burden to stay on for third.
Drama in the Long Distance Hurdle as favourite Inglis Drever was pulled up just before the cross flight; he may well have run his last race which is a shame as he has been a great champion. In a muddling race it's difficult to know what to make of Duc De Regniere's five length win from Mobaasher (9/1) and Pettifour (4/1). They went no pace up front which suited McCoy's mount who showed a decent turn of foot between the last two flights. Although this was Pettifour's first defeat, it wasn't a bad effort at this higher level and I'd imagine connections won't be too disheartened. Perhaps I was a liitle harsh calling Mobaasher a 'bridle horse'; he ran all the way to the line to beat the selection one and a quarter lengths, as he was entitled to do on the book.
The temperature reached minus nine at Newcastle overnight, so it was hardly a surprise to see the meeting abandoned. Spare a thought for Barry Geraghty who elected to go there to ride Punjabi and missed four Henderson winners at Newbury, Tony McCoy being the beneficiary. That's racing, as they say!