Friday, November 26, 2010

Hennessy day 2010

Every now and again you hear people talk about the glorious uncertainty of racing; Noel Fehily will hardly be describing that uncertainty as glorious this evening. Having built up a decent relationship with Paul Nicholls in recent weeks, and with the plum ride on Kauto Star to look forward to over Christmas, the jock suffered a suspected broken wrist when Rivaliste fell in a handicap chase at Newbury earlier this afternoon. He is destined for a spell on the sidelines.

Whatever, the show goes on (provided, of course, the frost covers are in place and the snow stays away). The highlight of tomorrow's excellent card at Newbury is the Hennessy Gold Cup, with strong support provided by the re-scheduled Fighting Fifth in which champion hurdler Binocular makes his seasonal debut, the Gerry Feidlen and the Long Distance hurdle.

Denman tops the weights in the showpiece and attempts to make history by becoming the first horse to win the Hennessy three times. The vibes coming from the Nicholls stable have been particularly positive; the layers make the ten-year-old chestnut their 4/1 favourite. This looks a fiendishly competitive race though, probably the best Hennessy we've seen for a number of years, yet only seven of the eighteen are set to carrry their long handicap weight. Of the fancied runners Weird Al is the one I like - he was my idea of the RSA winner at Cheltenham last March but he picked up an injury a week or so before the race and missed the date. He dead-heated with Little Josh over an inadequate two and a half miles at Carlisle at the end of October; two weeks later Little Josh came out to make all and win the Paddy Power Gold Cup. The Hennessy often goes to an emerging type - eight of the last ten winners have been aged either six or seven - so he certainly has the right profile while trainer Ian Williams boasts a 20% strike rate in the past fortnight. Of the bigger priced runners, I considered Silver By Nature but suspect he'd want deeper ground while Neptune Collonges would be a live threat if back to his best following a long lay-off - this one was just seven lengths behind Denman in the 2008 Gold Cup and has a big pull at the weights. Niche Market ran a cracker for the blog in this race last year finishing third at 33/1 while Colin Tizzard certainly rates Hey Big Spender who beat Big Fella Thanks at Carlisle the last time. The name Harry Findlay will be forever associated with Denman but he's likely to have divided loyalties here with his Big Fella Thanks in with a fighting chance. For a longhsot I'm going to stick my neck out and chance a little each-way on Razor Royale, mainly on the back of a Twiston-Davies comment earlier this autumn that he considered this horse the one from his yard who would give Imperial Commander most to do in a Gold Cup. The horse travelled well for a long way on his seasonal debut at Cheltenham a fortnight ago but then disappeared in a similar manner to that used by several girls I once knew. That was a bit disconcerting, as is the fact stable jock Paddy Brennan prefers Weird Al and - ideally - the gelding would want more cut yet the books are offering 66/1 about a horse that won the Racing Post Chase. On the grounds that a layer is never going to give you those sort of odds about a cert, I'll have a little each-way on Razor Royale.

Just five in the Fighting Fifth with champion hurdler Binocular pleasing connections and unsurprisingly marked up an odds-on chance. I'm wary as the race could become tactical; three of the five - Binocular, Starluck and Nearby, look as though they want holding up. It's a guess but I envisage Bygones of Brid making the pace with Peddlers Cross in attendance while the others bide their time. On ratings Starluck is the one who would benefit should something go amiss with the favourite - I'll consider betting Peddlers Cross (3/1 at Ladbrokes) and Starluck (5/1 generally and should be suited by this flat track) as those odds combined offer better value than the odds-on about Binocular.

In a competitive-looking Gerry Feilden Tocca Ferro is one I particularly like who has done me a favour in the past. Although he only won a head at Ascot the last time his trainer told the Weekender [17-21.11.10] that he was 'a very easy winner' who 'hit the front and just idled. He has gone up 8lb for that head win but that doesn't worry me as there is more to come.' Olofi's form reads well (fifth in the Greatwood) as does Kauto Relko's third behind Nearby at Aintree on his penultimate start.

Just six in the Long Distance hurdle with Big Buck's long odds-on. He's not entirely straight-forward; I always think Ruby Walsh knows and rides this one very well. Using official ratings as a guide Duc De Regniere has 12lb to find at the weights. Nonetheless Nicky Henderson's charge has the advantage of a run under his belt this season - 7/1 is on offer for those brave enough to consider opposing. I won't be one of them.

1 comment:

GeeDee said...

Weird Al (6/1) was given a quiet ride by Paddy Brennan and made some headway as they came to the cross fence on the second circuit but he could never lie up with the pacemakers and finished well-beaten in eighth. Razor Royale (40/1) never travelled at all and was pulled up after a mistake four from home.

Not much luck with the Hennessy selections but better news from the Fighting Fifth as Peddlers Cross (9/4) held Starluck (7/1) on the line with 5/6 favourite Binocular a further six lengths away in third.

Tocca Ferro (7/2jf) took the Gerry Feilden much more easily than I could ever have anticpiated. The long term aim is the Tote Gold Trophy back here at Newbury in February.

Big Buck's (2/7f) beat Duc De Regniere (13/2) three lengths.