Friday, November 25, 2016

Newbury's Hennessy Gold Cup 2016

Some old friends and foes amongst the twenty declared for the 60th running of the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury tomorrow (3.10).

The roll call of previous winners includes several illustrious names: Mandarin (1957, 1961); Mill House (1963); Arkle (1964, 1965); Stalbridge Colonist (1966); Spanish Steps (1969); Bregawn (1982); Brown Chamberlin (1983); Burrough Hill Lad (1984); Playschool (1987); One Man (1994); Suny Bay (1997) and Denman (2007, 2009).

Since 2000 Denman is the only horse older than eight to have come home in front.

Last year's winner Smad Place tries again but faces a stiff task off a mark 11 pounds higher (166); by contrast Saphir Du Rheu, fifth last year, appears to have been given every chance off a rating 10 pounds lower (153). I may well be proven wrong but regular readers will know I don't think Saphir jumps well enough in a big field to win a race like this.

The leading horses in the betting have form lines with each other.

Favourite Native River was beaten fair and square by Blaklion in the Towton Novices' Chase at Wetherby last February. After that result Colin Tizzard opted for the easier route at the Cheltenham Festival, fitting his charge with first-time cheekpieces for the four miler while Blaklion won the RSA Chase for Twiston-Davies at that meeting (Vyta Du Roc fifth, beaten ten and a half lengths).

Three and a half weeks later Native River reversed the Wetherby form in Aintree's Mildmay Novices' Chase beating Blaklion into third (Henri Parry Morgan second, Un Temps Pour Tout fourth).

Henri Parry Morgan hasn't been seen since unseating Sean Bowen in the bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown in April (Hadrian's Approach sixth, Theatre Guide eighth and Carole's Destrier eleventh) but Un Temps Pour Tout posted notice of his well-being three weeks ago by making all in a four runner hurdle to beat Vyta Du Roc eighteen lengths into third.

Taking the Cheltenham form as a benchmark, Vyta Du Roc looks closely matched with Blaklion in receipt of eleven pounds while on Aintree form Henri Parry Morgan has five pounds in hand over Native River for a three length defeat.

Vicente comes into the reckoning on the back of his win in the Scottish National (Vyta Du Roc fifth). Previously Paul Nicholls' inmate finished just under fourteen lengths behind Native River in the Festival four miler where he was hampered by a loose horse three from home. His fitness and well-being have to be taken on trust but at 20/1 he makes some appeal as an each-way wager.     

Second last year, Theatre Guide has each-way claims - off 149 he's ten pounds higher this time around - and Carole's Destrier would have been of more interest with a run under his belt. This one was fifth on his seasonal debut in Wincanton's Badger Ales last year before winning the London National at Sandown - four of his five wins to date have come on right-handed tracks.

Houblon Des Obeaux has been tipped up here and  there but I feel his best chance may have already passed - regular pilot Aidan Coleman rides Upswing for J. P. McManus.

A very open, competitive renewal for which I have two each-way suggestions:

Blaklion - Paddy Power have taken a position offering 11/1 at the time of writing and pay a quarter the odds five places - and Vicente available at 20/1 generally.


Anonymous said...

Good write up and I think your assertion that this year’s Hennessy is “a very open, competitive renewal…” is spot on.

I’m wary about backing anything in the field at less than 14/1 so that rules out Blaklion for me. I do like Vicente’s chance but I’ve ended up splitting my e-way stake across two of Nicky Henderson’s.

Triolo D’Alene & Hadrian’s Approach are both 9yo’s but have less miles on the clock than some of their younger rivals and could still have more to offer off their current handicap marks. 33/1 for each and enhanced place terms I’m hopeful of some sort of return!

Best of luck.


GeeDee said...

Prominent for most of the trip, Native River (7/2 favourite) idled a little after the last but found more when challenged by fast-finishing Carole's Destrier (25/1) to give Team Tizzard another big Saturday win and Richard Johnson his first Hennessy.

Selection Blaklion (13/2) appeared in with every chance turning into the home straight but was clearly held by the principals and stablemate Double Ross (50/1) two out before losing fourth spot to TW's selection Hadrian's Approach (33/1) on the run-in.

In the aftermath it was reported that jockey Ryan Hatch had indicated Blaklion had 'cut out' at the business end of the race; connections are likely to consider a breathing operation now.

Vicente (12/1) raced wide, gradually creeping towards the leaders on the second circuit but he started to go backwards after the cross fence and was well behind when coming to grief two from home.