Hennessy Gold Cup 2015 Preview
By Harvey Mayson
The Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury is the first major handicap of the National Hunt season for three-mile chasers and always attracts a top quality field.
Bobs Worth bidding to win Hennessy for a second time
Eight winners of the Hennessy have gone on to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup, the most recent being Bobs Worth who is set to run again on Saturday. Nicky Hendersonís ten-year-old won off a mark of 160 in 2012 and has now dropped to 153 in the official ratings. He bounced back to form when beating stable companion Simonsig by a length and a half in a hurdle race at Aintree. Both horses were returning from a lengthy absence so the form is difficult to assess.
The weights are headed by this yearís Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Coneygree who is set to carry 11st 12lb for Mark Bradstock. His participation was in doubt after he spread a plate last week but a gallop on Sunday morning satisfied connections that all was well with the eight-year-old. He is unbeaten over fences including an impressive seven lengths victory over Houblon Des Obeaux at Newbury in February. If Coneygree wins on Saturday, he will emulate Denman who carried the same weight to victory in 2007 and 2009.
Paul Nicholls won the Hennessy twice as a jockey and has now won it three times as a trainer. His hopes rest with Saphir Du Rheu who has been among the market leaders since beating The Young Master by seven lengths at Carlisle at the start of the month. He won the Mildmay Novicesí Chase at Aintree in April but has failed to complete in two previous clashes with Coneygree.
Smad Place fancied to improve on last seasonís Hennessy run
Alan King is yet to win this race and could be doubly represented with Smad Place and Ned Stark. The former looks to have an excellent each-way chance having beaten Fingal Bay by eight lengths in his prep race at Kempton. Smad Place ran in the Hennessy last year without a previous race and fitness may have told in the closing stages when fading into fifth behind Many Clouds. He is set to race off the same handicap mark and should go well under Wayne Hutchinson.
Neil Mulholland also has two entries with The Young Master likely to be joined by The Druids Nephew. Sam Waley-Cohen has been booked to ride The Young Master who has a 9lbs pull with Saphir Du Rheu for his recent defeat at Carlisle. He also has ground to make up on the Philip Hobbs-trained If In Doubt who finished fifth in the RSA Chase at Cheltenham.
The Young Master raced prominently until being headed at the tenth fence while If In Doubt stayed on without ever threatening to get involved at the finish. The Druids Nephew was a leading fancy for the Grand National after winning at the Cheltenham festival. He led over Valentines for the second time before falling at the next but offered little encouragement on his seasonal debut at Wetherby.
Valseur Lido the pick of Willie Mullins-trained entries
Irish-trained runners have a poor record in this race and Willie Mullins will be hoping to buck the trend with one of his three entries. Valseur Lido won the Grade 1 Champion Novice Chase at Punchestown in April, his first start at this distance. He was well beaten in third behind stable companion Vautour at Cheltenham. Ballycasey was pulled up at the Cheltenham festival and brought down in the Grand National so still has plenty to prove while Urano is 6lbs out of the handicap.
Houblon Des Obeaux ran the race of his life in the Hennessy last season when finishing second to Many Clouds. He is set to race off a 1lb lower mark after some lack-lustre efforts at Cheltenham, Ayr and Ascot.
Hennessy Gold Cup Betting
The latest betting has Coneygree and Saphir Du Rheu as 7-2 joint-favourites with Bobs Worth and Smad Place available at 8-1 and 14-1 bar these. The race is due off at 3.00 on Saturday 28th November and will be televised live on Channel 4 in the UK.