Smad Wants Hennessy First Place
Hennessy Gold Cup
Fresh from 9/1 winner Aubusson in the Fixed Brush Hurdle, David Myers previews the Hennessy Gold Cup; one of the most competitive handicaps of the entire jumps season take place at 3pm at Newbury on Saturday.
A race boasting an impressive roll of honour with to the likes of Denman and Bobs Worth both triumphing in recent times, this weekend’s renewal may well go the way of another star – the question is: who will it be?
Well, currently heading the betting on 7/2 is Willie Mullins’ 5yo, Djakadam, who makes his seasonal reappearance here having last been seen falling in Grade 1 novice at the Cheltenham Festival. A Grade 2 winner prior to that over 2m5f, he was running a big race prior to coming down, and is open to lots of improvement this term. He has it to prove over 3m2f, however, and will need to be very good if winning this as a 5yo, as no winner managed the feat at that age…
Of the last 10 Hennessy Gold Cups…
10 arrived via Cheltenham (6), Aintree (2) or Ascot (2)
9 were officially rated 145 or higher
8 returned 12/1 or shorter (12%) – others were 2-110 (2%)
8 were 6-7yo’s (9%) – others were 2-89 (2%)
8 ran over 3m-3m1f last time
6 had a maximum of one handicap chase (19%) – others were 4-145 (3%)
N Henderson won it three times, P Nicholls twice
While two of the last 10 Hennessy winners returned 20/1 and 25/1, the majority emerged from the first five or six in the betting, pointing up the chances of Oliver Sherwood’s Many Clouds (13/2). This 7yo is 3-7 over fences, having won a Listed chase on his return at Carlisle a few weeks back (2m4f, soft), and has the right type of unexposed profile, having never run in a handicap chase.
Another interesting trend shows that each of the last 10 winners arrived via Cheltenham (6), Aintree (2) or Ascot (2), and one who trod such a route is Alan King’s 7yo, Smad Place (7/1).
A winner of two of his four chases as a novice, he almost capped last season by winning the Grade 1 RSA Chase at Cheltenham when last seen in March (3m, good), eventually beaten just 1/4l. A winner on heavy ground beforehand, he will handle Saturday’s grueling conditions and has the ideal profile for this.
Paul Nicholls enjoyed a superb few days last weekend, and runs the 8yo, Rocky Creek (9/1), who returned this season with an 11l second in a Grade 1 in Ireland (3m, yielding). He is all stamina having finished fifth in the Grand National, and will seek to go one better than when beaten under 3l into second in this 12 months ago (5lb higher now).
Philip Hobbs has made a cracking start to the season and runs the 8yo, Fingal Bay (7/1), who was a Grade 1 hurdle winner now reverting back to fences having tried them just three times a few seasons ago (won a minor novice). The overall view is that he may just lack the experience for this.
With Djakadam needing to create history if winning this as a 5yo, it could be worth siding with Smad Place, whose second in the RSA Chase is the level required to feature in this contest.