Hennessy Gold Cup Preview – Saturday 26th November
Last updated: November 25, 2016 by Leon Marshal
The big race this weekend is the £200,000 Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury, one of the most prestigious staying chases of the season.
The race has always attracted the highest class steeplechasers in the UK and Ireland. Denman joined racing legends Mandarin and Arkle when he won the race for the second time in 2009. Other leading chasers to star in the Hennessy Gold Cup include Bregawn (1982), Burrough Hill Lad (1984), One Man (1994) and Bobs Worth (2012). Nine of the last eleven winners have carried 11stone or more and last year’s winner Smad Place heads the weights on Saturday for Alan King.
Smad Place attempts to repeat Hennessy victory
Wayne Hutchinson rides Smad Place who was an impressive 12 lengths winner last season. The grey later won the Grade 2 Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham before finishing sixth in the Cheltenham Gold Cup. He shaped well on his reappearance when fourth at Aintree but is now racing off an 11lbs higher mark than last year.
The ante-post favourite is Native River, a six-year-old gelding by Indian River out of a mare by Be My Native. He has won six of his fifteen races for Colin Tizzard who won last week’s Betfair Chase with Cue Card and also trains Gold Cup favourite Thistlecrack.
Native River put up his best performance at Aintree in April when staying on strongly to beat Henri Parry Morgan by three lengths. He meets that rival on 5lbs worse terms and should be fit after a good run over hurdles at Wetherby last month. He has stamina in abundance and was second to Minella Rocco in the four-mile National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March.
Saphir Du Rheu well weighted at Newbury
Blaklion was almost seven lengths behind Native River at Aintree and renews rivalry on only 1lb better terms. He was probably not as his best that day after a long season, highlighted by his victory in the RSA Chase at Cheltenham. Last year’s chasing crop have not proved to be outstanding so far and Blaklion needs to improve on his recent fourth to Irish Cavalier in the Charlie Hall Chase. Paul Nicholls saddles two runners with Saphir Du Rheu and Vicente, ridden by Nick Scholfield and Harry Skelton respectively. Nicholls has always believed that Saphir Du Rheu had the potential to win a Cheltenham Gold Cup but he has yet to transfer his excellent hurdles form to the larger obstacles. He was favourite for this race last year when rated 163 and looks to have a serious chance off a 10lbs lower mark on Saturday.
He has won three of his nine races over fences and was runner-up in the World Hurdle in 2015. His first run of the season at Ascot was encouraging when staying on into third under a big weight behind Antony. Vicente is 5lbs higher than when winning the Scottish National at Ayr on his last run in April. He had previously finished fifth in the four-miler at Cheltenham and looks held by Native River on that form.
Henderson saddles three in Hennessy Gold Cup
David Pipe saddles Un Temps Pour Tout, a seven-year-old gelding by Robin Des Champs out of a mare by Bonnet Rouge. He has won one of his five races over fences, the Grade 3 Ultima Chase at Cheltenham. He was favourite at Aintree next time but finished fourteen lengths behind Native River in fourth place. He returned lame that day and returned to action with a confidence-boosting win over hurdles at Aintree earlier this month.
Nicky Henderson’s Vyta Du Roc has sneaked into the weights with just 10st 3lbs. He has finished behind several of his Hennessy rivals, most recently 18 lengths adrift of Un Temps Pour Tout at Aintree. He is 15lbs better off with that horse here and is preferred to stable companions Hadrian’s Approach and Triolo D’Alene. The latter won this race back in 2013 but has been plagued by injury problems since while Hadrian’s Approach is often let down by his jumping.
The pick of the outsiders could be Theatre Guide, runner-up here last year but now 10lbs higher in the ratings. He was a convincing winner of the BetBright Chase at Kempton in February and returned to action with a promising run at Wetherby last month.
Hennessy Gold Cup Betting Tips
Native River @6-1 Betway.
Each-way ¼ odds, 1,2,3,4.
The Hennessy Gold Cup is due off at 3.10 on Saturday 26th November and will be televised live on Channel 4.