LORD WINDERMERE CAN END IRELAND’S HENNESSY HOODOO
The Hennessy Gold Cup takes centre stage at Newbury this weekend, and while this prestigious handicap chase is invariably fiercely competitive, this season’s renewal is without doubt one of the most open-looking in recent years.
HENDERSON AND NICHOLLS THE HENNESSY KINGS
Five of the last 10 winners of this valuable contest have been trained by either Nicky Henderson or Paul Nicholls, with the latter edging it with three Hennessy triumphs since 2003.
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The Ditcheat handler relies solely on the well-fancied Rocky Creek this time round, while Henderson is set to deploy both Hadrian’s Approach and Triolo d’Alene in a bid to record back-to-back victories in this Grade 3 event, having succeeded with Bob’s Worth 12 months ago.
In terms of potential, Rocky Creek is of obvious interest, but by backing Nicholls’ chaser at 7/1 you are doing so with the expectation that he will return to action an improved horse. Indeed, on the face of it he has a fair bit to find with some of the others in terms of racecourse achievements.
KEY HENNESSY GOLD CUP STATISTICS/TRENDS
– Six of the last eight winners were making their seasonal reappearance
– Ten of the 11 last winners were aged between six and eight years old
– Just one of the last 10 victors returned at an SP of 10/1 or bigger
– Seven winners during the last decade carried 11st or more to victory
– Six of the last eight Hennessy heroes had previously won a race at Newbury
– Half-a-dozen of the last 10 winners were successful last time out
WINDERMERE CAN LORD IT OVER NEWBURY RIVALS
It’s been over 30 years since an Irish raider prevailed in the Hennessy Gold Cup, but I strongly believe that LORD WINDERMERE can end the Emerald Isle’s hoodoo in this race.
The seven-year-old has been the subject of very upbeat bulletins from trainer Jim Culloty – he reported that jockey Robbie McNamara described the gelding as “twice the horse he was last year” during a recent schooling session – and the 8/1 on offer with Paddy Power should be snapped up.
Lord Windermere relished stepping up in trip when landing the 3m ½f RSA Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March, and it’s interesting to note that the last three winners of that Grade 1 novices’ chase that contested the Hennessy the following season all triumphed – Trabolgan, Denman and Bob’s Worth.
The son of Oscar is tactically versatile, jumps for fun and is completely unexposed over staying trips – this will be just his second run over 3m plus. To my mind, he has all the ingredients required to win the Hennessy, and I reckon he’ll do just that.
The main danger could turn out to be Invictus. He arrives here on the back of a 651-day absence, so certainly has a bit to prove, but he looks extremely well handicapped judged on his victory in the in the Reynoldstown at Ascot in February 2012, given that Bob’s Worth and Silviniaco Conti were among his victims in that Grade 2 contest.
THE FIGHTING FIFTH HURDLE: ARE YOU IN THE MY TENT OR YOURS CAMP?
My Tent Or Yours was a leading novice hurdler last term and is already priced up at around the 6/1 mark for the Champion Hurdle in March. Predictably, Nicky Henderson’s charge is a short-priced favourite for his reappearance in the stanjames.com Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle on Saturday.
However, while he will be a very tough nut to crack, I believe he is worth taking on this weekend with MELODIC RENDEZVOUS who built on his solid novice form from last season when landing the Elite Hurdle in decisive fashion on his reappearance at Wincanton.
On a line through the fourth in the Elite Hurdle, Cotton Mill, who renews rivalry in this valuable contest, Melodic Rendezvous is closely matched with My Tent Or Yours – certainly more closely matched than the betting suggests – and at 5/2 Jeremy Scott’s charge rates decent value.
AT FISHERS CROSS REAPPEARS IN THE LONG DISTANCE HURDLE
Back at Newbury, the exciting At Fishers Cross reappears in the bet365 Long Distance Hurdle. Rebecca Curtis’ charge was the only novice to lower the colours of The New One last season and is expected to emerge as a key player for the Ladbrokes World Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March.
In receipt of 4lb from Celestial Halo and Reve de Sivola he really should come out on top. Medinas, who ran a fine race when second on his seasonal reappearance in a Grade 2 at Wetherby , could be the one for the forecast.
SATURDAY RACING TIPS
1.50 Aegean Dawn
2.25 At Fishers Cross
3.00 Lord Windermere
3.35 Next Sensation
2.05 Melodic Rendezvous
2.40 Hey Big Spender