Last updated March 1st, 2016
Just four horses – Arkle, Bregawn, Denman and Bobs Worth – have won the Hennessy Gold Cup and the Cheltenham Gold Cup in the same season but Saphir Du Rheu (4/1) aims to enhance his claims as a contender for the Blue Riband event by conceding 7lb and more to his Hennessy rivals (3pm Saturday at Newbury).
Paul Nicholls’ six-year-old returned to action with an easy seven-length win from The Young Master (10/1) over 2m4f at Carlisle earlier this month and, having previously missed a month’s work with an eye infection, can be expected to improve significantly for that run.
The Al Namix gelding made an inauspicious start to his chasing career, failing to complete the course on two of his first three starts, but finished second in the World Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival when returned to the small obstacles. He looked much more the finished article when beating Carraig Mor by 15 lengths, eased down, in the Mildmay Novices Chase at Aintree in April and looks a worthy favourite.
Bobs Worth (6/1) won this race off a mark of 160 in 2012 but, having contested the 2014 Cheltenham Gold Cup when rated 180 by the official handicapper, had plummeted down the weights after three poor runs last season.
However, Nicky Henderson’s 10-year-old looked much more his old self when making all to beat stable companion Simonsig by 1½ lengths on unfavourable terms over hurdles on his reappearance at Aintree three weeks ago. He runs here off a mark of 153 so, if he can translate his apparent improvement back to the larger obstacles, he must surely be a threat to all.
The Druids Nephew (14/1), trained by the talented Neil Mulholland, could only finish seventh of 19 beaten 25 lengths behind Many Clouds in this race last year off a 15lb lower mark, but won the Ultima Business Solutions Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in the style of a well-handicapped horse and led the Grand National field when falling at the fifth last.
The King’s Theatre gelding was beaten the proverbial country mile over hurdles on his reappearance at Wetherby four weeks ago and probably needs a career-best effort to win. Nevertheless, a 10lb rise in the weights compared with Cheltenham doesn’t look beyond him and he remains one to consider from a yard in the ascendancy.
Houblon Des Obeaux (14/1) is on a losing run of 11 and still prone to the odd jumping error, as at Ascot four weeks ago, but is 1lb lower in the weights than when second, beaten 3¼ lengths, behind Many Clouds in this race last year and warrants close attention. Trainer Venetia Williams’ (pictured) eight-year-old should strip fitter for his Ascot outing and the step back up to 3m2f on soft going should suit him admirably.
Our Preview’s Hennessy Gold Cup Betting Tips
Saphir Du Rheu is the obvious one, but he does lack experience over fences and faces any number of battle-hardened rivals. With that in mind, our preview’s Hennessy Gold Cup betting tips advice is to back HOUBLON DES OBEAUX each-way at best odds of 14/1 with Paddy Power, Ladbrokes, Coral or Betfair. The Panoramic gelding doesn’t come without risks, but is difficult to ignore from a handicapping perspective.