The Hennessy Gold Cup Chase at Newbury is one of the most prestigious handicaps in the National Hunt calendar (Saturday, 3pm).
Alan King’s Invictus (11/1) is among the market leaders. We haven’t seen this seven-year-old son of Flemensfirth since he beat Nicky Henderson’s Cheltenham Gold Cup winner, Bobs Worth, in a three mile novice chase in February last year. This race has been his long term target but his trainer thought that his price was absurdly short (when he was 8/1) and views the contest as a massive ask.
Since he went over fences, Invictus has not encountered a field larger than seven so this cavalry charge could be a bit of a shock for him. On the positive side, King has said that Invictus is working well and appears to have retained his ability. He is also confident that ground conditions should suit and thinks that he is well handicapped.
In stark contrast to King’s words of caution, Jim Culloty is incredibly bullish about Lord Windermere’s (15/2) chances. This seven-year-old was last seen winning the RSA Chase at Cheltenham and RSA winners have a great record in the Hennessy. The last three winners that subsequently lined up in the Hennessy were successful.
Lord Windermere looks to have a decent chance of continuing the trend. That win on good to soft indicates strong credentials on the stamina front and he seems likely to get the give in the ground that he needs to produce his best. He has to be one for the shortlist.
Another potential Irish raider is Willie Mullins’ Prince De Beauchene (14/1). This ten-year-old was strongly fancied for the Grand National last year before being ruled out through injury. He was less than dazzling in his seasonal debut three weeks ago in the Champion Chase. He finished third, 23 lengths behind Gordon Elliott’s Roi Du Mee.
If that run has brought him on rather than aggravated any existing physical damage, he has to be taken seriously here. He won on his second start last season but this is a much bigger ask. He will benefit from the expert assistance of Ruby Walsh.
Walsh’s former boss, Paul Nicholls is upbeat about the chances of Rocky Creek (7/1). Nicholls has acknowledged that many of his horses have needed their first run this season but thinks that should not be the case with this seven-year-old. Like Invictus, Rocky Creek has no experience of this scale of field over fences. He never encountered more than five rivals when clocking up three wins in novice chases last season. He ended his campaign by coming a disappointing 24 lengths third to Dynaste in the Mildmay Novices’ Chase at Aintree in April on ground that was possibly faster than ideal for him. He should not have that problem on Saturday and is another one for the shortlist.
Donald McCain’s Super Duty (20/1) finished nearly two lengths behind Rocky Creek in the Mildmay and meets him on more favourable terms here. This seven-year-old also has a creditable performance at Cheltenham to his name, coming second by the shortest of margins to Nigel Twiston-Davies’ Same Difference in the Fulke Walwyn Handicap Chase for amateur riders at the festival last year. There were 24 runners so he has valuable experience of a massive field. He looks likely to appreciate this trip and would probably benefit if more rain falls at Newbury. McCain has just hit a rich vein of form and Super Duty looks to be generously priced.
David Pipe is another trainer in good form. He sends out the lightly raced Our Father (10/1). He was very disappointing in his final run last season, finishing completely tailed off in a novice chase at Newbury in February having acquired a tongue tie for the first time. He started his campaign with a win in a novice chase at Cheltenham and followed up by finishing second by 22 lengths to Emma Lavelle’s Highland Lodge there on heavy ground that had the field strung out at intervals of over 20 lengths. He will be wearing a tongue tie again here.
Highland Lodge (12/1) also lines up, having come second to David Pipe’s Standing Ovation in a handicap chase over three miles three furlongs at Wincanton a month ago. He was shouldering nearly two stone more than him and hung badly in the closing stages. He appears to have stamina in abundance and Lavelle has had this race in mind for him for some time. Soft ground would definitely help his cause.
Jonjo O’Neill’s six-year-old, Merry King (12/1) has attracted support. Three weeks ago he came six lengths second to Venetia Williams’ Houblon Des Obeaux in the three mile United House Gold Cup at Ascot and has risen 3lbs in the handicapper’s estimation since. He has run over slightly further twice before and definitely has something to prove over this distance. He finished last in the JLT Specialty Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham festival last year.
Houblon Des Obeaux (16/1) also runs but looks to be up against it, setting off at a 10lb higher mark than when winning at Ascot. Williams’ other runner, Katenko (14/1) is difficult to fancy for similar reasons.
Hennessy Gold Cup Betting Tips Conclusion
With a handful of horses on offer at prices from 7/1 to 10/1, this looks to be the most open renewal of the Hennessy for years. Horses starting at single figure odds have enjoyed the lion’s share of the prize money recently but there are enough doubts over the market leaders to make a longer priced horse appeal.
Fiona Derek is our Reality TV and horse racing expert. The only time you won’t find her riding or mucking out a racehorse is when she is watching Reality TV or racing on the box.