A top-drawer performance from NATIVE RIVER yesterday won the (final) Hennessy Gold Cup and readers of the blog were on at 6/1 - before a tsunami of office money caused the odds to plunge to an SP of just 7/2; and I predicted the SP of NATIVE RIVER being 7/2 on Wednesday's blog.
I was very confident that we were on the winner a long way out, although when Carole's Legacy came with a late challenge my confidence was dented. It was a tremendous run from Carole's Legacy who (at best) was well-handicapped as he won over 3m4f at Sandown in December last year off OR146 (he ran off OR148 yesterday) but that was after his seasonal debut - which he hadn't had this season, he came into the Hennessy fresh. Before I move on from that Sandown race, we will keep an eye out for the horse in 3rd that day Ballyheigue Bay as this one needs a RH track and good-to-soft ground and he's slipped from OR132 to OR127 as he's been running in unsuitable races.
It would not surprise me to see Carole's Destrier improve a few pounds for the run if he comes out again soon, and there are some suitable handicaps in December.
This Hennessy (this is the final year as the sponsor owner LVMH has decided to end 60 years of association with the race and concentrate on fashion advertising!) was a solid race for the form student, although trends followers fell (literally) at the first hurdle as no previous winner had come from a hurdle race LTO as Native River did. The winner is still about 10lbs short of the top-table on my ratings, but he is only a 6yo and come next March he could well be in the mix - what a problem for Tizzard having Native River, Cue Card and Thistlecrack in the stable.
My other selection Virak did not run well at all, and something is amiss with the horse as he seems to have lost his mojo. There is no room for sentimentality in horseracing, especially if you are gambling on it, and that's the last time we will wager on Virak until he shows better form. The winner of the race OTAGO TRAIL skipped through the mud very easily and looks a lot better than his current OR146 rating and he could be 160+ especially on soft/heavy ground. We will be following this horse closely.
The blog is now in profit for the season at £84.38 on stakes of £280.00, which represents an ROI of 30.13%. Not quite as good as at this time last season, but doing well enough, especially as we have had a few near-misses in Double Shuffle beaten a short-head at 15/2, Ericht making a last fence blunder costing him the race at 7/1, and Oliver's Gold failing (having been in front on the run-in) by a neck on Friday at 7/1. I'm disappointed with the strike-rate but that is the price for looking for winners at odds longer than 9/4.
I've been asked about antepost wagers, and while I am happy to give my opinion on a horse and it's ability, at the moment it is up to the reader to make their own decision whether to follow it and place a wager or not. My own wager on Vautour for the Gold Cup was lost last month when Vautour was injured on the gallops and had to be destroyed, and while I have placed another wager on Douvan - also for the Gold Cup - after yesterday, I think it is unlikely he will now go for that race and will likely stick to the Champion Chase. Such is the risk with antepost wagers. I do not think Cue Card will be able to be the first 10yo to win the Gold Cup since Cool Dawn in 1998, but his age may not be the barrier - it may well be his stablemates of Thistlecrack and Native River.
What is interesting is that the race won by Thistlecrack on Saturday was also won by Native River last season and, while Native River ran an extra 60 yards (see Racing Post for details), the time was 23.15 seconds slower on similar ground. That's about the time it takes to run 200 yards (for a horse carrying 11st 9lb), so put simply Thistlecrack won his novice chase about 140 yards quicker than Native River did last year. Make of that what you will.
The selections for the season and profit and loss are on a separate page on the blog.