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Friday, 25 November 2022

Saturday 26th November - "Hennessey" Gold Cup at Newbury

Blog updated on Saturday morning - updates in blue.
It may have a new name, but jumps fans know it by only one, The Hennessey.  There's been a bit of talk that the race isn't what it was, and it may be that it's 6 years since a proper "Gold Cup" horse - in the form of Native River - has run in the race, but it's still a competitive handicap.  Personally, despite having a decent Gold Cup record (the Weekender says 10 winners of the Cheltenham Gold Cup ran in this race on their way to the big one), this isn't a race that I would naturally look to as a stepping-stone to winning a Gold Cup. Why, because it's too close to Christmas and effectively rules out a run in either the "King George" at Kempton, or the Savills Chase in Ireland. ones

Being a race with a long history, there are lots of statistics. As with all statistical trends on horseracing, the first point of call has to be the strongest: stick with lightly raced chasers, as 11 of the last 17 winners had fewer than 10 chase runs, and only 1 of the last 27 winners had run more than 15 chase runs (Gingembre in 2002). If you take out the anomaly of 10yo Sizing Tennessee, only 1 horse older than 8yo has won this race since the 9yo Teeton Mill in 1998 - step forward Denman. There's no Denman in this race, and so I am content to put a line through Lostintranslation, Remastered, Potterman, and Diablo De Rouhet. Back on 30th October, I had an early look at this race for some antepost value, and came up with 3 horses: 2 are not running (Bravemansgame, and Fantastikas) but Fiddlerontheroof - advised at 16/1 - is, and his hurdle run on 7th November will have set him up for this. He was unlucky to be beaten in this race last year, and I think he has every chance of winning. I don't think the fav Le Milos, will have ground soft enough, and his odds are too short to suggest value. There's never been a 5yo winner of the race although (to be fair) very few have tried.  Even so, I can't have Busselton running off OR149 as despite winning LTO in the Kerry National, he's not shown form suggesting he can win off this rating.

There's 4 of the 1st-5 from the Ultima Handicap Chase running (who said this race isn't what it once was?) and all 4 - Corach Rambler, Gericault Roque, Oscar Elite, and Our Power - have a great chance, it is difficult to split them, but I favour Corach Rambler to do the best. Trainer Paul Nicholls runs many horses in this race, but his last winner was Denman; however, he could have another with Threeunderthrufive who ticks a lot of boxes. Probably outclassed at Cheltenham, he looks capable of a bold show being a prominent runner. The way I look at the race, the likely winner is either Fiddlerontheroof or Threeunderthrufive, both are available at 10/1 (5th odds a place 1,2,3,4,5). I didn't post odds on Friday evening, as I was hoping for a better market on the day. Skybet offer 6-places and 10/1 on Threeunderthrufive, and 11/1 on Fiddlerontheroof. This does look a more competitive race than usual and any one of the six named in this paragraph could win, so (if betting) keep stakes small. Personally, I'm relying on my surviving antepost wager at 16/1 on Fiddlerontheroof.

There are some great races on today, and the Class 2 handicap chase at 1:20pm over 2m6f & 93yds looks a great race to have a wager in. I'm not convinced Zanza is returning to his form of 2021, whereas Killer Kane should come on for his recent run and this trip being just short of 3-miles is right for him. The trip is also perfect for C&D winner Dublin Four, but he's had plenty of runs and may not have more improvement to come. On the upgrade is LTO winner Java Point (also a C&D winner) who I like a lot. For me, it's between Java Point and the fav Demachine, who also won LTO and was strongly fancied for the "Gold Cup" on this card last season, but weakened from 2-out to finish 5th to Cloudy Glen. Clearly the trip stretched him, and he bounced-back at Uttoxeter in May over 2m4f, but he suffers from having to carry 12st in this race. I think odds of 17/2 about JAVA POINT look fair value, and he's my selection in this race.

There's an interesting 3-mile Class 3 handicap chase at Bangor at 1:28pm and it may pay to wager on Keep Wondering who has 10lb claimer Elizabeth Gale riding, and she's 2 wins from 3 rides this season. Keep Wondering should stay this trip and his recent hurdle run over 2m7f should have him fit for this, and trainer has a 22% strike-rate with chasers at Bangor. Odds of 4/1 are not great though, and it may pay to hang on and keep an eye on the betting.

At Newcastle, the feature "Rehearsal" Chase over 2m7f & 91 yards is the last on the card at 3:25pm, and we see the return of top-class novice chaser L'Homme Presse. Trainer Venetia Williams has had 4 wins in the past week, and there will be a lot of confidence about this horse today, as he could develop into a Cheltenham Gold Cup candidate this season. Last years' winner Aye Right will make sure this is a proper stamina test, but he wont be winning today. There are a few in this who are trying the 3-mile trip for the first time, and they are difficult to assess. The odd-one-out is Into Overdrive, he's won his last 4 chase races and gone from OR112 to OR138 today, and unexpectedly won his seasonal debut over 2m3f last month.  It's never easy to assess form from the Northern tracks, but he's in the deep end here. The really interesting one is Happygolucky: he looked a decent chaser in the making in 2020-21, but has been off the track since winning at Aintree off OR149, demonstrating how unlucky he was not to win at the Cheltenham Festival. If he's fit and ready, he could be worth a punt today at odds of 15/2, but I really cannot see him winning unless he comes back just as good as when we last saw him run. 

My one advised selection today is: 
Newbury 1:20pm JAVA POINT - £5.00 eachway @ 17/2 
(generally available, 5th odds a place 1,2,3)

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