CeeBee previews some of the other races on the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury and he advises bets on Loch Ba, Ma Filleule and Cole Harden.
13.15 Newbury – 2m6f Handicap Chase
Just a speculative small play on an outsider here. Loch Ba is the selection.
Coming from Mick Channon’s yard and having been off since February is not overly encouraging fitness-wise but they’ve brought other chasers, Somersby and Knock House, back to perform relatively well first time out this season.
He’s also been pulled up on his last two starts, and in four of his last six so you can understand the small speculative nature of the bet.
That’s all the negatives out of the way…..
Loch Ba’s form when fresh reads 112P so first time out may be the right time to catch him. He’s also won off handicap marks of 125 and 121 (placed off 133, 132 & 130) so today’s mark of 128 is workable. He also handles the soft/heavy conditions very well and stays this 2m6f trip and further. Both vital elements to winning up the long Newbury straight in testing conditions. Andrew Thornton rode Loch Ba the last twice when pulling up after making mistakes so the booking of Conor O’Farrell must be seen as a positive. There’s enough positives there to warrant a small play at big odds.
The favourite La Vaticane may have found 2miles on the sharp side at Cheltenham but she hasn’t proven 2m6f on soft/heavy is within her stamina limits. A less aggressive ride from Scu would definitely help!
0.75 points win Loch Ba at 33/1 with Ladbrokes, Stan James and William Hill
13.50 Newbury – 2m3f Handicap Hurdle
Nicky Henderson’s mare Ma Filleule is the selection here. She runs off a hurdles mark of just 134 here despite being a 157 chaser. Second in two G1’s last season that chase mark is warranted. 23lbs is a significant difference and what I like is this is her second hurdles outing of the season so she should be a little more fluent over the smaller obstacles than your average chaser reverting to hurdles.
Her last outing was a 2m listed mares hurdle at Wetherby. That trip would’ve been on the sharp side for her so both the extra 3f and softer ground (she’s won on heavy before) here at Newbury will certainly help. All her best chase form is at 2m5f-3m.
She badly needed her reappearance run last year so I’d expect she’ll come on plenty for it this season also. October was probably a little early for Henderson’s top horses to be firing.
With improved fitness, a return to a more suitable trip and a generous handicap mark I expect her to outclass this field from the front.
2 points win Ma Filleule at 7/2 with Ladbrokes, Coral and Betway
14.25 Newbury – 3m Long Distance Hurdle
I expect this to be a match between Whisper and Cole Harden. On form there’s absolutely nothing between the pair so I’m more than happy to take 5/2 about Cole Harden for a few reasons.
Firstly I’m just after watching the Warren Greatrex trained Missed Approach win impressively on his first start for one year. Add in the winner here Thursday and at Fontwell Wednesday for good measure, the yard are in fine form. Gavin Sheehan rode all three of them aggressively off the front and Cole Harden will adopt the same tactics. The World Hurdle was a breakthrough performance for the small improving yard and I’m sure they’ll be eager to hit the ground running and prove it was no fluke. No better occasion than Hennessy day.
Interestingly Warren has stated he has Cole Harden as fit and ready as he was first time out last season. He has had a racecourse gallop at Newbury last week which will obviously have helped. First time out last season he put in a then career best when defeating Medinas and At Fishers Cross off levels. Following that Medinas turned him over in this race but that was with Medinas receiving 8lbs. Cole Harden improved measurably after a wind-op in January to take the World Hurdle in impressive fashion. He had 3 & 6L in hand over genuine 160 rated hurdlers Saphir Du Rheu and Zarkandar. Whisper was over 10L behind in fifth.
Whisper had an interrupted campaign before the World Hurdle and turned the tables on Cole Harden at Aintree. A combination of being fresher (just his 3rd start versus the 6th for CH) and not having as hard a race at Cheltenham probably suited Nicky Henderson’s charge.
Whisper has been beaten on 3 of the 4 occasions he’s seen the track after 60+ days off, he was 4/7 in a novice hurdle when he did win. I think if these two meet a few times this season there will be different results but today plenty points towards Cole Harden having the better of the argument.
2 points win Cole Harden at 5/2 with Paddy Power, Ladbrokes and BetVictor