CeeBee previews the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury and the Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle on Saturday with bets on Fox Appeal, Theatre Guide, Irvingand Purple Bay.
Newbury – Hennessy Gold Cup
I ran through most, if not all, of these in my ante-post preview three weeks ago. Read that HERE. Thankfully the selections, The Young Master and If In Doubt, have made it to the day unscathed and are both much shorter in the betting. That was the plan. With Coneygree missing the race their chances of winning have improved considerably.
I was pleased to hear The Young Master will be ridden by Sam Waley Cohen. He may be a part-time jockey but he hasn’t made too many mistakes on the big day. Most importantly he still gets to claim 3lbs. In my opinion he’s not 3lbs inferior to the other 16 jockeys on show here.
If In Doubt will appreciate the galloping nature of the track and any ease in the ground but I’d possibly have preferred he had a prep run to sharpen up his sometimes poor jumping.
The absence of Coneygree gives the likes of Ned Stark, Urano, Fingal Bay and Theatre Guide a chance from very low weights. They would all obviously have been running from out of the handicap proper had the weights not risen 9lbs in Coneygree’s absence.
Fingal Bay is quite short at 12/1 for one with so many problems. He must also be said for all his potential he has shown very little over fences. Ned Stark has also been caught by the market. 12/1 is accurate enough. Potentially well handicapped but with plenty still to prove. Urano is very inconsistent and if running a good race will be sure to throw it away on the run-in anyhow.
Theatre Guide is my pick of those towards the bottom of the weights. This fella races off 139 and placed in the 2013 renewal, as a 6yo, off 145. He followed that up with a potentially better run chasing home the well-handicapped Monbeg Dude at Cheltenham (off 147). Both those pieces of form show this trip, track and ground won’t be an issue and his current chase mark is lenient if returning to his best. He disappointed badly on a few occasions last season but was ambitiously campaigned in top company. He opened this season with a far more encouraging effort, 3rd 10L behind Wakanda at Wetherby. That 2m3f trip wouldn’t have been ideal so there’s plenty of positives to draw from it. Colin Tizzard had a good winner at Kempton during the week to go alongside Cue Card’s impressive victory last weekend so perhaps Theatre Guide is ready to give his own bounce-back performance.
The other outsider worth a mention is Fox Appeal. I dismissed him easily ante-post but at 50/1 he’s worth a small play. He’s an in-form handicap chaser who’ll handle the soft ground and has a touch of class. He finished ahead of both Houblon des Obeaux and Ned Stark last time whilst Double Ross has held up the form of that race quite well with a fine run in the Paddy Power Chase. Emma Lavelle’s chaser is more than capable of hitting the frame at a big price if he sees out the extended trip.
0.5 points each way Fox Appeal at 50/1 with Ladbrokes, Betfred and Stan James
0.5 points each way Theatre Guide at 20/1 with William Hill and Bet365
1 point win The Young Master 16/1
1 point win If In Doubt 25/1
Newcastle 2m Fighting Fifth Hurdle
With the top 6 in the Cheltenham Hurdle market all absent Newcastle have amazingly still assembled quite a strong field for this G1 2mile hurdle.
The second best 4yo last season, Top Notch, a darker but possibly equally talented 4yo in Beltor. The consistently just below top class Irving. Purple Bay probably falls into the same category. The improved handicapper Wicklow Brave and a novice from last season who looks to have improved significantly in Identity Thief. Intense Focus, a G2 winner as a 4yo makes up the field.
The obvious place to start is the race that threatened to finish the G1 status of the Fighting Fifth, the Betfair Hurdle at Haydock last week. Irving defeated Top Notch in workmanlike fashion. Many will argue Top Notch should improve for the run and turn the tables on the then race-fit Irving. I’d be in the other camp. Irving jumped poorly at Haydock and didn’t travel as sweetly as he can. That was possibly because Nicholls had the intention of turning him out quickly and may have eased off a fraction before Haydock. Turned out quickly he may be a bit sharper. Given his late challenge he was never going to win by say 4L but may indeed have had a little more to spare over Top Notch than the bare result suggests. This is more of an afterthought for Top Notch. Hargam was pencilled in for the Seven Barrows team but I’m guessing came out due to the ground.
Irving probably put in a career best when winning this race last year which is always a positive. He’s the only proven G1 hurdler in the field and comes into the race in great form.
Wicklow Brave is overrated and under-priced as a result of his last effort chasing home Nichols Canyon and Faugheen. He had a major fitness advantage on those two in an odd sort of race. He had a nice mark when winning the County Hurdle off 138 but there’s very little else in his form to suggest he’s any more than a 150 horse. He isn’t the most reliable of sorts either; he put in three poor efforts in the UK last winter including when he sulked a little in Sandown.
Purple Bay is the outsider worth a second look. Ignore his last run, he hated the ground (it is a slight worry here also), wasn’t remotely fit and will never stay 2m4f. Prior to that he was chasing home Faugheen in a G1 and winning the Elite hurdle at Wincanton (after Irving fell). He was probably a little flattered at Kempton as bar Faugheen nothing else ran their race. His Elite win was a decent performance giving weight to Bertimont and the classy Rock on Ruby trailing in 4L behind in 3rd. He probably has no more than 4 or 5lbs to find on the top few here and they may be below par having run last weekend, 16/1 is too big.
Identity Thief won in good style up at Down Royal and the mare Whiteout who was 3L behind won a good mare’s hurdle since. His bumper and maiden hurdle form from early last season is very good. Soft ground won’t be an issue either. There’s plenty to like but I’d rather he went for a handicap off 144. He will run above that market but probably fall short of the level Irving and Purple Bay can run to.
Beltor has a lot on his plate here with just 3 hurdle starts to his name. Yes he was ultra-impressive at Kempton and may not have run his race in the Triumph but he still has almost 20lbs improvement to find.
Intense Tango will be easily outclassed.
2 points win Irving at 10/3 with Paddy Power
0.5 points win Purple Bay at 22/1 with Paddy Power and Betway