CeeBee takes an in depth look at the Hennessy Golf Cup from Newbury and his ante post picks are The Young Master and If In Doubt.
Hennessy Gold Cup - 3m2f Handicap Chase - 28th Nov
Coneygree will head the weights off an official rating of 172. This is some 15lbs higher than last year’s top weight and as such will change the shape of the race. It’ll also make it an easier/better punting prospect.
In 2009 Denman ran off 174 and only 10 of his 17 rivals were in the handicap proper. A year later off 184 he had 15 of his 18 rivals out of the handicap. Horses running from out of the handicap are at an obvious disadvantage hence creating an ante-post betting opportunity for those within the handicap proper before the final weights are established. As it stands an OR of 146 will be bottom weight of 10 stone in this year’s renewal and there are currently 22 entrants below this mark. So let’s focus on those above that mark and see it we can find some ante-post value….
Coneygree – is the obvious starting point. 3m2f on soft (most likely) is right up his street. A dual Newbury winner and only raced 10 times, aged 8, there’s no reason he won’t be better this season. Weight carried shouldn’t be an issue. He carried 11-10 in Cheltenham and his mark of 172 looks fair enough. The Hennessy has a history of decent weights being carried, only last year 11-6 beat 11-12. The previous year the first two home again carried over 11 stone. In 2012 Bobs Worth carried 11-6 to beat Tidal Bay off 11-12 and Denman obviously won off 11-12 in 07 & 09 also. Coneygree ticks all the boxes but at 7/1 he’s not an ante-post proposition, can’t imagine he’ll be much shorter in a few weeks time. Note he’s left in the Betfair Chase still.
Many Clouds – last year’s winner but now 16lbs higher and a little disappointing on seasonal reappearance at Wetherby.
Menorah – very poor in the Charlie Hall. Best form at 3miles or less, extra 2f wouldn’t suit.
Dynaste – Similar comments apply re the trip, 3m2f is not what he wants.
Ballynagour – again not crying out for the extended trip. Didn’t get home here 12mts ago.
Saphir Du Rheu – current 5/1 fav so easily skipped at this point. Only 5 chase starts, all in small fields, has got to be a worry. The 5 starts has only resulted in 3 completed efforts, one of the mishaps came at Newbury, also a negative. He’s hardly chucked in off 163 – if he is, he’ll be roughly the 3rd highest rated chaser in training. I can’t have that. His Aintree win last term was a very poor G1 and he wasn’t good enough to win a very average World Hurdle.
Don Poli – won’t run here. Same applies to Willie’s Vroum Vroum Mag and Valseur Lido. He didn’t have Djakadam ready in time last year and regretted running him. Won’t make the same mistake with these, plenty of options in Ireland.
Cue Card – just like those he defeated in the Charlie Hall; he doesn’t want to go 3m2f. Connections would be foolish not to go for the Betfair Chase instead. Worth remembering he was receiving weight from most rivals that day, will be conceding it to many here (up 7lbs for Wetherby win).
Rocky Creek – 2nd in 2013 (now 9lbs higher) before pulling up here in 2014. His comeback at Down Royal wasn’t inspiring and probably needs to drop a few lbs before he’ll win a handicap.
Sam Winner – might go for a repeat at the Cheltenham PP meeting in the race he won last year. Like his stable mate above he’s on a stiff enough mark at 160. The trip would suit better than the bare 3miles he raced over last time.
Houblon Des Obeaux – 6th in 2013 (off 154), 2nd in 2014 (off 157) where the softer ground suited. At a guess he’ll be off 156 this time around. Plenty others will be worse treated. Also chased home Coneygree (who he gave 1lb) in the Denman Chase last season so Newbury’s galloping track definitely suits this fella. The ground was too lively at Ascot last weekend so ignore that effort. He needs plenty of cut, and won’t be too popular, so no need to play ante-post but don’t forget about him.
Unioniste – 6th last year (7lbs higher this time around), won easily (well backed) at Sandown the next time out. This trip in likely soft ground should suit and he looks somewhat better handicapped than some of the more exposed types in here. I wonder will his season revolve around the National though?
The Druids Nephew – stays over hurdles until after the National Weights apparently. (A silly move in my opinion, he was 8lbs well in last April, 156 isn’t really a mark worth protecting)
The Giant Bolster – Last 3 wins have come at Cheltenham where he seems to be at his best. Traditionally not good in the early part of the season either.
Smad Place – 5th last year (off 155) where he blew up in the closing stages and Alan King later admitted to regretting not giving him a prep run. He got one into him this time and it was a decent victory over 2m4f at Kempton. I’m guessing he’ll go up to around 158 for that. Placed in 2 World Hurdles, narrowly defeated in both an RSA Chase and Pillar/BetBright Chase he’s a classy animal just below top G1 level but he’d be carrying roughly 10-12 here. Very soft/heavy ground would be a concern. We missed the 20/1 available last week but the 14/1 now available probably still represents a bit of value.
Southfield Theatre – Many Clouds, Trabolgan, Denman, Bobs Worth and Diamond Harry (probably many more) won the Hennessy after competing in the RSA Chase the previous year. Classy horses who had a few lbs in hand after their novice campaigns. This fella fits the bill. He also represents the King of big Saturday prizes in Paul Nicholls. A 150 rated 6yr old hurdler his novice chase form read 11212. The final defeat coming at the hands of Don Poli, when apparently injured mid-race, no shame in that. The other defeat came when trying to give 8lbs to the smart Carraig Mor. A mark of 154 doesn’t look too harsh. 151, 151, 161, 160 & 152 were the Hennessy winning marks of the second year novices list above. He has a prep run on Sunday where he takes on Coneygree off levels. Currently there’s 18lbs between both horses. If ST gets close or beats Coneygree (given it’ll be a bare 3miles on good ground I wouldn’t be at all surprised) I expect he’ll shoot up a few lbs and hurt his Hennessy chance. If he doesn’t get close it’s probably not a great sign going forward so despite liking the horse for this, let’s take a wait and see approach.
Kings Palace – will go for the Paddy Power Chase first. I’m not convinced by him just yet. Plenty of small field novice chase wins but disappointed on the biggest stage, twice.
First Lieutenant – looks a shadow of the staying chaser we saw 2yrs ago.
Annacotty – was pulled up in this last season but is now in the care of Alan King. Goes for the Paddy Power first I think.
Virak – is another graduating from novice ranks but after winning a handicap in April he doesn’t look as nicely treated as the likes of Southfield Theatre. He was well beat in both the Feltham and Reynoldstown.
Triolo D’Alene – won the 2013 Hennessy off 147. Now off 152 and only 8yrs old so he isn’t too harshly treated. The key to him is good ground. How likely is he to get it in the final week of November? Off since January I’d like to see him have a prep run first although a recent stable tour suggested he wouldn’t be out until the Spring.
Fox Appeal – like a few others in this looks to be suited by the bare 3miles if not less than that. 3m2f will stretch him. 2 wins from 15 chase starts isn’t a great record, regularly finding one or two too good, he may need some help from the handicapper.
Bobs Worth – Finished 8/9, PU, 11/20 in his 3 starts last season. If back to his best he’s 20lbs well-in. More likely he’ll be retired after another poor performance.
If In Doubt – is an interesting contender. He finished 2L behind Southfield Theatre in the RSA after getting outpaced and staying on strongly. He gets a likely 3lb swing for those 2L. Softer ground and an extra 2f should suit him ideally here; he’s a very strong stayer. Having won the SkyBet Chase last term, on just his 4th chase start, he’s shown he can handle the big field staying handicap conditions. Jumping is an issue with this guy but perhaps it’ll improve with age/experience. He’s a lightly raced 7yr old who got to 140 over hurdles so has a touch of class and the potential to improve further.
Un Ace – last win came at 17f. Has never gone beyond 21f. Hard to imagine 26f would suit.
The Young Master – another graduating novice. He flopped in the RSA but as such will turn up here on a lenient mark compared to most of his counterparts. Prior to the RSA he’d won 3 staying handicap chases fairly impressively. As a 5yr old novice he’d got to a mark of 151 having beaten the likes of Houblon des Obeaux and Le Reve. Now he races off 149, that’s generous looking. His seasonal reappearance was just a prep for this, over 2m4f he was never going to shine but it was adequate. 3m2f won’t be a problem and reasonable winter ground won’t hurt him either. Neil Mulholland has been quoted that this is the plan. Plenty to like. The last piece of 20/1 disappeared today but he’s still one I want onside at 16/1
Carole’s Destrier – another for Mulholland. He won 3 times last season but all 3 were somewhat uncompetitive small field events. His current mark looks a little high for what he’s actually achieved. Saying all that, the 40/1 currently available does look a little big. He’s somewhat unexposed still and stays well.
Just A Par – is a big old unpredictable slow-boat. Apparently being trained for the National so I wouldn’t expect him to be winning this.
Le Reve – saves his best for Sandown and was very poor on reappearance last week
Seventh Sky – has no form at 3miles
Splash of Ginge – doesn’t either
Royal Player – form figures/letters of PPP say enough
Summary: I have 3 of the first 6 in the betting as likely non-runners. Coneygree is still in the Betfair Chase so it could cut up even further. The market leader Saphir is highly opposable at 5/1. There’s currently just 2 horses at single figure prices, on the day there was 6 last year (5 in 2013). This is a market to get stuck into ante-post and get some fancy prices in the book before the market develops properly.
There’s 2 I really like, both coming from last year’s novice class with some room for improvement, due to be aimed at the race and likely to cope with the staying nature of the race.
1 point win The Young Master at 16/1 with Ladbrokes, Coral and William Hill
1 point win If In Doubt 25/1 at 25/1 with Coral and Stan James
Southfield Theatre, Smad Place and Houblon des Obeaux could easily be added at a later date..