The Hennessy Gold Cup Chase can provide pointers to next year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup and Grand National, even at this comparatively early stage of the season – so have we any potential stars on show at Newbury this weekend?
If any of the 19-strong field are to go on to glory in the spring, you suspect it will be Bobs Worth. Very lightly-raced over fences, Nicky Henderson‘s charge beat First Lieutenant in the RSA Chase at the Festival in March and there is no reason why he won’t confirm the form at Newbury despite a small turnaround in the weights. The extra distance will suit Bobs Worth, who has those rare qualities in a staying chaser – stamina and a turn of foot – and for once we agree with the bookmakers. You are gambling a little on his potential at sportingbet‘s 21/5, and he may be bigger come raceday, but we can’t find anything to beat him at present.
So where’s the value? Only one horse aged 10 or over has won this valuable handicap since the Sixties which puts a bit of a dampener on the rejuvenated Tidal Bay (a general 8/1), last season’s Irish National winner Lion Na Bearnai (51/1 on Betfair) and Roberto Goldback (a general 25/1), though the latter did beat Duke Of Lucca and Alfie Spinner in a Grade 3 handicap at Ascot on his reappearance. Frisco Depot fell in that race but is only 62/5 for this on Betfair, though I’d worry about his jumping as they rarely take any prisoners in the Hennessy.
On some form lines you could give a real each-way chance to Harry The Viking at the general 25/1. He beat Saint Are (a general 16/1) at Doncaster last season and followed up against Ikorodu Road (80/1 on Betfair) on Town Moor before chasing home Teaforthree (16/1 with Ladbrokes) in the National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham. Of course, pulling up in the Scottish National and on his return to action isn’t ideal preparation but Paul Nicholls wouldn’t be running him here if he didn’t think him capable of a good run and he’s on an attractive weight. Hold On Julio (15/2 with sportingbet, Blue Square and 888sport) and Wincanton winner The Package (64/5 on Betfair) are others who have attracted support but only the most optimistic will anticipate a return to form for 2010 winner Diamond Harry and last year’s victor Carruthers and it’s just as hard to fancy Fruity O’Rooney, Soll and dubious stayer Magnanimity. Bobs to prove his Worth.