Rocky Creek can land knockout punch in the Hennessy

Bill Esdaile
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Bill Esdaile previews tomorrow’s legendary steeplechase and the best of today’s horse racing at Newbury

NATIONAL Hunt racing fans have a mouth-watering renewal of the Hennessy Gold Cup to look forward to at Newbury tomorrow. A field of 19 is set to line up for the historic 3m 2 1/2f steeplechase, which is the longest running commercial sponsorship in world sport.

The market is headed by the well-backed Willie Mullins-trained Djakadam, who will be making his first racecourse reappearance since falling at the Cheltenham Festival.

The vibe from Ireland is that this fellow is dangerously well-handicapped and there is every chance he could make a mockery of a mark of 142. However, at a best-priced 9/2, I am prepared to leave him alone on the basis that he has failed to complete his two starts in double-figure fields and has never run over further than 2m 5f before.

Smad Place, a whisker away from landing the RSA Chase, will handle the testing conditions and the trip will also be no problem. Yet he has been beaten on the big stage on too many occasions and is another plenty short enough in the betting.

Many Clouds looked in good heart on his reappearance at Carlisle, but it may have been a mistake to pick up that 7lb penalty and for that reason he also represents little value.

ROCKY CREEK, runner-up last year, looks the safest proposition at 10/1 with Paddy Power and I am prepared to take a chance on him to keep up the recent good run of trainer Paul Nicholls.

Unlike 12 months ago, he lines up with a run under his belt and stablemate Silviniaco Conti showed last week how the Ditcheat runners seem to come on a bundle for that first run. He will love the ground, the trip will be no problem and he looks the best bet.

There is some decent action at Newbury this afternoon on day two of the bet365 Hennessy Festival. Alan King has a fine record with juveniles and KAREZAK looks to be one of his best this season.

The son of Azamour won impressively at Chepstow last month and he should take all the beating in today’s opener (12.25pm), despite having to carry a 6lb penalty.

UNIQUE DE COTTE landed a big gamble at Cheltenham a fortnight ago and I think he will go in again under AP McCoy in the Pertemps series qualifier (1.30pm). He still looks very well handicapped and will relish the step up in trip.

■ Pointers…
KAREZAK 12.25pm Newbury (today)
UNIQUE DE COTTE 1.30pm Newbury (today)
ROCKY CREEK e/w 3.00pm Newbury (tomorrow)