Favourite Invictus set for Gold Cup charge as race day looms

Bill Esdaile
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TRAINER Alan King hopes Hennessy Gold Cup favourite Invictus can showcase his capability in this month’s big race at Newbury.

The £175,000 showpiece will be the first time the colt has competed since winning the Grade Two Reynoldstown Novices’ Chase at Ascot in February 2012, after later straining a tendon ahead of the RSA Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.

King said: “The injury was bad, there was no way we were going to get him back in a year.

“Whatever he does in the Hennessy he’ll improve. We’ve done as much as we can with him, but we’re not going to have him 100 per cent whatever we do. The handicapper has dropped him to a mark of 145, so we’ll have to see.”

Newbury clerk of the course Richard Osgood says the current going conditions are good-to-soft on the chase course and soft, good-to-soft in places on the hurdles course, though Invictus has form in the book no matter what conditions are like underfoot at the Berkshire course.

King expects to have six or seven runners over the three-day festival, with Medinas entered in the bet365 Long Distance Hurdle and The Pirate’s Queen in the Thoroughbred Breeders Fund Mares Novices Listed Hurdle Race.

He will also saddle Wilde Blue Yonder in the novices’ hurdle and Chocala in the juvenile novices’ hurdle. In a nod to their long-running sponsorship of the Gold Cup, the meeting will be known as the Hennessy Heritage Festival, with total prize money of £570,000.