THE Hennessy Gold Cup (3.00pm), the culmination of the Hennessy Heritage Festival at The Racecourse Newbury, is one of the most prestigious events on the National Hunt calendar and racegoers will be mixing with the likes of Joan Collins, James Corden and Tinchy Stryder tomorrow afternoon.
It is always a great race, but it hasn’t been a happy hunting ground for the Irish in recent years. Willie Mullins thought he had won it in 2002 with Be My Royal, who passed the post first but was later disqualified after testing positive for a banned substance. The last Irish success was way back in 1980 with Bright Highway, however I think their luck could be about to change as last year’s RSA Chase winner LORD WINDERMERE must have an outstanding chance.
Regular readers of this column may remember us backing him at 10/1 for the RSA and there is no reason to desert him tomorrow.
I was at the racecourse for a media event earlier this week and to say that his trainer Jim Culloty is bullish is an understatement. Lord Windermere is reportedly twice the horse he was last term and he will absolutely relish this stamina test. The last three RSA winners to run in the Hennessy the following season all won, so take the 7/1 with Coral about my selection continuing that trend.
It’s a very competitive race and you would have to fear Paul Nicholls’ Rocky Creek, as well as David Pipe’s Our Father, who always runs best fresh. There are plenty of other dangers, but I can’t see Lord Windermere finishing out of the frame.
There’s a big meeting at Newcastle tomorrow as well and AP McCoy makes the long journey up to ride My Tent Or Yours in the Stan James Fighting Fifth Hurdle (2.05pm).
Nicky Henderson’s big Champion Hurdle hope is lightning quick over the smaller obstacles and he will surely pick up some big prizes this season. Although tomorrow might not be the day.
As has been widely reported, a number of Henderson’s string have been needing their first run and My Tent Or Yours is taking on a progressive animal in MELODIC RENDEZVOUS.
Jeremy Scott’s inmate was a big drifter in the Elite Hurdle at Wincanton last time, but he still managed to win and that run could give him the edge against the favourite. See if you can find any 11/4 as that is more than fair.
Back to Newbury and there is some interesting action this afternoon. Alan King has made a good start to the season and I fancy him to land the opener (12.30pm) with CHOCALA.
The juvenile has some decent form on the flat and there should be enough dig in the ground for him to perform at his best today. King has said that if he has a Triumph Hurdle horse this season, it’s this fellow and that’s good enough for me.
The bet365 Open Handicap Chase (2.40pm) is as competitive as ever and I can see Ackertac running well off top weight on only his second start for Tim Vaughan.
However, he might not be able to repel Pauline Robson’s UPSILON BLEU who ran well on his seasonal reappearance at Kelso and looks to have been laid out for this race.
Timmy Murphy takes the ride and he is the perfect pilot for this exciting five-year-old who could go a long way over fences.
CHOCALA 12.30pm Newbury (today)
UPSILON BLEU e/w 2.40pm Newbury (today)
MELODIC RENDEZVOUS 2.05pm Newcastle (tomorrow)
LORD WINDERMERE e/w 3.00pm Newbury (tomorrow)