Nicholls grabbed the headlines last weekend and he’ll be more than hopeful of winning another Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury tomorrow with either of his two potential stars of the future.
Aiteen Thirtythree currently heads the betting at 11/2 and it’s no secret that this seven-year-old has always been the apple of his trainer’s eye. Nicholls was delighted with his reappearance over an inadequate trip at Kempton last month and that outing would have put him spot on for this.
However, the one concern I have is he lacks the experience of big fields – he has never raced in a field of more than 12 horses before and was well beaten when taking on 11 rivals in the RSA Chase. The same can also be said of his highly-touted stablemate Michel Le Bon who will be having only his second run over fences and hasn’t seen a racecourse for 730 days. I’m less worried about his fitness, but would be concerned about his ability to cope with the hurly burly of the Hennessy.
The two that interest me most are Donald McCain’s WYMOTT and Ian Williams’ Wayward Prince with narrow preference for the former. Wymott is set to carry just 10st 2lb tomorrow and hasn’t been seen since picking up an injury in last season’s RSA. His top class trainer has gradually nursed him back to full fitness and wouldn’t be throwing him in here if he wasn’t confident he had him back to somewhere near his best.
Wymott is decent each-way value at around 7/1 with Ladbrokes and has the potential to make a mockery of his current mark. As for Wayward Prince, he has some of the best form on offer and has proved he goes well fresh. I can forgive his Aintree flop as he was almost certainly over the top and the ground was probably too lively for him. There won’t be much between them tomorrow and it’s just Wymott’s more lenient mark that tilts the vote his way.
Elsewhere on Newbury’s card tomorrow it will probably take an act of God to stop Big Buck’s winning another Sportingbet Long Distance Hurdle. However, he’ll be too short for my money and I’d rather take a chance on OVERTURN in the Fighting Fifth at Newcastle at 7/2 with William Hill. He arguably profited from Oscar Whisky’s final flight fall at Ascot last weekend but is race fit and may prove too strong for Binocular.
It’s Gentlemen’s Day at Newbury this afternoon and I’ll be backing Paul Nicholls’ newcomer RANJAAN in the opener. The former French-trained three-year-old has apparently been schooling well having been gelded. Bobs Worth should prove too strong for Cue Card with a decent pull at the weights, but a better bet could be the same stable’s AIGLE D’OR to win the Sportingbet Handicap Chase for the second year running.
Finally, Paul Nicholls and Nicky Henderson both introduce potentially top-class newcomers to the hurdling division in the last. Broomfield is respected, but will have to be very good to stop Henderson’s MONO MAN making a successful debut. I’ll be at Newbury today and you can follow my views on Twitter @BillEsdaile.
RANJAAN 1.00pm Newbury (today)
AIGLE D’OR 3.15pm Newbury (today)
MONO MAN 3.50pm Newbury (today)
OVERTURN 2.20pm Newcastle (tomorrow)
WYMOTT e/w 3.10pm Newbury (tomorrow)