The Colin Tizzard juggernaut can keep rolling
How sad it will be to lose Hennessy from racing sponsorship after Saturday’s 60th running of the Gold Cup that bears the Cognac house’s name.
The race is part of the sport’s folklore and has created great champions, a virtual impossible act to follow. The name had punch, prowess and extols the virtues of ‘less is more’ in race titles.
Much like the Whitbread you do not appreciate how crucial and significant such a marquee name, or important effect they had, until they are gone. Farewell old friend and thank you for all the support you gave to our sport.
His price is easy to understand. He was second in the National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham to Minella Rocco, before going on to win the Mildmay Novices’ Chase, a Grade One at Aintree, and had Henri Parry Morgan, Blaklion and Un Temps Pour Tout all behind him.
Since then he has run a blinder over hurdles on his seasonal reappearance. He tried to make all with zest and determination he was just run out of it at the end by Silsol, with Lil Rockerfeller in third. Neil King’s game hurdler franked the form by nearly seeing off Yanworth at Ascot last week.
Richard Johnson takes the mount and a possible bold, front-running display may ensue. Naively I went in search of value early doors and I’ve already done my money, having piled in on Wounded Warrior, who went to Thurles on Thursday. Luckily I didn’t chase my losses. The other horse I have already invested in is Houblon Des Obeaux (non-runner), who was second to Many Clouds in this off a 4lb higher mark in 2014.
Also on his CV is a second to Coneygree in the 2015 Denman Chase, a race which he came back to win in February. His form figures on seasonal reappearance are 3191129. I just hope its soft enough out there as the day could be expensive without really getting a run - you sense I feel the worse.
Having considered all the form, for me it is hard to look beyond the favourite.
Such is the strength in depth to Colin Tizzard's stable that a few hours earlier he saddles Thistlecrack in another novice chase.
We will all scrutinise his jumping, especially as our minds are full of Cue Card’s victory run in the Betfair Chase - lest we forget the pleasing return of Coneygree in second place.
If Thistlecrack executes a clear round will his price contract for the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup in March?
Hidden Cyclone is enjoying a renaissance over hurdles and he disposed of Rashaan by two lengths, giving lumps of weight at Punchestown in October. Rashaan subsequently defeated both Apple’s Jade and Petit Mouchoir at Down Royal earlier this month.
That one defeat was immediate cause for some to dismiss Apples Jade’s chances of competing in a Champion Hurdle. It was a bit harsh, as she only blossomed last season after her second in the Triumph Hurdle, so is she a ‘Spring’ horse?
Sceau Royal’s last encounter with Apple’s Jade saw him toiling 50+ lengths behind her at Aintree. Since then he has mopped up a couple of prizes including the Elite Hurdle at Wincanton.
Sceau Royal is 20-1 for the Champion Hurdle, while in places Apples Jade is 33-1, mind you Coral are only 10-1 while Ladbrokes are 12-1. It’s hard to believe in just a few months Apple’s Jade has regressed to an extent that a Fighting Fifth is beyond her.
Tanya Stevenson’s Saturday tips:
2.55 Newcastle: Apple’s Jade at 9-4 generally available
3.10 Newbury: Native River at 6-1 generally available
Tanya Stevenson’s Saturday pointers:
3.10 Newbury - Hennessy Gold Cup:
Paul Nicholls and Nicky Henderson are both seeking their fourth victory
Eight of the last ten winners of the Hennessy were priced no bigger than 10-1
Only two of the last 20 winners were aged nine or over (today trying to defy the stat Smad Place, Holywell, Houblon Des Obeaux, Trio D’Alene, Double Ross, Theatre Guide, Hadrian’s Approach)
Fifteen of the last 20 winners came from the first five in the betting
Only four of the last 20 winners had previously run in the race
Nineteen of the last 20 winners had only failed to complete on no more than two occasions
Five of the last ten winners were having their seasonal debut
Eight of the last ten winners carried 11-1 or more (today Smad Place, Un Temps Pour Tout, Holywell and Native River)
Seventeen of the last 20 winners finished no worse than third on their most recent run (Un Temps Pour Tout, Native River, Saphir Du Rheu, Vicente, Theatre Guide, Coologue, Regal Encore, Vyta Du Roc)
Seven of the last ten winners had run at that year’s Cheltenham Festival (four in the RSA, three in the Gold Cup)
Six of the last ten winners had run at that year’s Aintree Grand National Festival
Seven winners since 1994 had run in the RSA Chase at Cheltenham that year
Twelve of the last 18 winners had run no more than seven times over fences
From 101 runners over the last ten years eight of the last ten winners were aged 7 or younger
From 98 runners over the last eleven years only three of the last ten winners were aged 8 or over.
The horses to carry top weight to victory in recent years are Burrough Hill Lad in 1984, Trabolgan in 2005 and Denman 2007 & 2009 (Smad Place)
2.40 Newbury - bet365 Intermediate Hurdle:
Nicky Henderson has won the race six times
Rock On Ruby 2011 and Afsoun 2006 both carried 11-10 to victory
3.45 Newbury - bet365 Handicap Chase:
Nine of the last ten winners were no older than eight
Nine of the last ten winners were priced no bigger than 7-1
2.55 Newcastle - StanJames.com Fighting Fifth Hurdle:
Eight of the last ten winners came from the first two in the betting
Eight of the last ten winners finished no worse than second on their most recent run
Katchit in 2007 (3rd), Punjabi in 2008 (won) & Binocular 2009 (5th) all ran in the Fighting Fifth before going on to win the Champion Hurdle that season
All of the last eleven winners who went on to run in the Champion Hurdle only Punjabi won, however four finished second and one third.
Nine of the last 12 winners went on to run in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton, three won, 2004 Harchibald, 2009 Go Native & 2013 My Tent Or Yours
Six of the last ten winners had finished no worse than third at the Cheltenham Festival earlier in the year (Apples Jade 2nd in Triumph)