Hennessy Gold Cup
|Grade 3 Handicap, Newbury 15:00
3m 1f 214y, Class 1
|Saturday 28th November 2015|
1 Smad Place 7/1
2 Theatre Guide 12/1
3 First Lieutenant 20/1
NR: Fox Appeal (IRE), The Druids Nephew (IRE)
15 ran Distances: 12l, nk, 9l
TIME 6m 45.30s (slow by 14.30s)
Smad Place romps to 12 Length Hennessy success
Eight-year-old Smad Place, fifth in the Hennessy Gold Cup last season, dominated the iconic handicap chase over three and a quarter miles at Newbury and won impressively for owner Trish Andrews, trainer Alan King and jockey Wayne Hutchinson under 11st 4lb.
The grey, the sixth of his colour to succeed in the 59 runnings of the Hennessy Gold Cup, romped home by 12 lengths in tremendous style and is now priced at between 10/1 and 16/1 for the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March.
Smad Place jumped wonderfully from the beginning and Hutchinson soon had his mount racing in second, took the lead after the ninth fence and then never looked like relinquishing the advantage in Newbury's richest jump race, worth a record £200,000 this year.
The Hennessy Gold Cup once again delivered a race of the highest quality, with Theatre Guide (Colin Tizzard/Paddy Brennan, 12/1) running on to take second and Irish challenger First Lieutenant (Mouse Morris/Mark Enright, 20/1) a neck further back in third. Fingal Bay (Philip Hobbs/Richard Johnson) came home fourth, another nine lengths in arrears, while the 9/2 favourite, top-weight Saphir Du Rheu (Paul Nicholls/Sam Twiston-Davies), was prominent throughout but could find no more after the last and finished fifth, with the 2012 winner Bob's Worth (Nicky Henderson/Nico de Boinville, 11/2) in sixth. There were two non-runners, Fox Appeal and The Druids Nephew, and 15 ran.
Alan King, who trains at Barbury Castle in Wiltshire, said: "We fancied Smad Place big-time in this race last year but made the mistake of coming here with no prep run - that finished off his season.
"So that is why we decided to go to Kempton first with him this year. He got his nose back in front which helped to get his confidence back. He has always been a classy horse.
"It was a very ballsy ride from Wayne (Hutchinson) - I wasn't expecting him to be quite so bold! We were going to have Smad Place handy but I was in state of shock with a circuit to go.
"Smad Place really loves to be handy and measures his fences very well. He was third in a World Hurdle behind Big Buck's as a five-year-old so stamina was not going to be an issue.
"The horse had his ears pricked and I could see from three out that none of the others were really travelling. I knew after that that he would win providing he didn't do something silly.
"He won't be entered for the Grand National but he will have to have an entry in the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Smad Place has his confidence back - he won't have a lot of racing this season - one run before the Cheltenham Festival - he won't go for the King George.
"I am very proud of my team. It has been a difficult week for them as we lost a young lad, John Goggin, following a car crash last weekend. While today is obviously great, it doesn't bring him back."
Wayne Hutchinson said: "I'm absolutely thrilled to bits - Smad Place was fab. It has all come together this year - the boss (Alan King) was very hard on himself last year for coming straight to the Hennessy with the horse.
"Hats off to the boss, he knew exactly what he was going to do this time around. Smad Place loved being out in front at Kempton in his previous race, going from fence to fence in his comfort zone. I was really confident that that was the way to ride him. I said to the guvnor 'can we do the same again today?'
"I put my neck a little bit on the line because I don't think the boss thought I was going to be that positive. Smad Place has been placed in two World Hurdles and was keen with me last season in the Cotswold Chase, hit a flat spot and then stayed on again. So I thought he wanted to use his gears and get on with things - thankfully Smad Place has proved me right and kept me in a job!
"Smad Place certainly enjoyed himself and so did I. He was almost foot perfect - he might have got in tight to one in the straight but that would be nit-picking. When you are on a horse of his quality, they do the work for you - it is a case of just steering. It was a thrill.
"Today he jumped from fence to fence and was just relentless. It was a nice feeling to jump the last. When I saw the replay, I was astonished to see how far he had won by. The ground was soft but the horses got through it.
"It is fantastic to win such a prestigious race as the Hennessy. I have been coming here to watch it since I was young, I think the first one I saw was Ever Blessed winning in 1999. Success has not come overnight but the boss has always supported me.
"From a handicap point of view, that is it, he is going to have to step back up into graded races but that is a strong division. I am just delighted with today - he has won his big pot - and now it is onwards and upwards.
"It is great - the first big Saturday winner for me this season, while the boss won the BetVictor Gold Cup, another valuable handicap, two weeks ago. The team is in great form."
Hennessy Gold Cup Chase (Grade 3 Handicap)
£200,000 added, 4yo plus, 3m 1f 214y, Class 1
|Pos||D||Horse SP||Jockey Weight||Trainer||Age|
|1st||Smad Place (FR) 7/1||Wayne Hutchinson
|2nd||12||Theatre Guide (IRE) 12/1||P J Brennan
|C L Tizzard||8|
|3rd||nk||First Lieutenant (IRE) 20/1||M A Enright
|M F Morris||10|
|4th||9||Fingal Bay (IRE) 12/1||R Johnson
|P J Hobbs||9|
|5th||½||Saphir Du Rheu (FR) 9/2f||Sam Twiston-Davies
|P F Nicholls||6|
|6th||3¾||Bobs Worth (IRE) 11/2||Nico de Boinville
|N J Henderson||10|
|7th||4||The Giant Bolster 33/1||T Scudamore
|D G Bridgwater||10|
|8th||8||Ned Stark (IRE) 8/1||D F O'Regan
|9th||9||Houblon Des Obeaux (FR) 8/1||Aidan Coleman
|Miss V Williams||8|
|10th||1||Benbens (IRE) 33/1||Ryan Hatch (3)
|N A Twiston-Davies||10|
|11th||3½||Urano (FR) 22/1||D E Mullins
|W P Mullins||7|
|PU||If In Doubt (IRE) 8/1||B J Geraghty
|P J Hobbs||7|
|PU||Al Co (FR) 66/1||Sean Bowen
|UR||The Young Master 10/1||Mr S Waley-Cohen (3)
|N P Mulholland||6|
|UR||Splash of Ginge 25/1||Jamie Bargary (5)
|N A Twiston-Davies||7|
|NR||The Druids Nephew (IRE) 12/1||N D Fehily
|N P Mulholland||8|
|NR||Fox Appeal (IRE) 33/1||G Sheehan
|Miss E C Lavelle||8|