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
While the victory came 12 months later than expected, it still tasted just as sweet for the Barbury Castle handler as he continued his fine start to the season.
King admitted to having made a mistake by not giving the striking grey a prep race before last year's renewal, in which he finished fifth.
But his decision to send the eight-year-old to Kempton at the start of the month was fully vindicated by one of the most impressive Hennessy victories in recent times.
Within a few strides of the tape falling, the Grade Two-winning hurdler was placed close to the pace, with Fingal Bay behind early leader The Giant Bolster, before Smad Place was taken to the front by Wayne Hutchinson at the ninth fence.
Attacking each fence with great venom, the 7-1 shot had plenty of his rivals in trouble long before the business end and continued to turn the screw at the head of affairs.
Despite having raced with choke out for so long, Smad Place found extra reserves when asked for more by Hutchinson, whose partner measured the four fences in the home straight as fluently as he met the first.
Runner-up Theatre Guide stayed on dourly from the rear of the field, but he was in a different county to the winner and was beaten out of sight by 12 lengths.
Following his Hennessy romp, Smad Place received quotes of around 16-1 about winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March.
King said: "We hoped for a good run but that's taken my breath away.
"He (Hutchinson) was very brave, but I'm not sure that were the tactics we discussed.
"We thought he had a great chance last year but I was trying to be very clever and we came here without a run.
"This year we went to Kempton first and he was a different horse. I learnt from my mistake last year and Kempton helped get his confidence back.
"He loves to be up there and he deserved to win a big race as he'd been knocking on the door.
"He pricked his ears early on and was so relaxed within himself.
"From three out I thought they are not travelling and I knew it would only take a silly mistake to stop him, but he met the last few on a good stride."
Smad Place's victory also had added poignancy for King after Barbury Castle stable lad John Goggin died last week following a car crash.
"While this win means a lot, it doesn't bring him back," said King.
It was clear that the victory also meant a lot to 34-year-old Hutchinson, who had nothing but praise for the winning horse and trainer.
"That was brilliant," said the rider.
"I'm absolutely thrilled to bits - he was fab.
"It's all come together this year. He certainly enjoyed himself and so did I - he never missed a beat.
"I was always going to be positive and I was really confident in the horse.
"He had been placed in two World Hurdles so we knew he would stay three miles and he has gone and done it.
"It's fantastic to win these prestigious races. I remember coming here as a kid when Timmy Murphy won on Ever Blessed (1999).
"I stood there watching him come into the winner's enclosure and I now have to pinch myself that I've done it so many years later.
"The boss has been a great supporter of mine. He has made my career what it is."
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|