Hennessy Gold Cup
|Grade 3 Handicap, Newbury 15:00
3m 2f 110y, Class 1
|Saturday 29th November 2014|
Nineteen chasers are due to line up for Saturday’s 58th edition of the Hennessy Gold Cup , the longest-running commercial sponsorship in world sport.
"As long as we get a clear two weeks he'll definitely go to the Hennessy," said the Alcester trainer.
"I don't want it too soft, but soft wouldn't be a problem.
"Anything worse than that would inconvenience us. In an ideal world, it would be good to soft.
"He's obviously going the right way. We're not holding any dreams about him winning the race, but I think he will be competitive.
"He should be a bit better going left-handed, as well."
David Pipe expects Ballynagour to run with honour on Saturday - as long as his stamina holds out.
Ballynagour has, however, never been campaigned over the Hennessy's extended three-and-a-quarter-mile trip so will be taking a shot into the unknown.
The Nicholashayne handler told www.davidpipe.com: "Ballynagour will be carrying the hopes of Pond House.
"He seems very well at home and Tom Scudamore was in schooling him the other day.
"Fingers crossed our Festival winner, if getting the trip, should run well."
Trainer Martin Keighley was happy with the six-year-old's performance in finishing third to the dead-heating Fox Appeal and Theatre Guide in what was the Feltham Chase winner's first run since the RSA Chase at Cheltenham in March.
"I was pleased with that," said the Condicote handler.
"He always needs his first run. He wants further and he wants headgear back on.
"He'll go for the Hennessy. That's where we'll go."
Nov 3 Many Clouds staked a strong claim for the blue riband event when making a successful reappearance in the Colin Parker Memorial Intermediate Chase at Carlisle on November 3.
Trainer Oliver Sherwood elected not to take Many Clouds to work at Newbury as the racecourse stepped up its publicity drive ahead of the big meeting.
Sherwood explained that the Trevor Hemmings-owned gelding had "done enough" in his comeback race at Carlisle, and would complete his Hennessy preparation at home.
Willie Mullins’ Djakadam could bid to become the first ever five-year-old to win the race and the first Irish winner since Bright Highway in 1980.
"We're hoping that Djakadam is well handicapped but he hasn't done anything to deserve a higher mark than 142," jockey Ruby Walsh told his Paddy Power blog.
"You're guessing that if he hadn't fallen in the JLT last March he may have gone very close.
"From where I was sitting (just in behind on Felix Yonger) he seemed to be travelling well enough when he tipped up four out.
"It's a catch-22 situation. If he had the experience he wouldn't have the mark he's on now. I'm hopeful he has the class to overcome that.
"He has always shaped like a three-miler and is in good form at home. It's a big ask for Djakadam - but I think he has a favourite's chance. Others can decide the price."
The in-form Philip Hobbs, who won the Hennessy back in 2001 with What’s Up Boys, is set to rely on Fingal Bay and the Minehead trainer is clearly excited about his prospects.
"He's in really good form. Whatever the ground is like won't matter to him, but if it is softer it might just slow some of the others down," said Hobbs.
"He's in very good shape and we're looking forward to the race.
"I had been thinking about getting a run into him but the ground meant that I couldn't and then it got too close.
"As it turns out, I think it's a bonus we haven't run him as he's won first time out for the past four seasons, so not having had a run won't be an issue."
Nicky Henderson has won the last two renewals of the race and last year’s winner Triolo D’Alene could bid for back-to-back successes. He could be joined by another Seven Barrows inmate, Hadrian’s Approach, who unseated Nico de Boinville at the fifth fence 12 months ago.
The Druids Nephew ran a solid race at Cheltenham a couple of weeks ago and he could represent Neil Mulholland.
The owner has been buoyed by the fine victory of Al Ferof in the Amlin Chase at Ascot last weekend as both horses had been suffering from ulcers which have since been treated.
And with Sam Twiston-Davies aboard stablemate Rocky Creek, Fehily has been booked to ride Unioniste for the first time.
The Paul Nicholls-trained grey put up a classy performance to defeat Wishfull Thinking by seven lengths in a Listed race at Aintree last December.
He never recaptured that form and after taking his chance in the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas, he was well beaten in competitive handicaps at Doncaster and Aintree.
With Unioniste's problems reportedly behind him, Hales is optimistic of a good run.
"He runs on Saturday and it's great that Noel Fehily rides," he said.
He has had the race as his aim since then and recently had a racecourse gallop at Newbury.
King, who had a treble at the Berkshire track on Thursday, said: "We've been very happy with him at home, but I just felt a day out last week would benefit him to give him a change of scenery and get the adrenaline back up.
"He hasn't been on a racecourse since March, so it was important to give him an away day,
"His form suggests he has a big chance - the bookmakers say so - so I'd hope he has a big chance.
Hennessy Gold Cup Chase (Grade 3 Handicap)
£175,000 added, 4yo plus, 3m 2f 110y, Class 1
Going: Soft, Heavy in places on hurdles course
|1||143 96U-||Houblon Des Obeaux (FR) 217||7||11-12||Aidan Coleman||Miss V Williams|
|2||1/13 10P-||Triolo D'Alene (FR) 238||7||11-12||B J Geraghty||N J Henderson|
|3||13/2 25-2||Rocky Creek (IRE) 28||8||11-11 t1||S Twiston-Davies||P F Nicholls|
|4||18/P 132-||Ballynagour (IRE) 214||8||11-10 t||T Scudamore||D Pipe|
|5||33/U 112-||Smad Place (FR) 262||7||11-10||D F O'Regan||A King|
|6||12R/ 11-5||Fingal Bay (IRE) 212||8||11-8||R Johnson||P J Hobbs|
|7||1PP 02-7||Vino Griego (FR) 28||9||11-7 v||J E Moore||G L Moore|
|8||212 B4-1||Many Clouds (IRE) 27||7||11-6||L P Aspell||O Sherwood|
|9||4/31 838-||Unioniste (FR) 238||6||11-6||N D Fehily||P F Nicholls|
|10||341 57-2||Monbeg Dude (IRE) 49||9||11-1||Paul Moloney||M Scudamore|
|11||621 28-3||Annacotty (IRE) 26||6||11-1 b||G Sheehan||M Keighley|
|12||565 P-11||What A Warrior (IRE) 28||7||10-11 t||Harry Skelton||D Skelton|
|13||124/ 11F-||Djakadam (FR) 261||5||10-11||R Walsh||W P Mullins|
|14||4F2 P-12||The Druids Nephew (IRE) 14||7||10-10 p||D N Russell||N P Mulholland|
|15||2F1 1P-3||Wychwoods Brook 31||8||10-10||Adam Wedge||Evan Williams|
|16||61U 211-||Midnight Prayer 263||9||10-10||Tom Bellamy (5)||A King|
|17||F11 41-1||Via Sundown (FR) 17||6||10-9||Joshua Moore||G L Moore|
|18||U34 P2-1||Le Reve (IRE) 21||6||10-8 p||D C Costello||Mrs L Wadham|
|19||553 P4-3||Merry King (IRE) 28||7||10-7 p||A P McCoy||Jonjo O'Neill|