PAUL JA­COBS

Racing Ahead - - CONTENTS -

Naps king makes his se­lec­tion for the Hen­nessy

Novem­ber into De­cem­ber is a great time of the sea­son for Na­tional Hunt fans with some fantastic rac­ing of us as long as the low ly­ing sun doesn’t play too much havoc!

The Hen­nessy Gold Cup at New­bury on Novem­ber 26th has al­ways been a favourite big race of mine both as a punt­ing medium and as a race to take for­ward through the whole na­tional hunt sea­son.

It has a huge ef­fect on the stay­ing chas­ing de­ci­sion fur­ther down the line whether it is the Chel­tenham Gold Cup or in­deed the Ain­tree Grand Na­tional.

My big­gest punt­ing triumph came in 2012 when I backed Bob­sWorth at 33/1 to win both the New­bury con­test and the Chel­tenham Gold Cup.

When he was at the top of the hill at Chel­tenham and had to side step Sil­vini­aco Conti I thought his chance of gone, but surge be­tween the home bend and the last fence was truly in­cred­i­ble. I was work­ing for Time­form Ra­dio at the Fes­ti­val at the time and had to go on air and give the S.P’s af­ter the race and I was phys­i­cally trem­bling and only just got the words out.

Any­way enough of fond mem­o­ries,the Hen­nessy has al­ways been a kind race to sec­ond sea­son, un­ex­posed chasers and there are sev­eral run­ners that fall firmly into that cat­e­gory this year.

How­ever, there was a stayer that fit­ted snugly into that pro­file last year, but didn’t ful­fil the prom­ise of his novice sea­son.

Cue Saphir Du Rheu trained by Paul Nicholls. Fol­low­ing a brilliant suc­cess in the 2015 Colin Parker Me­mo­rial at Carlisle he was sent off the 9/2 favourite at New­bury but af­ter rac­ing promi­nently he nearly took the 15th fence by the roots and weak­ened to fin­ish 22 lengths off Smad Place in fifth spot.

His sub­se­quent runs in the high­est class proved he wasn’t up to cham­pi­onship sta­tus and Nicholls openly ad­mits he may have over­es­ti­mated him.

How­ever, the seven-year-old is now a full 10lbs lower than last year and started off the sea­son with a crack­ing stay­ing on third in the Sodexo Gold Cup at As­cot, giv­ing lumps of weight away to an un­ex­posed younger horse.

That run was badly needed as he blew like a hur­ri­cane in the un­sad­dling en­clo­sure and he re­ally shouldn’t be a dou­ble fig­ure price, yet 10/1 is still read­ily avail­able.

Mar­ket leader Na­tive River ran a nice sea­son opener atWetherby and he saw off fel­low sec­ond sea­son chaser Un Temps Pour Tout in a grade two at the track last year and at the weights there should be lit­tle be­tween them this year; both need se­ri­ous con­sid­er­a­tion.

Of the re­main­der,I think Out­lander has been cry­ing out for three miles and he would be the other each-way al­ter­na­tive should he line-up.

My early thoughts on the King Ge­orge VI Chase on Box­ing Day are shaped by events set to take place in the next few weeks. Will Thistle­crack jump bet­ter at New­bury and get a chance to run at Kemp­ton? Is Cue Card on the down­grade or will the Bet­fair Chase re­verse that Wetherby thought?

What­ever the an­swer to those two questions Valseur Lido is one to keep on­side fol­low­ing his smooth Down Royal suc­cess and he is in my mind sim­ply a late bloomer. Even if those two ri­vals line up against him at Christ­mas I feel he would have more than a fight­ing chance of match­ing them with the dis­tinct pos­si­bil­ity of more im­prove­ment to come.

Saphir Du Rheu

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