O’faolains the boy to follow
Charlie McCann on the Hennessy Gold Cup
The Hennessy Gold Cup is one of the great races of the jumps season and this most valuable and prestigious handicap has been won by some of the greats of the turf including Mill House (1963), Arkle (1964/5) Burrough Hill Lad (1984), One Man (1994) and Denman (2007/9).
Nine of the last eleven winners of the race have carried 11st or more and,at the time of writing, former Gold Cup winner Coneygree is due to carry top-weight for Mark Bradstock. The nine-year-old was due to return to the track in the Betfair Chase earlier in the month and if successful connections may wish to go straight to Kempton and the King George if the £1m Triple Crown Bonus is still up for grabs.
Having recommended an antepost wager at 12/1 on Coneygree for the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March I am looking for a big run at Haydock but will look elsewhere for the Newbury handicap despite the fact that his half-brother (Carruthers) won the corresponding race back in 2011.
Wounded Warrior (40/1) is a horse whose reappearance I am looking forward to but he does not appeal as a betting proposition as trainer Noel Meade, who has never saddled the winner of this famous race,has the 7-yearold well entered up including in the Becher Chase at Aintree next month.
Native River is the 6/1 favourite at BetVictor and the horse ran a cracker back over timber when finishing runner up in the West Yorkshire Hurdle on his seasonal return at Wetherby.
Champion jockey Richard Johnson made most on the chestnut to win a weak Grade 1 at Aintree back in the spring, with the Colin Tizzard-trained runner having shaped like a thorough stayer when second in the 4m NH Chase at the Cheltenham Festival previously. The 6year-old might lack a touch of class one normally associates with a Hennessy winner but it will be a surprise to see him out of the frame and he is a must for any shortlist.
One to keep on the right side of this term is Ben Pauling’s Drumacoo who made such a stunning British debut when running away with a Huntingdon Novice Chase following a long absence back in January.
The 7-year-old clearly goes well fresh and I’m convinced he’s better than he showed on his only subsequent start when fourth behindVyta Du Roc (likely to re-oppose on the same terms) at Ascot in the Reynoldstown Novices’ Chase. The gelding is 33/1 at BetVictor but is currently 1lb out of the handicap and needs fifteen defectors before he is guaranteed a run;if he faces the starter at Newbury he is no forlorn hope and one we should keep on the right side of wherever he reappears.
Neil King’s Milansbar is 50/1 and is another from an unfashionable stable who strikes me as one for a big handicap later in the year but the each way vote goes to former RSA Chase winner O’Faolains Boy (10/1 at BetVictor) trained by Rebecca Curtis.
The selection beat non-other than Smad Place in the RSA of 2014 and will meet last year’s Hennessy winner on 15lbs better terms. The 9-year-old is not the most consistent of animals but at his best he is not far off top class and his 15 length thrashing of Sausilito Bay over three miles here back in December showed he was no back-number.
The last Welsh trained winner of the Hennessy was State Of Play a decade ago for Evan Williams but in a renewal that is hard to describe as vintage I hope O’Faolains Boy can land the Newbury feature.
Hennessy Gold Cup recommendation: 1 point each way O’Faolains Boy (10/1 BetVictor)