O’fao­lains the boy to fol­low

Char­lie McCann on the Hen­nessy Gold Cup

Racing Ahead - - CHARLIE MCCANN -

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)

O’Fao­lains Boy

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