The Hennessy Gold Cup is rightly viewed as one of the highlights of the jumps season and, down the years, has provided many headlines and tremendous stories to accompany the game we all love. This year should prove no different, with rising star Saphir Du Rheu set to meet the challenge of plenty of hardened stayers. Chiefly among them, the stirring return of Bobs Worth has caught the imagination in a season of comebacks – could he land another blow for the old guard? Let’s take a look a the main challengers:
SAPHIR DU RHEU (Paul Nicholls)
The sky is the limit for the Ditcheat six-year-old and some very big prizes this lie on the horizon should all go to plan. That is reflected in his very short price (4-1 the biggest on offer) as connections know they have a star on their hands, but this will be no walk in the park. The defection of Coneygree sends Saphir to the top of the weights and he will have to prove he is every bit as good as his growing reputation to shoulder that 11st 12lbs.
BOBS WORTH (Nicky Henderson)
Part of the Henderson team who look in such tremendous form this year. With the likes of Sprinter Sacre and Simonsig making such big noises on their returns from the same yard, Bobs Worth has rather crept under the radar. But be looks every bit as revived. Getting 10lbs from Saphir De Rheu does, for me, seriously underestimate his ability and champion jockey-in-waiting Richard Johnson would appear to agree. He describes old Bobs as “thrown in”. Another positive is Nico de Boinville picking up the ride. Probably the jockey of the moment.
SMAD PLACE (Alan King)
In a race such as this, an Alan King chaser relly has to be involved, doesn’t he? The form of Smad Place certainly stands up to a fair bit of scrutiny and he looked in fine nick on his seasonal reappearance. My big concern with him is the weight. I do not have him down as a better horse than Bobs Worth and therefore cannot make a case for him carrying 2lbs extra. He’s likely to be in the mix but all too likely to find one in front.
THE DRUIDS NEPHEW (Neil Mulholland)
I really like this horse and, more importantly, his chances here. I backed him in the Grand National where he ran so well for such a long way and had he not come down at the business end, I fully believe he would have gone close to winning. Aidan Coleman certainly said as much in the aftermath and he is of real interest here if he puts in a quality round of jumping. His return at Wetherby last month wasn’t great but it was little more than a pipe opener and he is likely to be much nearer the sharp end here. At the prices he probably represents the value of the race.
FINGAL BAY (Philip Hobbs)
Any horse representing the Hobbs/Johnson partnership deserves our utmost respect. And I love Fingal Bay as a competitor. The nine-year-old is ultra consistent and gets in here off a nice weight – and he’s one of those you can always rely upon to serve it up to those with so-called bigger reputations. He’s a Cheltenham Festival winner in his own right and it would be foolish to write him off.
IF IN DOUBT (Philip Hobbs)
Another of the Hobbs team who is very intriguing. Embarking on his second season as a chaser and that marks him out in the key trend for this race (seven of the last ten winners fall into this bracket). There is any amount of improvement to come from him and he’s likely to be a big player given the chance to stalk the pack.
Verdict: Despite the layers ducking for cover with regards Saphir Du Rheu, I simply can’t be having the 4-1 as value. BOBS WORTH is the more likely winner for me – completely reinvigorated and at 6-1 a far nicer price. THE DRUIDS NEPHEW at 14-1 is much more my idea of an each way shout, a horse who can jump and stay all day.
SELECTIONS: BOBS WORTH. 1pt win @ 6-1 (various)
THE DRUIDS NEPHEW: 0.5pts each way @ 14-1 (various)
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