Friday, November 30, 2012

The Hennessy Gold Cup and The Fighting Fifth 2012

Like many, I tend to prefer a young up-and-coming chaser for the Hennessy; the race was switched from Cheltenham to Newbury in 1960 - the number of times the variously aged horses have won is shown below:

6 year old:    7
7 year old:  21
8 year old:  11
9 year old:  10
10 year old:  2
11 year old:  1

Horses aged seven to nine have won 42 of the 52 runnings, while seven-year-olds boast a 40.38% strike rate in that period.

This year's renewal looks as competitive as ever with Nicky Henderson's RSA winner Bobs Worth priced up favourite at around the 7/2 mark. Alan King, who had a notable winner with Bless The Wings earlier today, tells us in the Weekender Hold On Julio ' unquestionably the best chance I have had of landing the famous race', while The Package comes here in fine heart having taken Wincanton's Badger Ales Trophy three weeks ago but regular pilot Timmy Murphy may miss the ride after falling from Leeroar in Newbury's finale this afternoon.

I tipped Carruthers to win the Hennessy last year;  this year the trainer has been pretty bullish about his charge (despite a couple of below par efforts) although the horse would not want the ground to dry out too much and become sticky. Carruthers is certainly a big price and will stay the trip but I'm going to desert him for the 2011 Neptune Novices' Hurdle winner First Lieutenant. Irish trained runners have an abysmal record in the race but this one was beaten just two and a half lengths by Bobs Worth in the RSA last March; he's in receipt of one pound from that rival now and already has two runs under his belt, last time finishing a length behind Kauto Stone in the Champion Chase at Down Royal. At 10/1 he represents reasonable each-way value, although I'm not convinced the final two and a half furlongs are exactly what he needs.

Those looking for a lightweight at a price could do worse than consider the form of Alfie Spinner (18/1 Sky Bet) when finishing two and three quarter lengths behind Bobs Worth, both beaten by Invictus at Ascot in February; Invictus was to be my selection for the RSA in March but he picked up an injury and never made the race...

In a nutshell, two each-way chances against the field - First Lieutenant (10/1) and Alfie Spinner (18/1).

There's an eight o'clock inspection up at Newcastle tomorrow morning; if the meeting gets the go-ahead there will be just four runners in the Fighting Fifth. Donald McCain's Cinders And Ashes races off 151 and is priced up odds on this evening while Triumph Hurdle winner Countrywide Flame, rated 152, is on offer at 4/1 with several layers. No four-year-old has won this in the past decade but John Quinn's charge comes here fit from the Flat (he was second in Cesarewitch) and may handle the ground better than the favourite. The McCain operation has had a couple of winners of late but certainly hasn't been firing on all cylinders and the handler hints his charge will come on for the run. Obviously a tactical affair is the danger with such a small field - I just wonder whether Denis O'Regan may try to race from the front on Countrywide Flame. At 4/1 Countrywide Flame represents a value play against Cinders And Ashes.


Sandracer said...

Fruity Orooney at 25's might have a squeak.. maybecoloperl

GeeDee said...

Hi Sandracer,

Yes, Fruity O'Rooney was on my list of horses at a price. Showed up really well for a very long way at 33s, eventually coming home seventh. Excellent effort - where will connections go from here?

GeeDee said...

Alfie Spinner (25/1) got no further than the third but First Lieutenant (12/1) raced prominently for much of the race and looked in with a shout of winning three out. Barry Geraghty had other ideas on Bobs Worth (4/1) and the favourite took over before the last to go on to score by three and a quarter lengths from Tidal Bay (8/1) with the selection a further five lengths back in third.

Bobs Worth is now favourite in the ante-post Gold Cup market, priced as low as 7/2 (Paddy Power) for the Cheltenham showpiece; compare that to the 25/1 on offer about The Giant Bolster, second in the race last March...

The Newcastle meeting was given the all-clear. Now, this doesn't happen very often but I can say selection Countrywide Flame (11/4) won the Fighting Fifth with something in hand... It looked jolly impressive but I'd treat the form with caution; connections said afterwards heavy ground was the reason behind the defeat of Cinders And Ashes and, whilst I don't like excuses, on this occasion I'd be prepared to forgive the favourite this effort.