The Hennessy Gold Cup usually attracts a field of promising second season chasers in addition to a few experienced three milers and the 2013 renewal on Saturday 30th November is no exception.
With the withdrawal of Tidal Bay, the weights have risen accordingly with a very competitive race now in prospect.
Leading most betting markets is the Paul Nicholls trained Rocky Creek. 888Sport are quoting 15/2 for the seven year old gelding who has raced only three times this year and was defeated by Dynaste at Aintree in April on his last outing. Nicholls has claimed that most of his horses have benefited from their seasonal debuts, which leaves a question mark against the chances of the favourite.
Racing fitness will also be crucial when assessing the hopes of second favourite Invictus who is priced at 8/1 by Bet365. His last racecourse appearance was in February 2012 when beating Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Bobs Worth at Ascot. He has since been affected by injury although trainer Alan King is confident of a bold showing.
Joint third favourite Lord Windermere won the Royal Sun Alliance Chase at Cheltenham in March but may have benefited from the last fence fall of Boston Bob. The seven year old is a consistent performer and may be involved in the finish with Sporting Bet offering him at 9/1.
Meanwhile, Paddy Power are offering the same price for Our Father from the in-form David Pipe yard. He is yet another horse returning from a fairly long absence after finishing fourth of five in a novices chase at Newbury in February. Similarly, Katenko from the Venetia Williams stable has not raced since beating Fruity O’Rooney by 12 lengths in January. Priced at 14/1 by Betvictor, he was soundly beaten in his seasonal reappearance last November after a long absence.
Fitness will not be an issue for Merry King who was second to Houblon des Oubeaux in early November and will be slightly better at the weights for this race. Boylesports are offering 12/1 for a horse who benefited from his first run last season.
Hadrians Approach is also expected to run well but has not won a race in six attempts while the Emma Lavelle trained HIGHLAND LODGE appears to be an autumn horse who performed creditably when a close second to Standing Ovation in October despite conceding nearly two stone. Although he may prefer softer ground, he is set to carry only 10st 11lb on Saturday and is priced at 12/1 by Ladbrokes.
Among the outsiders, Cue Card trainer Colin Tizzard is hopeful of good showing from THEATRE GUIDE who is available at 33/1 with Sporting Bet. He has raced primarily over 2m4f or less but may run into a place.
On the supporting card, At Fisher’s Cross attempts to win the Long Distance Hurdle after remaining unbeaten during last season’s novice campaign. As a potential winner of the World Hurdle in March, he is offered rather generously at 10/11 by Bet365 for Saturday’s race.