There’s something special about Hennessy Gold Cup day at Newbury, and we have another ultra competitive renewal this weekend to sort out and try and take a few quid off Paddy in the process. You hear me Paddy?
Connections of Djakadam have long felt these is a big race in him, and he might well score, but he’s a short enough price after his fall when last seen and I have to take him on.
Usually you need a sexy, progressive performer, but I’m going against that theory this year and just believe MERRY KING (3pm) will be hard to keep out the frame.
He wasn’t disgraced behind Triolo D’Alene last year in this contest and is miles better off at the weights. He stays all day and acts on the ground and was doing his best work at the end at Ascot last time. Tony McCoy is a plus – particularly as he has never won a Hennessy and is gagging to do so – and so is the low weight. He should hit the frame.
Hopefully the champ will be chasing a double as the odds on MORE OF THAT (2.25pm) should win the Long Distance Hurdle that Big Buck’s made his own. He’s the reigning World Hurdle champion at Cheltenham and should be too good for this field.
Ahead of the handicapper
SOLAR IMPULSE (3.35pm) could follow up his recent success at Wetherby for champion trainer Paul Nicholls. The selection is up 5lb for that win but could be ahead of the handicapper still as he made a bad blunder and idled on the run-in.
The Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle is generally seen as a Champion Hurdle Trial. There is no massive gun in the field this time, but I expect AURORE DE’ESTRUVAL (2.05pm) to give you a good run for your money.
Test of Stamina
John Quinn’s four-year-old mare gets 7lb from Irving who clearly has every chance of scoring at his best. But he took a nasty tumble last time and wasn’t going to win easily in any case. Irving has something to prove now while the younger selection could be improving fast.
Also at Newcastle is the ATR Rehearsal Chase which promises to be a proper stamina test. VICTORS SERENADE (2.40pm) bounced right back to his best last time at Chepstow beating Monbeg Dude by 2l. Although he has gone up 7lb for that win – he can still score again off that mark provided the effort hasn’t taken too much out of him.
- Ruby Walsh exclusive: Djakadam’s inexperience rather than his age is my concern in the Hennessy Gold Cup
- Camilla Henderson: Sprinter Sacre just needs more time but there’s a lot to look forward to at the Hennessy meeting
- Horse racing analysis: How it could pay not to be 2 reliant on eye-catching numbers
- TV Tips: Our cheat sheet guide to the best of Saturday’s racing on the tellybox