Hennessy Gold Cup Selections:-
Rocky Creek – 1 point win 11/1
Many Clouds – ½ point win 9/1
Historically in this race you want a horse to have finished in the Top 3 last time out, had 0 or 1 runs this season and to be near the head of the market. 15 of the last 17 had also previously won over 24.5 furlongs.
For me Rocky Creek is bombproof at 11/1. We know he stays, we know he handles the ground and the race conditions (second last year) and he is still open to improvement. If you are to believe what Nicholls has been saying this horse is stronger than last year and he needed his seasonal reappearance. I reckon his season is about this race and if completing I would be slightly in shock were he not to place. 11/1 is too big given the questions over many of the others and I will take the brave win only route.
Many Clouds is a decent back up for a trainer in top form who has won this race before. While I have a slight concern over his stamina (his trainer doesn’t) he is a lovely horse who is open to improvement, has a touch of class, and deserves his place at the top of the market. He ticks a lot of the main trends I have used and the fact that I know he will be race fit made me side with him over some of the others.
No 5 year old has ever won this race, not that many have tried. Willie Mullins has an atrocious record with chasers in the UK and from 9 runners has no wins or places to show at Newbury. What’s more his horse fell last time out, is untested in big fields and has never ran, let alone won, over further than 21f. Will he stay, will he jump, will he be fit enough, will he handle the hurly burley of such a race. So many questions. And you want to take 11/2 on Djakadam? Give me a break. A mugs bet if ever I have seen one. Yes he could win, but 11/2 is ridiculously short given there are so many questions. If he were 11/1 maybe, but he isnt.
The others on my shortlist were Smad Place, Fingal Bay and The Druids Nephew. I backed the Druids Nephew last time out and his jumping was far from perfect which could catch him out here. 14 of the last 17 winners had a maximum of 1 run this season and for me there were enough doubts to leave him. He is open to improvement still but he will need to.The other two are exciting and I can see why you would want to back them. Both have class and are open to improvement over fences. They could be well handicapped and deserve their chance. Personally I would rather back a horse with a recent run who I know wont be lacking for fitness. That is what just swayed it for me. Fingal Bay could be anything over fences but this is some race in which to prove your credentials. I hope they both run crackers and you would expect them to be thereabouts. I don’t think either of these should be shorter than Rocky Creek and I hope his sharpness along with his experience in this race last year, will make the difference.
All in all a superb renewal in which I have two live chances. I would be surprised if anything outside of the top 6 in the market won this as I dont think anything else is good enough on what they have done so far over fences.
Good Luck whatever you back.