The key to finding the winner of any big handicap is picking a runner capable of defying their current mark, and the Hennessy Gold Cup is no different.
But with such a top-class field usually lining up for the contest at Newbury, finding an unexposed type can be tricky.
Nevetherless, Ladbrokes News’ Ben Stones has glanced his eye over the current entries to pick a trio that could yet have more to come should they line up in the Grade 3 contest.
Yes, he may not be a huge price, but he still looks nice value at this stage.
The classy hurdler won the Pertemps Final at Cheltenham off a mark of 148. He currently sits on a chase rating of 153, a mark that looks well within his reach.
His effort over the small obstacles was impressive considering he was carrying top weight, something he will be relieved of at Newbury.
More impressive was the pair that was in behind him at the Festival.
Runner-up Southfield Theatre has looked imperious over fences, winning a Grade 2 by 11l recently, while back in third was Pineau De Re, subsequent winner of the Grand National.
With the eight-year-old clearly loving a test and this contest his target for a long time, he could be something very good.
You would have to take the fitness of Emma Lavelle’s charge on trust should he line up, considering he hasn’t raced for nearly two years.
Nevertheless, on previous form, he is entitled to run a big race at Newbury.
His most recent racecourse appearance saw him finish ahead of Houblon Des Obeaux; with that horse finishing 7th in this race last year off a mark of 154.
So even with the weight allowance he enjoyed over Venetia Williams’ horse in 2012, a handicap mark of 140 may be very lenient for a gelding that has only raced three times over fences and could have plenty of improvement in him, if retaining his previous appetite.
While clearly not Willie Mullins’ best hope in the race (that honour falls to Djakadam), the son of Milan may represent better value at over twice the price.
With only one race over 3m previously, he is still very much unexposed at these staying trips, and with that run a fifth place finish in a big field handicap hurdle, he clearly stays the distance well enough to be competitive.
The seven-year-old finished ahead of Grade 2 winner Felix Yonger on his last start on Boxing Day 11 months ago, staying on well at the finish.
With some good form ahead of useful types Rathlin and Foildubh, he could yet eke out more improvement over the larger obstacles.
All odds and markets correct as of the date of publishing
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