King of Stats: Rocky Creek set to turn the tables in the Hennessy

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Backed in from 10/1 into 4/1 in the space of a week or two, you would think Djakadam was a dead cert to win the Hennessy Gold Cup, but as we look at the trends of the big race, we discover things won’t be that straightforward.

Willie Mullins’ charge is clearly well thought of, demonstrated not only by the market move, but by the entries he holds for the King George on Boxing Day and the Gold Cup at Cheltenham.

He would be the first five-year-old to claim the race, and has an abundance of other stats to overcome.

First of all, it has been apparent in recent years, that it takes a class horse to land the Grade 3 prize, with the last nine all being rated 145 and higher; Djakadam is just shy of that cut off at 142.

Even more concerning is that Rich Ricci’s horse has yet to taste victory over anything further than 2m5f.

So with the last 21 winners picking up the race having already winning over at least 3m, he does have some major question marks over him and is well and truly swerved at a very short price.

Returning to the point about looking for a class horse, you have to go back to State of Play in 2006 for the last winner that hadn’t previously won a graded chase.

This puts real dampeners on the hopes of some very well fancied runners including Fingal Bay (8/1), Smad Place (7/1) (although he was a runner up in the RSA), Many Clouds (7/1) and The Druids Nephew (10/1).

But one horse who does meet the aforementioned trends and looks likely to run a big race (again) is ROCKY CREEK (9/1).

Paul Nicholls’ charge only found Triolo D’Alene (20/1) too good 12 months ago, and is fancied to turn the tables this time around.

Whilst last year’s winner has done nothing since, the eight-year-old has run some decent races in defeat, including when surprising his trainer when finishing ahead of a couple of smart types at Down Royal.

The soft ground will only play to his strengths, after finding the ground a bit lively last year, and is an out-and-out stayer.

One more stat to boost his chances is that 12 of the last 15 victors in the Hennessy have raced up with the pace, and with the selection likely to chase the leaders, will be poised to strike.

Nicholls’ horses have been coming on for their runs in some style this season, and we fancy more improvement in this one as he looks to get revenge at the Berkshire track.

All odds and markets correct as of the date of publishing

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Ben Stones

Ladbrokes News’ equine expert, Ben likes nothing more than studying the form to pick out a winner or two for our readers. A Journalism and Media Studies graduate from the University of Winchester, Ben has previously written for a number of football and racing blogs and websites, as well as contributing to the sports pages of his home-town newspaper.