Having taken three of the last seven runnings of the Hennessy Gold Cup, it is no surprise to see the Paul Nicholls controlling the weights for the upcoming version of the event to be run on 27th November.
The fact that Kauto Star has pulled out has had no bearing on Nicholls controlling the market, with Denman set to heads the weights. This means there will be just nine others in the handicap proper and Nicholls trains four of those.
It would seem sensible for those looking to make a Newbury Hennessy bet to take a close look at all of the champion trainer’s runners then and Denman, who is bidding to become the first triple winner of the race despite being the probable top weight, has a solid chance once again. Remember he won this race last year when the general consensus was that he faced a very tough task and this year’s renewal does not look any tougher.
The usual profile of a Hennessy winner is that of a well-handicapped second season novice, one who has potential but experience in equal measure. There is no shortage of such types for fans of betting on horse races to consider in the race this year with Weird Al, Diamond Harry, Burton Port and Pandorama all fitting the bill.
The last named is trained in Ireland and while the Emerald Isle have had a good record in the majority of big races this side of the Irish Sea, the Hennessey would not feature on that list. Their last success that counted came in 1980 (Bright Highway), although they did win the race in 2002 through the subsequently disqualified Be My Royal.
However, Pandorama has plenty of redeeming features, having been beaten only once and is a Grade 1 winner over both hurdles and fences. He may have the attributes to break the Irish Hennessy hoodoo.
Burton Port and Weird Al are two novices from that list with potential bidding to keep the prize at home and, while they are different types, both have the necessary attributes to go close in the event. Burton Port is a tough solid stayer similar to the stable’s 2005 winner Trabolgan and Weird Al has already blown away the cobwebs this season upon his return from an injury which curtailed a very promising start to his chasing career last year.
The next few weeks will be fascinating as we build towards the 2010 running of the Hennessy Gold Cup, one of the landmark handicaps of the year.