The Hennessy Gold Cup is the big betting race of the weekend and I have always thought this was the race for Aiteen Thirtythree (3.10) since his win in a Novice Chase at the corresponding meeting last year. He is not thrown in by any means and he represents leading connections so we are not going to get a big price but 7/1 looks fair in another cracking renewal of this famous race.
Trainer Paul Nicholls spoke at a dinner earlier in the week and was also very sweet on the chances of the lightly-raced Michel Le Bon who returns from a lengthy absence. Nicholls has never been afraid of talking his horses up but whatever the result today I suggest we stay on the right side of this in the short term.
Scottish National winner Beshabar is another to consider in a cracking renewal of this most prestigious and valuable handicap.
The Newbury finale is a terrific contest but I can’t desert Coup Royale (3.45) on his seasonal debut having produced an extraordinary performance to win at Kempton when last seen in February.
It wasn’t a particularly good race that the Tizzard horse landed at Kempton, but he won in the manner of a most progressive horse and if his jumping holds up he can defy the rise. Aidan Coleman takes the ride and it could be a good day for the jockey who has also picked up the ride on Beshabar in the Hennessy.
Prospect Wells (12.55) lost nothing in defeat behind Supreme Novices’ contender Steps To Freedom at Cheltenham last time and he meets nothing of that class this afternoon.
Another Nicholls’ hotpot who cannot be opposed is Empire Levant (2.05) who won by half the track on Thursday and can follow up with exciting conditional Harry Derham taking off a valuable 7lbs. If he misses the race Dream Function also looks well handicapped for Philip Hobbs lurking at the foot of the handicap. Her Exeter win has been franked by the subsequent win of the third horse home and she too looks very well treated.
I know it was too soon to be too dogmatic about how Coolbeg (12.45) would have fared at Wincanton last time but he has the stamp of a chaser and jumped the fence well before being brought down at the 4th on his chase debut when a good run was expected. The money was down but hopefully was only lent although today’s Bangor race looks a stronger heat.
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