A new feature on the blog, ‘Free Tip Friday’ will identify my best value tips for the weekend’s racing action. Normally, I will be presenting this feature as a video podcast (vodcast) but, as I’m on the road to Newbury today, you will have to make with the regular written report!
And what better place to kick off this new blog feature than with tomorrow’s highly anticipated 2010 Hennessy Gold Cup Chase at Newbury. 19 runners will line up at 3.05pm for this 3m2f, £175,000 showpiece event and there is one question that everyone seems to be asking: Can Denman, one of the nation’s best loved racehorses, make it a historical hat-trick of victories in this blue riband race.
Bookmaker’s clearly believe that the Paul Nicholls trained 10-y-0 still has the ammunition to hold off the host of talented horses that will attempt to wrestle his crown from his grasp tomorrow… installing him as 4/1 favourite at this stage. Connections have reported that Denman is in top form and have been bullish about his chances – dismissing reports that the big chesnut’s powers are on the wane.
For me, although I think Denman is certain be a major player tomorrow, I believe it may be time for one of the the new breed to come through and announce their arrival at the very top tier of the chasing rankings. To that end, it is three of the youngest runners in the field that I feel have the form, profile and pedigree to take the honours in the 2010 Hennessy.
Diamond Harry (#10) is currently available at 7/1, and is likely to go off shorter than that on the back of continued public support. The Nick William’s trained 7-y-o isn’t always the most reliable jumper but he has several Grade 1 wins under his belt and clearly enjoys the Newbury course. A winner of 9 of his 13 career starts, Diamond Harry is reportedly in fine fettle and has just the kind of progressive profile that justifies hopes of a big run tomorrow. Provided he negotiates the obstacles, he is one that is certain to be in the mix at the sharp end.
One that shouldn’t experience any problems with the jumps is the consistent Burton Port (#12). Second season novices have an excellent record in this race and Nicky Henderson’s 6-y-o has all the attributes to continue that trend on Saturday. By common consent, Burton Port is neither flashy or fashionable… which perhaps explains whilst this classy gelding often gets overlooked and passes under the radar. Apparently he just goes about his business in a functional manner at the Lambourn stables but does everything that is asked of him. Has won 4 of his 5 starts over the last 12 months with the only reverse when second to the Weapon’s Amnesty in the RSA Chase at the Cheltenham Festival. Burton Port will handle the ground, is proven over the trip and at 8/1 is a live contender and excellent value.
The runner that really intrigues me is the Noel Meade trained Pandorama (#17). This exciting 7-y-o Irish raider is also an 8/1 shot tomorrow and makes his 2010 bow in the Hennessey having withdrawn from the Ladbrokes.com Chase at Down Royal 3 weeks ago. However, he will arrive at Newbury with plenty of confidence having ended 2009 by defeating the aforementioned Weapon’s Amnesty in the Grade 1 Knight Frank Novices Chase at Leopardstown in December. That win rounded off a 100% record for 2009 – indeed, Pandorama’s only defeat came in December 2008 when 2nd to Cheltenham Festival hero Mikael D’Haguenet in a Novices hurdle at Navan. The Newbury course should suit his style and there are no concerns about the ground or the trip – he is partnered by regular jockey Paul Carberry and, although he doesn’t have the chasing experience of either Diamond Harry or Burton’s Port, Pandorama looks set to go very close.
So, whilst my heart says Denman for the 2010 Hennessy Gold Cup, my head has been turned by these three new protagonists. I expect all of them to have a big say in the race. Burton Port would appear to be the most solid each way option whilst both Diamond Harry and Pandorama are more likely to give a ‘glory or bust’ performance. For me, providing he’s travelled well, the most appealing of the trio (by a nose) is Pandorama… and this is my inaugural Free Tip Friday selection:
27/11/2010 15:05 Newbury #17 Pandorama EACH WAY @8/1
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