The Hennessy Gold Cup (3.10pm, Newbury, Saturday) betting is headed by Nicky Henderson’s Bobs Worth (4/1), who is favourite on the strength of his win in the 3m RSA Chase at the Cheltenham Festival last March.
On that occasion, he beat Mouse Morris’ First Lieutenant (12/1) by 2½ lengths and reopposes on just 1lb worse terms. However, Bobs Worth has never won over this 3m 2½f trip or on soft going, which threatened to make him a non-runner for this earlier in the week. In addition, he has been off the course for 262 days. That’s enough to suggest that he’s worth taking on at a relatively short price off a handicap mark of 160.
Alan King’s lightly raced nine-year-old Hold On Julio (15/2) made a promising start to the season when third, beaten just 1¼ lengths in a handicap chase over 3m½f at Cheltenham six weeks ago. However, he was well beaten on his one venture into Grade 3 company at the Cheltenham Festival and has a career-high mark of 148 to contend with.
Paul Nicholls’ eleven-year-old Tidal Bay (8/1) cut little ice on his first four starts for his new yard following his transfer from disgraced former-trainer Howard Johnson last year. But Tidal Bay proved a revelation in the 3m5½f Bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown in April, readily going clear to win easily by 15 lengths. He kept up the good work by winning the John Smith’s Hurdle at Wetherby on his reappearance four weeks ago, but the veteran campaigner is back to a career-high mark of 166 over fences. Six out of the last ten Hennessy Gold Cup winners carried 11 stone or more, but it may be asking too much for Tidal Bay to lump 11st 12lb to victory.
Rebecca Curtis’ Teaforthree (16/1) has stamina in abundance as he demonstrated when winning the National Hunt Chase over 4m at the Cheltenham Festival in March. It is probably safe to assume that he was in need of his comeback run at Cheltenham two weeks ago and he promises to be a potent threat with Tony McCoy taking over from 10lb claimer Patrick Corbett. However, even with the assistance of the champion jockey, the balance of his form suggests that he may come up a little short at this level.
Of those at longer prices, it would be folly to dismiss Nicky Henderson’s apparent second string Roberto Goldback (25/1). The ten-year-old, who was trained in Ireland by Dessie Hughes until October, appeared rejuvenated by the change of scenery when comfortably winning the United House Gold Cup over 3m at Ascot four weeks ago. That performance earned him a 12lb rise in the handicap, which effectively means that he is 12lb worse off with Duke Of Lucca (25/1) for the nine lengths he beat him at Ascot, but he can not be ruled out.
Gary Moore’s nine-year-old Fruity O’Rooney (25/1) was beaten 35 lengths on his last start over fences in the Coral Scottish Grand National last April. He was only 20th of 23 on his seasonal reappearance, over hurdles, at Cheltenham six weeks ago. However, it’s worth remembering that he was only beaten a length in the JLT Specialty Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival and, despite still being 5lb higher in the weights, conditions should suit him perfectly.
In a fiercely competitive event that pays at least four places for a place, our advice is to back Fruity O’Rooney each-way at 25/1 with Bet365, Ladbrokes or BetVictor. He ran better than his finishing position suggests on his seasonal reappearance atCheltenham and that run should have put him spot on for this. His regular jockey, Jamie Moore, said earlier in the week that he expects the nine-year-old to “give a good, bold show from the front.”