Local Show is amongst the 28 confirmations for Saturday's Hennessy Gold Cup
Last year’s winner Smad Place (Alan King, 11st 12lb) tops 28 confirmations for the £200,000 Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury on day two of the bet365 Festival, Saturday, November 26. The famous handicap chase is being run for the 60th time this year.
Smad Place was the emphatic 12-length winner in 2015 and is out to become only the fourth dual winner of the prestigious three and a quarter mile contest, following Mandarin, Arkle and Denman. The nine-year-old, a 10/1 chance with bet365, will race from an 11lb higher mark this time around.
Native River (Colin Tizzard, 11st 1lb) is the 11/2 market leader with bet365 after a promising reappearance over hurdles at Wetherby. The six-year-old was a G2 scorer over fences at the 2015 bet365 Festival and ended the campaign with a comfortable front-running success in the G1 Mildmay Novices’ Chase at Aintree.
Un Temps Pour Tout (David Pipe, 11st 4lb, 8/1 with bet365) was an impressive winner over fences at the Cheltenham Festival and enjoyed a good prep when winning a conditions hurdle at Aintree on November 5.
Nicky Henderson has three contenders going forward as he bids for a fourth Hennessy Gold Cup since 2005. The trio features Vyta Du Roc (10st 3lb), winner of the G2 Reynoldstown Novices’ Chase at Ascot in February, and 2013 Hennessy Gold Cup victor Triolo D’Alene (10st 10lb).
Henderson’s former assistant Ben Pauling is set to be doubly represented by Drumacoo (10st 3lb, 33/1) and Local Show (10st 6lb, 50/1, pictured).
Drumacoo scored by 38 lengths on his first start for Pauling in a three-mile novices’ chase at Huntingdon in January but did not run up to expectations when fourth behind Vyta Du Roc at Ascot the following month and has not raced since.
Local Show was another new recruit to Pauling’s stable last season and won his first two starts over fences, including a novices’ handicap chase at Newbury, before finishing seventh in the Listed National Hunt Chase over four miles at the Cheltenham Festival.
Pauling said: “Drumacoo is in good fettle. We are loving the fact it is raining and it will need to continue to do so as soft ground is important.
“He was very impressive first time out for us at Huntingdon and then at Ascot he was fourth in the Reynoldstown but wasn’t right when he came home, so there is every chance he wasn’t right during the race.
“He is the unknown quantity and I think when he is 100 per cent, he is good. We haven’t got many horses in the yard with the ability he has, but he is very fragile.
“Local Show is likely to run as well. He is probably best going right-handed but he has been schooling very well. I always think the Hennessy is won by a very progressive horse and, considering he improved the best part of two stone last season, I just wonder how much more improvement is there, but obviously we are hoping he runs a good race.”
Champion trainer Paul Nicholls has left in Saphir Du Rheu (10st 13lb, 9/1), who was fifth when sent off favourite last year, Virak (11st 1lb, 33/1) and Scottish Grand National hero Vicente (10st 11lb, 20/1).
Other high-profile contenders include RSA Chase winner Blaklion (Nigel Twiston-Davies, 11st, 11/1), a promising fourth in the G2 Charlie Hall Chase on his return, and Henri Parry Morgan (Peter Bowen, 10st 10lb, 12/1).
Gordon Elliott and Noel Meade account for the three Irish-trained confirmations. Elliott could run Outlander (10st 13lb, 14/1) and Empire Of Dirt (10st 11lb, 18/1), while Meade has left in Wounded Warrior (10st 13lb, 40/1).
Hennessy Gold Cup, bet365 bet: 11/2 Native River; 8/1 Un Temps Pour Tout, Vyta Du Roc; 9/1 Saphir Du Rheu; 10/1 Smad Place; 11/1 Blaklion; 12/1 Henri Parry Morgan; 14/1 Outlander; 18/1 Empire Of Dirt, Theatre Guide, Houblon Des Obeaux; 20/1 Bishops Road, Vicente; 25/1 Holywell; 33/1 Triolo D’Alene, Coologue, Hadrians Approach, Virak, Drumacoo; 40/1 Wounded Warrior, Aubusson, Caroles Destrier, Another Hero; 50/1 Local Show, Otago Trail, Regal Encore, Upswing; 66/1 Double Ross
Also taking place on Saturday are £45,000 Listed bet365 Intermediate Hurdle (2.40pm, 11 runners) and the £40,000 Sir Peter O’Sullevan Memorial Handicap Chase (1.30pm, 28 runners). The £35,000 G2 bet365 Novices’ Chase (12.55pm) has reopened for entries until 11.00am tomorrow.
The bet365 Festival gets underway on Friday, November 25, with a seven-race programme running from 12.30pm to 3.50pm.
The highlights on Friday include the £50,000 G2 bet365 Long Distance Hurdle (2.10pm, 17 entries) over three miles. Among the entries are six-time G1 scorer Reve De Sivola (Nick Williams) and Ballyoptic (Nigel Twiston-Davies), successful on four of his five starts over hurdles including in a G1 at Aintree in April. Also engaged are dual G1 Auteuil scorer Ptit Zig (Paul Nicholls) and Unowhatimeanharry (Harry Fry), successful on his last five outings including when last seen out in the G1 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March.
bet365 Long Distance Hurdle, bet365 bet: 9/4 Ballyoptic; 5/1 Ptit Zig, Reve De Sivola, Unowhatimeanharry; 8/1 Menorah; 10/1 Lil Rockerfeller; 12/1 The Romford Pele, Ubak, El Bandit; 14/1 Snow Falcon; 16/1 Gevrey Chambertin
Also taking place on Friday are the £50,000 bet365 Open Handicap Chase (2.45pm, 19 entries) and the G2 Fuller’s London Pride Novices’ Chase (1.35pm, 12 entries).