In this early part of the National Hunt season the Hennessy Gold Cup stands out as one of the premier chases over fences, and this year’s race looks wide open given the absence of hot favourite Coneygree.
The replacement at the head of the market, Saphir Du Rheu, hasn’t charmed that many punters and at 3/1 represents stingy value in a decent quality field.
Don’t forget that each way punts pay for a top four finish, so finding value in a stacked field shouldn’t be too hard to do.
So what do we know about Hennessy Gold Cups of past? Well, the winners – who range from the legendary Denman to the silky Triolo D’alene – have all had a few attributes in common. They have won over three miles, have enjoyed a number of outings over fences, won at class two or higher and mostly have won a graded or listed chase at some point in their career.
With this knowledge in mind, we really like the look of If In Doubt; with the 2012 winner of this race Bob’s Worth also worth a look.
If In Doubt (9/1)
This one is a bit of an eyebrow-raiser given that he is a clumsy jumper, but taking that on board it is easy to retort that any horse that is capable of winning the SkyBet Chase with a troublesome technique clearly has bags of potential.
His next appearance came in the prestigious RSA Chase, and while the seven-year-old wasn’t expected to pull up any trees a creditable fifth place finish – with plenty more in the tank chasing Don Poli – confirmed that If In Doubt had something special.
Owned by JP McManus and likely to be piloted by the fantastic Barry Geraghty, If In Doubt has all the ingredients to go very close indeed here. He won’t be fazed by the conditions and runs well on any ground, and trainers don’t come much better than Phillip Hobbs, so if that technique over fences has been straightened out over the summer then 9/1 looks a long price.
Bob’s Worth (6/1)
The 2012 winner will put some punters off given his short price, but the news that Nico De Boinville will squire Bob’s Worth is notable.
“Nico will ride Bobs Worth,” trainer Nicky Henderson told the Racing Post. “Nico has ridden him before and won on him at Aintree.
“We’ve been very happy with Bobs Worth. Everything has gone well and his schooling has been brilliant. He’s in good form, but wouldn’t want a lot of rain.”
The good news for Henderson and Bob’s Worth is that the weather looks set fair for Newbury, with perhaps a few spots of the wet stuff on Saturday. So there is little to deter punters given that the 10-year-old, who has actually shed weight since his triumph in the renewal of three years ago, also won on his seasonal debut over hurdles a matter of weeks ago.