There’s a great double-header for jumps fans this weekend with The Hennessey from Newbury and the Fighting Fifth Hurdle from Newcastle – and we’ve got horse racing tips for you for both the big races.
Hennessey Gold Cup, Newbury, Saturday 3.00
Between 1991 and 2003 only two horses managed to carry over 11-0 to victory in this race, however this statistic has very much changed over the last decade with 7 of the 10 winners having carried 11-1 or more. It’s hard to be pragmatic about which end of the weight scale has the advantage – and it’s best to look for a horse that looks potentially well-handicapped.
Age is also a significant factor with three 6-year-olds and five 7-year-olds winning in the last ten years. The other two where dual winner Denman who regained his title off a mark of 174 as a 9-year-old, whilst Carruthers had dropped down the handicap to a winnable mark when winning as an 8-year-old.
Nicky Henderson (three) has trained the most winners this decade whilst the Pipe stable has won two. Barry Geraghty is the only dual winning jockey, winning the last two for Nicky Henderson.
Djakadam has headed the ante-post market since the betting opened but, despite being backed from 10/1 down to around 4/1, he’ll have to achieve lots of firsts if he is to claim victory on Saturday. His trainer Willie Mullins has yet to win the race, whilst the horse himself has yet to win over 3-miles let alone 3 miles-2 furlongs. He’ll also be the first 5-year-old to win in the race’s 58-year history, and that’s enough negatives for me to leave him alone.
Much more interesting is Smad Place who was very nearly top-class over hurdles (twice placed in the World Hurdle), nearly won last year’s RSA Chase, and has won on both his runs at Newbury (one hurdles, one chase). He’s also a 7-year-old who races off a mark 6lb lower than his highest hurdle rating. His trainer Alan King looks sure to have prepared him well for this and he warrants each-way support.
I’m also backing Unioniste at a big each-way price. The 6-year-old has an excellent record when the ground is soft or heavy 1/1/1/3, including a victory in a big Cheltenham Handicap, and I fancy him to continue to improve with age as his brother, Neptune Colonges, did. Neptune Collonges won several big 3-mile races including an Irish Hennessey – and the Grand National.
2 points each-way Smad Place @ 8/1
1 point each-way Unioniste @ 28/1
Fighting Fifth Hurdle, Newcastle, Saturday 2.05
Some seriously high-class hurdlers have won this race in the last decade including Harchibald, Punjabi, Go Native, Peddlers Cross, Overturn, Countrywide Flame and My Tent Or Yours, yet this year’s renewal has failed to attract horses currently of that quality.
Irving heads the ante-post market despite falling last-time, but it’s the fact he’s done all his winning right-handed that puts me off him here. Meanwhile, ex-flat-racer Purple Bay, who benefitted from Irving’s fall last-time, may not appreciate the stiff Newcastle track.
Last year’s winning trainer Nicky Henderson saddles Sign Of Victory with last year’s winner My Tent Or Yours sidelined. He was very impressive when winning an Ascot handicap last-time but this is a big step-up.
The one for me is Aurore D’estruval for the John Quinn stable that took this in 2012 and had the runner-up last year in Cockney Sparrow. The mare gets 7lb from her rivals and looked to have improved massively from last season when winning easily at Wetherby. The small field should also suit and she looks worthy each-way material at 6/1.
Aurore D’estruval 1 point each-way @ 4/1