The Hennessy (3.00 Newbury) is a grade-3 handicap chase that provides horses with a gruelling test of 21 fences spread out over 3 miles 2½ furlongs, especially when the ground is riding soft.
Despite that, those higher in the weights have fared much the better over the last decade with 8 of the 10 winners carrying 11-1 or more – suggesting a fair amount of class is required to win most renewals. 7-year-olds have won 6 of the last 10, with two 6-year-olds, one 8-year-old, and one 9-year-old also winning.
Trainer Nicky Henderson leads the way with 3 winners in the last 10 years, whilst Paul Nicholls has had two winners, as has jockey Barry Geraghty.
17 runners are set to line-up this year – so here’s our analysis.
Saphir Du Rheu 9/2
Won his 3 completed chases, but has a big rating and weight to overcome. Also not won any of his 3 course starts, including a novice chase here at this meeting last year.
The Druids Nephew 16/1
Only 7th in last year’s race off 141, but now rated 156.
The Giant Bolster 40/1
Classy but yet to win any of his 5 course starts, and prefers Cheltenham.
Houblon Des Obeaux 16/1
1lb lower than when 2nd to Many Clouds last year, and 6lb lower than when chasing home Coneygree over 3-miles here in February. A return to that form gives him an obvious chance.
Smad Place 7/1
1lb worse of with Houblon Des Obeaux despite finishing well behind him last year. Has had the benefit of a prep race this time around.
Bobs Worth 7/1
If back to anything like the horse that won this off a 7lb higher mark in 2012 and then won the 2013 Gold Cup – he’ll win. But he is 10, and soft ground has been used as an excuse before.
Fox Appeal 50/1
The Emma Lavelle runners have been out-of-form this week, and this one prefers to go right-handed.
The Young Master 11/1
Every chance on his runs in novice chases last year, and this stamina test could really suit.
Splash Of Ginge 50/1
Won the Betfair Hurdle here, and interesting is he stays, though that’s not guaranteed.
If In Doubt 8/1
Been the big market mover this week after Barry Geraghty was confirmed to ride, but not obviously well-handicapped against classy opposition.
Flight Lieutenant 20/1
An obvious chance on his second to Bobs Worth in 2012 (6lb better off). Ran his best race for a while last-time too, but is 10.
Fingal Bay 14/1
Talented performer, but not the toughest, and you usually need toughness in abundance.
Admirable staying 10-year-old, but this is probably too classy for him.
Al Co 100/1
Handicapper given him a chance off just a 3lb higher mark than when winning the 2014 Scottish Grand National, however would need a personal best.
Ned Stark 12/1
Highly thought of by his trainer, but would have to leave his last two runs well behind.
Has to be respected from the Willie Mullins stable, but this much classier than the races he’s been running in and not winning.
Theatre Guide 20/1
3rd in the 2013 renewal and is 6lb lower this time around. Place claims for inform stable.
Bobs Worth could win this by half-a-furlong if returning to his best but, at the prices, Houblon Des Obeaux is a sporting each-way selection to go one better than when twice runner-up at the course last year, behind the subsequent Gold Cup and Grand National winners.
Houblon Des Obeaux each-way @ 16/1 (Betfair Sportsbook)