Mullins In Total Ladbrokes Win
The Hennesey Gold Cup, the second best handicap chase of the National Hunt racing calendar after the Grand National. When the owners of the Hennesey brand gave up their long association with the great race last year, it was Ladbrokes who took over its sponsorship renaming the race the Ladbrokes Trophy in the process.
Now it will take a long time for people to stop calling the race the ‘Hennessey’, as its still run at Newbury, over the same distance and rarely produces a bad race. This years renewal was no exception as the ante-post gamble of the race Total Recall trained by Willie Mullins just got the better of the Nicky Henderson trained Whisper in a tight finish.
The front two pulled over 9 lengths clear of the third home which gives the form a solid look. The runner-up comes out of the race with great credit, as he was trying to give the clearly well-handicapped winner 14lb. Whisper defied my doubts that his jumping wouldn't be good enough in this company and looks worthy of a go at the Gold Cup on this performance although age maybe against him. He is now a best-priced 25/1 with Coral for Cheltenham on the back of this run. It may have a new name but it was the same pulsating race as ever!
There were no real hard luck stories. The 2015 Gold Cup winner Coneygree led to the 15th but once headed he soon weakened out of it and was pulled up. It looks like they will be giving the 10-year-old some sort of wind operation and maybe it’s too early to rule him out of winning again. You would expect connections to consider a tilt at the Grand National, a race that would be ideal for him. Backers of Singlefarmpayment may well think that he was still in with a chance when falling three out but he was under pressure at the time and I think he would have finished at best third if he had stood up.
The Newbury Ladbrokes Winter Carnival is a much better meeting now that it’s back to the two days. The three-day fixture was diluted in terms of race quality but a two day one means you now have two strong cards. As with a lot of these racing festivals, the ‘less is better’ maxim is correct.
In other news, it’s great to see the Racing Post have reintroduced race replays onto their website. Granted the replays are only available to Ultimate subscribers and not Essential members but if you’re serious about your form study you will be delighted like I am that previous race replays are once again available in the one place.
One For The Tracker:
This week’s tracker horse is the Oliver Sherwood Icing On the Cake. The trainer had indicated before the race that his horses had needed their first runs and that the 7-year-old was no exception. Held up, he made some good headway to three out and looked like he might play a part in the finish until his lack of race fitness told and he eventually finished a credible 5th. He has only had eight starts under rules winning a novice handicap chase at Newbury a track where he has also posted his best two performances according to Racing Post rating (RPR’s). He should come on well with this race under his belt and can win races off a mark of 128.
After the last few days of top-class racing action over the last three days both sides of the Irish Sea, its back to more mundane Monday fare. There are jump meetings at Plumpton and Fakenham and there’s also all-weather flat action on the fibresand at Southwell. At least we can look forward to the weekend with Tingle Creek Day at Sandown and the latest running of the Becher Chase over the National fences at Aintree.
1:40 – It takes a brave punter to oppose an Anthony Honeyball runner at present as he is 6 winners from 15 runners 40% +13.18 and operates at a 30% win strike rate around Plumpton. He runs Act Now in this 3m 1f handicap hurdle and the mare is 2 wins from 2 runs at the course.
Another runner in the field who has a good record here is Tambura. The 7-year-old has had 3 wins from 6 runs at the course with her last two visits yielding form figures of 11. She has won this corresponding race in the last two years. The mare ran well for a long way on her seasonal reappearance when 4th at Chepstow 12 days ago. She should strip fitter today as all her five career wins have been when racing within 60 days off her last start, including 3 wins from 9 runs 7 placed when racing within 16 days of her last run.
She races off a 3lb lower mark than for her win in this race last year and she is handicapped to go close if at her best. Must have solid each-way claims, as long as the ground doesn’t dry out further, and the 8 declared runners stand their ground.
1:40 – Tambura – 7/1
All that’s left now is to wish you a profitable week’s punting.
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