Hennessy day rolls around again. Such a shame it has a new sponsor. Those of my generation have seen some very fine horses win this race and in our hearts it will always be The Hennessy
A tricky race in which the selection is Old Guard. He has won at the track and this step up in trip should suit. He’s in very good heart and finished 3rd in the Greatwood last time. He’s classy and has plenty of weight but Bryony Frost is great value for her 5lb claim (she could well have a good day tomorrow).
Fav Air Horse One has an obvious chance. The form of his last race is working out superbly and there is more to come from him. But he just might be better going right handed; insufficient evidence so far to draw conclusions on that as he has run some good races going anti clockwise. But in 5 attempts he has failed to win that way whereas he’s 4 from 9 going right.
Old Guard is around 11/2
Charli Parcs could be the fly in the ointment here. He was held in high regard last season by trainer Henderson who rarely mistakes his geese for swans. Charli got off to a decent start but his season then got progressively worse. Still, Henderson says CP worked well 10 days ago at this track alongside the champion hurdler so we must wait and see what he produces in this.
Still, the vote goes to the promising High Bridge who seems to have most going for him here. He’s 2 from 2 at Newbury, 2 from 4 in this ground and the race he finished 3rd in last time has thrown up 4 wins since, among them the Greatwood. First and second won as did Dolos and Verdana Blue who finished behind High Bridge that day. And his trainer Ben Pauling is on a strike rate of 37% (last 14 days) far and away the best SR of trainers in this race.
High Bridge is around 5/2
I followed Singlefarmpayment all last season. He was an improver – just the type I like and would have given me a big payday at Cheltenham but for being worried out of it by a short head in the Ultima Handicap Chase. Aside from the disappointment, his defeat raised a slight concern that he might just be a wee bit soft and therefore vulnerable in tight finishes. I’ve had a small bet on him a month back and was tempted to again because I’m convinced he’ll go very well with such a low weight. But two things stop me from backing him twice: that niggly suspicion he could be bullied out of it, and a horse called Whisper. Also, despite nine attempts on the forecast going, good to soft, Singlefarmpayment has never won on it. Five places suggests he handles it fine but it just adds to my concerns.
If the BHA race committee sat down specifically to design a race for Whisper it would be this one. 26 furlongs almost certainly at a hot pace which will favour stayers and that’s what he is above all else – a stayer with a touch of class. I’m very tempted to have a decent bet on Whisper tomorrow, and by that I mean what would be a large bet for me. But his slightly dotty trainer has compromised the horse’s chance by delaying his prep until after November 5th. Winners beyond that date get a 4lb penalty and that takes Whisper’s weight up to 11st 8lbs. He’s not the biggest horse in the world although he’s strongly made.
Fair play to Henderson for owning up to his blunder, but he might have serious reason to rue it tomorrow, as might I. While I am confident Whisper will relish the trip, I was quite surprised to note that 17 of the 21 contenders here have never won at this distance or beyond. I’d say that’s pretty unusual in such a competitive staying handicap.
Of the others, Present Man would be more interesting to me if this were a right-handed course. 14 of his 16 runs have been clockwise and on his last run left handed he jumped right (won a 4 horse race). His only previous appearance at Newbury was in a NH flat race where he was stone last. But he’s improving and his young claimer Bryony Frost is a star, and one who’d make history as the first woman to ride the winner of this race.
I’ll be having two small savers: one on Royal Vacation who’ll enjoy the ground, the busy field, and the stamina test, and on Cogry who, like many of his trainer’s type, is really tough. Cogry’s in form having beaten Singlefarmpayment last time at Cheltenham.
But Whisper ought to win this. Let’s hope that 4lb penalty doesn’t weigh him down in the final strides.
Whisper is around 8/1, Royal Vacation 25/1 and Cogry 14/1
A trappy race where I will go for Just Cameron who has won twice in this ground. None of the first three in the current market have won on good to soft. Just Cameron’s yard is in pretty good form too as his Brian Hughes who rides him and at the price I’m more than happy to pick him. He has some good speed figures too.
Just Cameron is around 10/1
In the other TV races (at Newcastle), Buveur D’Air looks to have a simple task at 2/9 in the 2.10, the Fighting Fifth.
This is another tricky race. I’ve considered a few of them and come up with a sporting bet in the 11-y-o Dedigout. He’s an ex-Irish horse who is used to keeping much better company than this, well, in his younger days, at least. He has beaten the likes of Thousand Stars, Monklands and Zaidpour. His new owner paid £16,000 for him in September and moved him from Gordon Elliott to Micky Hammond who’s in particularly good form. At 33/1 I suggest a small each way bet.
Enjoy the racing. Don’t bet more than you can afford to lose with a smile.
All the best.
A frustrating day: winners at 11/2 and 5/2 then the one that got away exactly as I feared he would in Whisper; that 4lb penalty almost certainly costing him the race.