Alan King & Oliver Sherwood bullish about Hennessy Gold Cup hopes

Newbury hosted a media launch event this morning ahead of the bet365 Hennessy Festival which runs from Thursday 27 – Saturday 29 November.

A total of 35 horses remain in the Hennessy Gold Cup with First Lieutenant the most notable defection after the final scratching stage today.

Smad Place and Midnight Prayer working together
Smad Place and Midnight Prayer working together

Oliver Sherwood, trainer of Many Clouds (7/1 favourite with bet365), was in attendance to talk about his Hennessy Gold Cup hope Many Clouds. Alan King worked two of his likely Hennessy contenders, Smad Place (10/1) and Midnight Prayer (20/1), on the course.

Jonjo O’Neill’s bet365 Long Distance Hurdle contender More Of That was next to exercise on the track.

Oliver Sherwood on his Hennessy Gold Cup runner Many Clouds

“I’m very happy with him, he worked this morning at home. On his reappearance [at Carlisle] I knew, or thought, that Holywell wouldn’t be fully primed. I thought Eduard would be the one to beat and I’d finish second, so I was delighted when he won.

“I was worried the handicapper would murder us but he put us up 7lb. I’m satisfied with that – he couldn’t clobber the horse for winning one of those conditions races in heavy ground.

“I can’t see the [Hennessy Gold Cup] trip being a problem. There’s plenty of stamina in his pedigree. Behind O’Faolains Boy in the Reynoldstown last season we were staying on and I can’t see it being a problem.

“In terms of his jumping, he’ll have to be spot on in such a big competitive handicap. He could make a mistake, but it’s out of my hands. It’s Leighton’s [Aspell, jockey] job. He’s had plenty of schooling.

“I was very pleased with his jumping at Carlisle, so fingers crossed. The Hennessy has been in the back of my mind since the middle of last season – he has the talent to win a handicap off 151.”

Alan King on his likely Hennessy Gold Cup pair of Smad Place and Midnight Prayer after they worked on the course this morning

“I’m very happy with both horses. It’s good to get them out and have a change of scenery – they haven’t seen a racecourse since Cheltenham in March. You could see Midnight Prayer definitely had the adrenaline coming out of his box.

“It wasn’t serious work, but they both enjoyed it. It gets the nerves and the adrenaline up, they can experience the atmosphere of a racecourse when they come off the back of the horse box. They just cantered quickly down the back, breezed along – neither had a hard blow, they just did enough.

“I always thought Midnight Prayer was a decent staying chaser, one or two people thought he was lucky to win at Cheltenham, but that’s probably not fair.

“I’m not worried about coming back just for the Hennessy, there are not many options for him.

“Off a mark of 155, he [Smad Place] should go well. Wayne [Hutchinson] will probably ride. He did everything at the Cheltenham Festival, bar win. I thought he would win coming to the last.

“But he’s strengthened up now. He was always quite narrow, but he looks stronger and is working better. There’s more improvement to come. Hopefully, he might be a Gold Cup horse and if he is to be he should run a massive race off this mark.”

Richie McLernon, representing trainer Jonjo O’Neill, on bet365 Long Distance Hurdle entry More of That

“We went steady, as it was wet ground, but I was happy enough. He was always going to take time to grow into himself. Obviously last year he was phenomenal, he proved how good he was. He went undefeated, beat Annie Power, who’s a brilliant mare. He’s just very good.

“I’m sure Mr O’Neill [trainer] will have him ready. He’s tough, fit and well.”

Richard Osgood, clerk of the course, said the chase course was back to soft after a wet week, but the forecast is mainly dry this week.

Hennessy Gold Cup Entries 

Horse

Age

Owner Trainer
Harry Topper (GB)

7

Mr A. N. Solomons Kim Bailey
Don Cossack (GER)

7

Gigginstown House Stud Gordon Elliott
Houblon des Obeaux (FR)

7

Mrs Julian Blackwell Venetia Williams
Triolo d’Alene (FR)

7

Mr & Mrs Sandy Orr Nicky Henderson
Rocky Creek (IRE)

8

The Johnson & Stewart Families Paul Nicholls
Ballynagour (IRE)

8

Mr Allan Stennett David Pipe
Black Thunder (FR)

7

Donlon, MacDonald, Fulton & Webb Paul Nicholls
Smad Place (FR)

7

Mrs Peter Andrews Alan King
Medermit (FR)

10

The Dunkley & Reilly Partnership Alan King
Fingal Bay (IRE)

8

Mrs R. J. Skan Philip Hobbs
Hadrian’s Approach (IRE)

7

Mr & Mrs R. Kelvin-Hughes Nicky Henderson
Vino Griego (FR)

9

Mr C. E. Stedman Gary Moore
Many Clouds (IRE)

7

Mr Trevor Hemmings Oliver Sherwood
Unioniste (FR)

6

Mr J. Hales Paul Nicholls
Sam Winner (FR)

7

Mrs Angela Yeoman Paul Nicholls
Monbeg Dude (IRE)

9

Oydunow Michael Scudamore
Annacotty (IRE)

6

Mrs Peter Prowting Martin Keighley
Buywise (IRE)

7

Mr T. Hywel Jones Evan Williams
Wiesentraum (GER)

8

G. Pascoe & S. Brewer Lucy Wadham
Easter Day (FR)

6

B. Fulton, Broughton Thermal Insulation Paul Nicholls
Mendip Express (IRE)

8

The Mendip Syndicate Harry Fry
Present View (GB)

6

Sir Chips Keswick Jamie Snowden
What A Warrior (IRE)

7

Mr & Mrs Gordon Pink Dan Skelton
Djakadam (FR)

5

Mrs S. Ricci W. P. Mullins
The Druids Nephew (IRE)

7

The Stonehenge Druids Neil Mulholland
Wychwoods Brook (GB)

8

Kevin & Anne Glastonbury Evan Williams
Midnight Prayer (GB)

9

The Legends Partnership Alan King
Via Sundown (FR)

6

The Old Brokers Gary Moore
Court In Motion (IRE)

9

Mr N. Mustoe Emma Lavelle
Knock A Hand (IRE)

9

Mr Alan Halsall Richard Lee
Victors Serenade (IRE)

9

Michael & Angela Bone Anthony Honeyball
Le Reve (IRE)

6

Mr P. H. Betts Lucy Wadham
Merry King (IRE)

7

Mr F. Gillespie Jonjo O’Neill
Edmund Kean (IRE)

7

Walters Plant Hire & James & Jean Potter Peter Bowen
Gallant Oscar (IRE)

8

Mr G. Kelly A. J. Martin

 

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