Invictus in fine shape ahead of Hennessy Gold Cup bid
Alan King reports that Hennessy Gold Cup ante-post favourite Invictus is in fine shape as he continues his preparation ahead of next Saturday’s £175,000 showpiece at Newbury Racecourse.
The son of Flemensfirth cantered this morning in front of the press at Barbury Castle Stables and will be having his first run since winning the Grade Two Reynoldstown Novices’ Chase at Ascot in February 2012.
He beat last season’s Hennessy Gold Cup and Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Bobs Worth and Betfair Chase winner Silviniaco Conti that day. Asked how he would sum up that performance, King said:
“Everyone keeps saying that the other two didn’t fire, but all I know is that he won well on the day. He was really progressive all season.”
Invictus didn’t make it to the Cheltenham Festival that year after straining a tendon in the build-up.
“The injury was bad enough, there was no way we were going to get him back in a year, put it that way. He was fine after Ascot, but he did his tendon in a gallop 10 days before the Festival,” King added.
Despite being happy with the horse’s well-being, King appreciates it will be a big task to defy such a long layoff.
“Whatever he does in the Hennessy he’ll improve. We’ve done as much as we can with him, but we’re not going to have him 100% no matter what we do. The handicapper has dropped him to a mark of 145, so we’ll just have to see,” said the Scottish handler.
Clerk of the course at Newbury Racecourse, Richard Osgood, gave the current going conditions as good-to-soft on the chase course and soft, good-to-soft in places on the hurdles course. Invictus has form on all types of ground, but his trainer is hoping it stays quite soft.
“He certainly wants a bit of cut, he wouldn’t want fast ground and he won’t get that. Soft will be fine,” added King.
The Barbury Castle trainer expects to have six or seven runners over the three-day Hennessy Heritage Festival.
“Medinas goes for the bet365 Long Distance Hurdle on the Saturday and we also plan to run The Pirate’s Queen in the new mares’ race.”
“We’ve got Wilde Blue Yonder for the novices’ hurdle on the Thursday and Chocala in the juvenile novices’ hurdle on the Friday.”
The three-day meeting, which culminates with the 57th running of the Hennessy Gold Cup, has been renamed the ‘Hennessy Heritage Festival’ to reflect its status as Europe’s longest running sporting sponsorship. Total prize money of £570,000 is up for grabs over the three days, an increase of 20% on 2012.
LATEST GOING AT THE RACECOURSE NEWBURY
Chase Course: Good-to-Soft
Hurdle Course: Soft, Good-to-Soft in places
Latest Hennessy Gold Cup Prices (bet365)
Lord Windermere 10/1
Our Father 10/1
Rocky Creek 10/1
Hadrian’s Approach 12/1
Highland Lodge 12/1
Tidal Bay 12/1
Houblon Des Obeaux 14/1
Imperial Commander 14/1
Merry King 14/1
On His Own 16/1
Super Duty 16/1
Tofino Bay 16/1
Wyck Hill 16/1
Each-way ¼ 1-2-3-4