Saphir Du Rheu heads 17 runners in Saturday’s Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury

Saphir Du Rheu (11st 12lb) faces 16 rivals as he bids to become the ninth winner to defy top-weight in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury on the third final day of the bet365 Festival, Saturday, November 28.

The six-year-old, trained Paul Nicholls and ridden by Sam Twiston-Davies, has been strongly fancied for the three and a quarter mile handicap chase, worth a record £200,000 this year, since recording an easy victory over The Young Master (Neil Mulholland/Mr Sam Waley-Cohen (3), 10st 10lb, 9/1 with bet365) in a two and half mile graduation chase at Carlisle on November 1. Saphir Du Rheu (pictureed below) is the 7/2 favourite with bet365.
Bobs Worth (Nicky Henderson/Nico de Boinville, 10st 13lb, 6/1) attempts to become the fourth dual winner of the Hennessy Gold Cup, having taken the spoils in 2012 en route to success in the Cheltenham Gold Cup. He comes into Saturday’s feature race at Newbury on the back of a hurdling success at Aintree last month, his first win since December, 2013.

David Bridgwater hopes The Giant Bolster (Tom Scudamore, 11st 5lb, 33/1) can recapture his best form. The 10-year-old was placed in the 2012 and 2014 renewals of the Cheltenham Gold Cup, with his latest victory coming in the Grade Two Argento Chase at Cheltenham in January 2014.

He failed to reproduce that form in five starts last season and has not run since taking a heavy fall in the Grade One Punchestown Gold Cup in April.

Saphir du Rheu Social Media

Bridgwater said today: “The Giant Bolster’s preparation has gone well. He came in earlier from his summer break and is in really good order with himself.

“I don’t think he was particularly right last season. Punchestown hasn’t affected him – I just think it was one of those tired falls.

“I am hoping for an encouraging run on Saturday. I see the likes of Bobs Worth and Smad Place are well fancied and if you fancy them you have got to fancy us because on our day, like a few in there, we are a good horse on a decent mark.

“I thought Coneygree was a certainty (before the decision on Tuesday to miss the Hennessy Gold Cup), although Bobs Worth might be now as he is nearly two-stone well in.
“We have left the headgear off on Saturday just to do something different – there is no point doing the same thing.

“Tom Scudamore came in to school The Giant Bolster this morning and, Tom will tell you himself, it was the best the horse has jumped since we can’t remember when. We will know our fate over the first couple of fences but he was winging them this morning.”

Trainer Alan King is doubly represented through Smad Place (Wayne Hutchinson, 11st 4lb, 5/1), who readily dispatched Fingal Bay (Philip Hobbs/Richard Johnson, 10st 7lb, 10/1) in a graduation chase at Kempton Park on November 2, and potential improver Ned Stark (Denis O’Regan, 10st 3lb, 12/1).

Other notables include Sky Bet Chase victor If In Doubt (Philip Hobbs/Barry Geraghty, 10st 12lb, 8/1), last year’s runner-up Houblon Des Obeaux (Venetia Williams/Aidan Coleman, 11st 5lb, 12/1) and Cheltenham Festival scorer The Druids Nephew (Neil Mulholland/Noel Fehily, 11st 5lb, 10/1).

The Irish challenge consists of multiple Grade One winner First Lieutenant (Mouse Morris/Mark Enright, 10st 10lb, 16/1) and Kerry National runner-up Urano (Willie Mullins/Daniel Mullins, 10st 3lb, 25/1), who captured a Listed prize last time out.

Nigel Twiston-Davies runs Scottish Grand National third Benbens (Ryan Hatch, 10st 4lb, 28/1), a winner at Aintree recently, and Splash Of Ginge (Jamie Bargary, 10st 7lb, 33/1) whose biggest victory came at Newbury in the 2014 Betfair Hurdle.

The field is completed by bottom-weight Theatre Guide (Colin Tizzard/Paddy Brennan, 10st 2lb, 20/1), Al Co (Peter Bowen/Sean Bowen, 10st 4lb, 100/1) and Fox Appeal (Emma Lavelle/Gavin Sheehan, 11st 1lb, 50/1).

Hennessy Gold Cup, bet 365 bet: 7/2 Saphir Du Rheu; 5/1 Smad Place; 6/1 Bobs Worth; 8/1 If In Doubt; 9/1 The Young Master; 10/1 The Druids Nephew, Fingal Bay; 12/1 Houblon Des Obeaux, Ned Stark; 16/1 First Lieutenant; 20/1 Theatre Guide; 25/1 Urano; 28/1 Benbens; 33/1 The Giant Bolster, Splash Of Ginge; 50/1 Fox Appeal; 100/1 Al Co


The Hennessy Gold Cup

Grade 3 handicap chase, £200,000 total prize fund. Saturday, November 28, 3m 1f 214y. For four-year-olds and upwards. Penalties: after November 8, a winner of a chase 4lb, a winner of two chases 7lb; no penalty to increase a horse’s weight above 11st 12lb. Entries closed October 27, entries revealed October 28 (60 entries), weights revealed November 11, scratchings deadline November 17 (35 remained), five-day confirmations November 23 (21 confirmations), final declarations November 26 (17 runners).


Horse Age Wgt Owner Trainer/Jockey
1) SAPHIR DU RHEU (FR) 6 11-12 The Stewart Family Paul Nicholls/Sam Twiston-Davies
2) THE DRUIDS NEPHEW (IRE) 8 11-05 The Stonehenge Druids Neil Mulholland/Noel Fehily
3) THE GIANT BOLSTER 10 11-05 Simon Hunt & Gary Lambton David Bridgwater/Tom Scudamore
4) HOUBLON DES OBEAUX (FR) 8 11-05 Mrs Julian Blackwell Venetia Williams/Aidan Coleman
5) SMAD PLACE (FR) 8 11-04 Mrs Peter Andrews Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson
6) BOBS WORTH (IRE) 10 11-02 The Not Afraid Partnership Nicky Henderson/Nico de Boinville
7) FOX APPEAL (IRE) 8 11-01 The Hawk Inn Syndicate 3 Emma Lavelle/Gavin Sheehan
8) THE YOUNG MASTER 6 10-10 Dajam Ltd & The Old Masters Neil Mulholland/Mr Sam Waley-Cohen (3)
9) SPLASH OF GINGE 7 10-07 John Neild Nigel Twiston-Davies/Jamie Bargary (5)
10) IF IN DOUBT (IRE) 7 10-12 J P McManus Philip Hobbs/Barry Geraghty
11) FIRST LIEUTENANT (IRE) 10 10-10 Gigginstown House Stud Mouse Morris IRE/Mark Enright
12) FINGAL BAY (IRE) 9 10-07 Carol Skan Philip Hobbs/Richard Johnson
13) BENBENS (IRE) 10 10-04 Sarah Such & C G Paletta Nigel Twiston-Davies/Ryan Hatch (3)
14) AL CO (FR) 10 10-04 Frank Lloyd Peter Bowen/Sean Bowen
15) NED STARK (IRE) 7 10-03 The Dunkley & Reilly Partnership Alan King/Denis O’Regan
16) URANO (FR) 7 10-03 Mrs M McMahon/Philip Reynolds Willie Mullins IRE/
17) THEATRE GUIDE (IRE) 8 10-02 Jean Bishop Colin Tizzard/Paddy Brennan


17 runners

2 Irish-trained

Newbury stages the second day of the bet365 Festival tomorrow, Friday, November 27 with a seven-race programme running from 12.25pm to 3.45pm.

Friday’s richest race is the £50,000 bet365 Open Handicap Chase (2.40pm, 12 runners) over just short of two and a half miles. The field includes Next Sensation (11st 8lb, Michael Scudamore/Liam Treadwell), successful in the Grand Annual Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, and Niceonefrankie (11st 4lb, Venetia Williams/Aidan Coleman), winner of the Grade Three Caspian Caviar Gold Cup at Cheltenham in 2014. The weights are headed by Grade Two scorer Top Gamble (11st 12lb, Kerry Lee/Jamie Moore), while champion Jump trainer Paul Nicholls is represented by the progressive Howlongisafoot (11st, Sam Twiston-Davies).

Subsequent Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Coneygree landed the £35,000 Fuller’s London Pride Novices’ Chase (2.05pm, 8 runners) in 2014 and there are a number of interesting contenders in this season’s renewal of the Grade Two contest, which is also staged over just short of two and a half miles.

Sametegal (Paul Nicholls/Sam Twiston-Davies) was third in the 2013 Grade One Christmas Hurdle and enjoyed the perfect start to his chasing career at Huntingdon on November 1, while Grade Two-winning hurdler Activial (Harry Fry/Noel Fehily) makes his chasing debut. Ubak (Gary Moore/Joshua Moore) was a Grade Two winner at Aintree in 2013 and is set to have his first racecourse appearance in two and a half years.

The bet365 Festival commenced at Newbury today.