The eyes of the jumping world will fall on Newbury this weekend as they get ready to host the famous Hennessy Gold Cup. The Hennessy is one of the biggest handicap races in the sport and is one of the races on the calendar that the majority of punters love to sink their teeth into. Thousands of fans will pack the Berkshire course and unsurprisingly the betting market for the race has been live for some time now.
One horse in particular has been attracting the lion share of the attention this past week though with the Willie Mullins trained Djakadam set to head over the Irish Sea as the one to beat. The five-year-old fell in the JLT Novices Chase at Cheltenham last season when travelling well but connections are convinced that this is a horse of the highest quality to go to war with.
Djakadam certainly ticks the boxes in terms of class and as a second season chaser while the money for him in recent days is hard to ignore. He does have a piece of history to overcome though if he is going to win on Saturday with no five-year-old ever having won the Hennessy before. That is a remarkable stat and potentially a telling one but Djakadam does have plenty of class and off of a fair weight plenty believe that he can re-write the record books this weekend.
The Willie Mullins trained horse has dominated the Hennessy Gold Cup Betting market for some time now but this by no means a one horse race with some excellent horses set to take the favourite on. One of those is certainly Smad Place who was second in the RSA Chase last season for Alan King and has been aimed at Newbury for some time now. The popular grey is a guaranteed stayer which is also in his favour although he will probably need a career best off of 11st 10lbs to win.
Philip Hobbs has been firing in the winners all season and he will be hoping that Fingal Bay can add to that this weekend in the Hennessy. Hobbs has long thought very highly of Fingal Bay and he returns to fences for the first time in nearly two years on Saturday after a successful spell back over hurdles. The eight-year-old won the Pertemps Final at Cheltenham last March ahead of some good horses and will have no problem with the trip this weekend which should be in his favour.
Connections were clearly eager to send him back over fences and a tilt at the Hennessy is a very interesting indeed first time out. He too has plenty of weight on his back but Fingal Bay is sure to attract plenty of money this weekend and few would be surprised if he ran a massive race.
Other horses to consider include Triolo D'Alene and Rocky Creek who finished in first and second last season and although both have been given a hike in the weights this year, both are capable of running well again, especially Rocky Creek who has had the benefit of a run already this season. One other horse we should mention as a potential winner is the Oliver Sherwood trained Many Clouds who looks fairly treated and is reportedly in fine form at home ahead of this test.