The Irish Hennessy Gold Cup is a huge race in its own right but at this stage of the season it also acts as an important trial for the Gold Cup at the Cheltenham Festival next month. The race at Leopardstown was rearranged after being rained off a week ago and it was Kempes who travelled the best and duly picked up over the final couple of fences to win in style for Willie Mullins. As a result of the run connections have confirmed he will now be aimed towards the Gold Cup and based on the win he is more than entitled to take his chance in with the big boys. The bookmakers were impressed with the run and Kempes is now as short as 12/1 in places for the big race, while he can still be backed at 16/1 which may prove to be good each-way value come race day. Kempes was clearly the best horse in the field and he beat a decent field at Leopardstown with Glencove Marina back in second place, ahead of 2010 winner Joncol who looked a little one paced back in third place.
Kempes is now likely to be the mount of A P McCoy in the Gold Cup with the horse owned by JP McManus and with the Champion Jockey on board his price is likely to contract as we get closer to race day. The Cheltenham Gold Cup is looking pretty open at the moment which is why Kempes cannot be ruled out at this stage despite perhaps not having the form at the very highest level. Imperial Commander retains favouritism as he goes for back-to-back victories in the race but he has been off track since November and will go straight to the Festival without another run. Long Run has been the big market mover since winning the King George at Kempton, and although he is the young pretender to the crown doubts remain about his ability to act around Cheltenham. Kauto Star and Denman have been the stars of the Cheltenham Festival for many years now but at 11 they both look past their best leaving the betting wide open, which means that a runner like Kempes could prove an attractive alternative to the bigger names in the field.