Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup Preview

Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup Preview: Newbury 3.05pm 26/11/2011

Horse Racing
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Published: 12/12/2011

The Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup at Newbury racecourse is widely regarded as one of the highlights of horse racingís national hunt season and the 2011 renewal looks set to be an absolute cracker once again.

Raced over a distance of three miles and two and half furlongs, this Grade three handicap affair provides a real acid test for some of the best staying chasers in the sport.

Indeed, the contest has been won by some legendary names in the past, including One Man, Mandarin and the insurmountable Arkle who was also a three times Cheltenham Gold Cup winner.

Paul Nichollsís Denman has set the racing world alight at the course in the recent past, triumphing firstly as a seven year-old under top weight in 2007 before regaining his title two years later in remarkable fashion as he gave a high quality field the best part of two stone in weight as well as a sound beating.

Nicholls also won the race with Strong Flow in 2003 and the Ditcheat handler is likely to hold a strong hand once again this year with What A Friend, Neptune Collonges, Aiteen Thirtythree, Mon Parrain and Michel Le Bon all entered at the initial entry stage.

What A Friend and Neptune Collonges will carry the top weights should Nicholls opt to keep them in the race, a move which would also compress the handicap for his other, younger charges who are less exposed and potentially on a generous handicap mark.

This could, nevertheless, play straight into the hands of rival horses and connections, especially with racing weight being such a vital factor in what is an ultra-competitive, high class handicap.

Phillip Hobbsís Planet Of Sound is set to make his return in the race and the 2010 Punchestown Gold Cup winner looks extremely well treated on his current mark and allotted weight of 11st 1lb.

The nine year-old hasnít exactly been without his problems however he undoubtedly possesses a high level of class and ability which he has demonstrated on numerous occasions in graded company.

He is still lightly raced for his age and will appreciate the trip at Newbury as long as he can find his jumping rhythm and momentum.

And it is the ability to jump quickly, methodically and economically which will really set apart the best horses from the no hopers over a punishing two and a half circuits.

This conceivably brings the likes of Great Endeavour, Joncol and Carruthers into the mix and the former will have the added bonus of being in front of the handicapper after triumphing in the paddy Power Gold Cup at the start of November.

Second season chasers as a whole usually feature prominently and can be well handicapped due to their inexperience, although their jumping will have to show marked improvement on their novice campaign to feature at the business end, especially if they have persistently demonstrated sketchy fencing.

Horses such as Wymott, Wayward Prince and Wishful Thinking will therefore have to up their game in and amongst a wealth of seasoned campaigners.

The Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup really does provide excellent horse racing entertainment as well as fuelling one of the busiest betting heats of the year.

Unravelling the handicap may be a hard job but a satisfying and enjoyable one nonetheless if a winner can be found.

With a mix of both older horses and potential stars in the field, the 2011 race could well throw up a host of surprises as well as serving up a proper racing treat.


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