There’s plenty of top quality action taking place on this Saturday afternoon and we’ve got some of the big races covered for you here with our previews.
There’s only one place to start and that is with the Hennessey Gold Cup, which is a Grade 3 Handicap held over three miles and a furlong. This is one of the most competitive races of the season and should be a cracking watch.
Paul Nicholls trained Denman to win this race off top weight back in 2008 and the Ditcheat based handler is trying to emulate that success this campaign with Saphir Du Rheu, who will now carry 11-12 in the race following Coneygree’s withdrawal during the week.
This six-year-old is the class act in the race, but has put in some suspect jumping over fences in the past and can’t afford to make any mistakes in a race like this.
At 4/1, the horse looks a little short and there are a couple at much better value that we like.
Smad Place, If In Doubt and Bobs Worth all have very good chances, but we’re quite keen on the chances of Houblon Des Obeaux here for the Venetia Williams team.
He ran a cracker to finish in second in the race last season and is now off a pound lower than that mark. The form behind Many Clouds is rock solid and he will relish this ground.
The horse was competing in some very good Graded races last season, but is off a nice handicap mark and looks value at 14/1.
Theatre Guide could be a huge price as well at around 20/1 for the in form Colin Tizzard. Paddy Brennan is booked for the race and although the horse has a bit to prove over this distance, he’s reportedly going very well at home and has to be in with an EW chance.
Also, one of our old favourites The Druids Nephew looks to be worth a small EW bet at 20/1 and could be a little bit underestimated.
Prior to the Hennessey, we see the Grade 2 Long Distance Hurdle take place. Five runners will go to post in this race over three mile and Whisper is leading the way in the betting right now at 7/4.
He was a winner of the Liverpool Hurdle at Aintree and ran a cracking race on that day, beating Cole Harden by over three lengths.
Nicky Henderson’s charge can put in a bit of a stinker every now and then, but has to have a big chance here.
World Hurdle winner Cole Harden re-opposes and is a 5/2 shot for the bang in form Warren Greatrex. The small field could suit the six-year-old and he might get an easy time of things out in front and dominate this field.
At 5/2, the Cheltenham Festival looks to be the best bet but 4/1 shot Thistlecrack is very much feared following some excellent performances as a novice last season.
It should be a cracking race but the World Hurdle winner might just be the one to beat.
Newcastle’s biggest race of the season – the StanJames.com Fighting Fifth Hurdle – takes place today as well. This Grade One is held over two miles and sees seven runners go to post.
The 2/1 favourite right now is Wicklow Brave for Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh. This horse has been on the go for quite some time now and was second in the Ebor, before being placed in both the Irish St Leger and Long Distance Race on Champions Day.
The six-year-old came back over hurdles last time out and was a fast finishing third behind Nichols Canyon and Faugheen. If either of those horses were running here, they’d be a much shorter price.
However, Wicklow Brave faces an in form and somewhat rejuvenated Irving, who is at 10/3 and comes here looking for a hat trick.
He ran only last week, but jockey Nick Scholfield told Paul Nicholls to run in this race straight after that victory at Haydock and the trainer might just have this horse back to his best. He’s the bet here.
Top Notch, Beltor and Identity Thief are very much respected too.
Bring on a cracking day of racing!