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Thursday 26 November 2015

3:00 Newbury, Saturday, 28th November

The Hennessy Gold Cup, run over 3 miles 2 furlongs at Newbury, is the first major staying chase of the season and, often, a bona fide trial for the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Fittingly, the race doesn’t have a habit of throwing up long-priced winners and doesn’t feature too many horses that can be written off completely. In fact, a handicap rating of 139 required to make it into the 17-strong field this year, so not even the complete ‘rag’, Al Co (100/1) can be totally discounted.

Splash Of Ginge (50/1) completely lost his way last season after winning a competitive chase, over 2 miles 5 furlongs, at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day, but offered signs of encouragement when seventh of 20, beaten 11½ lengths, behind Annacotty in the Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham two weeks ago. Nigel Twiston-Davies’ 7-year-old has yet to race, never mind win, beyond 2 miles 5 furlongs over fences, but has winning form on good to soft, soft and heavy going. He remains 4lb higher in the weights than at Cheltenham, but talented conditional jockey Jamie Bargary takes off 5lb so, if he stays, he could run well above expectations.

Fox Appeal (50/1) won twice over 3 miles over hurdles and appears to have improved a little for steeping up to 3 miles, and beyond, over fences. While his placed form at Cheltenham and Ascot doesn’t suggest that he’s readymade winner-in-waiting, the step up to 3 miles 2 furlongs on soft going could be the making of him and the bookmakers may have seriously underestimated his chance. Emma Lavelle traditionally does well at this time of year, so the son of St. Leger winner Brian Boru could be cause for further celebration by the Hampshire trainer.

Nigel Twiston-Davies’ other entry, Benbens (40/1), is obviously no spring chicken at the age of ten, but has winning form over 3 miles 1 furlong on soft going and is only 5lb higher in the weights than when winning at Aintree in October, so appeals as another who’s overpriced. He’ll need a career-best effort to win, but that’s by no means out of the question, having won with something in hand at Aintree.

Selections: Newbury 3.00 Splash Of Ginge (50/1), Fox Appeal (50/1), Benbens (40/1)


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