Duke the full Package in Hennessy
Ben Linfoot seeks out the value in the Hennessy Gold Cup and he's backing 10/1 and 25/1 chances.
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The Hennessy Gold Cup has been fairly good to punters who don't stray far from the top of the market over the years and this year's favourite Bob's Worth is bound to be a popular choice on Saturday.
Strong Flow's win at 5/1 in 2003 began a good run for well-fancied horses with the SPs of Hennessy winners since then 9/4, 13/2, 10/1, 5/1, 25/1, 11/4, 11/2 and 10/1 - the 25/1 about Madison Du Berlais the only one you'd consider to be a shock.
And this year the trend could well continue. The ground is drying on the chase course so we're not going to get the war of attrition that it looked like it might have been earlier in the week and there is bags of pace in the race.
Carruthers, Fruity O'Rooney, Teaforthree and Alfie Spinner all like to race prominently and I can envisage a situation where the cream rises to the top.
You don't want to be out of form heading into a Hennessy, you don't want to have question marks in the jumping department and you don't want to be a suspect stayer.
Plenty of those at bigger prices fall down on at least one of that criteria with DUKE OF LUCCA at 25/1 the only outsider I am tempted by.
He's taken some time to get to grips with chasing but looks to be getting the hang of it now and I think there's more to come from him over fences.
I liked the way he jumped at Ascot and given his impressive shape over a fence he was probably inconvenienced by the second last being omitted.
He hasn't encountered genuine soft ground for a long time but did win a novice hurdle very easily in such conditions and if he jumps as well as he did at Ascot I'd expect a big run.
Though the Milan gelding hasn't yet hit the heights he did over hurdles (placed in a Grade 1 at Punchestown) it does prove there is still improvement to be had over fences as he remains 5lb lower than his highest rating over timber.
The tongue-strap seems to have helped him since it was first deployed when he was fifth in the Jewson at Cheltenham and Philip Hobbs, who won the Hennessy in 2001 with What's Up Boys, reported him to have worked very well last Tuesday.
He's worth backing at 25s, but so is THE PACKAGE at 10s given what I was saying about those at the top of the market earlier.
I'm surprised this horse is available at 10/1 as he has the best chase form in the race this season following his comfortable win in the Badger Ales Trophy at Wincanton.
The handicapper had given him a chance after a long absence and though he couldn't quite capitalise at Cheltenham in March he made no mistake on his seasonal reappearance.
He's back up to a mark of 147 now, a joint-career high, but he's in the form of his life and looks to have all the credentials needed in a Hennessy winner.
A sound jumper, he stays very well and Timmy Murphy's softly softly style suits him down to the ground. Those tactics will be ideal too considering the pace angle.
The ground will be fine for him and he's fairly lightly-raced for a nine year old - this will just be his 13th start over fences.
He could still be progressing and rates a very solid 10/1 chance.
Hold On Julio could be the main danger as he put in a likeable effort at Cheltenham with this race in mind while Bob's Worth is an obvious contender.
I just feel 4/1 is very short about a horse who has no form on soft ground and you would like the RSA form to be working out better than it is too.