Hennessy Gold Cup weights revealed

Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Coneygree has been allotted 11st 9lb in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury on the third and final day of the bet365 Festival, Saturday, November 28.

The weights for the famous £200,000 handicap chase over three and a quarter miles are headed by Irish star Don Cossack (11st 12lb), but look set to rise by 3lb with his trainer Gordon Elliott indicating that the eight-year-old is almost certain to head elsewhere.

Likely top-weight Coneygree, trained locally by Mark Bradstock, is the 9/2 favourite with bet365 after a facile 25-length victory on his seasonal debut in the Listed Future Stars Chase over three miles at Sandown Park on November 8.

The eight-year-old, still unbeaten over fences, will try to emulate fellow Gold Cup winner Denman. Denman defied 11st 12lb and a mammoth rating of 174 to win his second Hennessy Gold Cup in 2009, having also scored under top-weight for his first victory in 2007.

Denman’s handler Paul Nicholls, the champion Jump trainer, appears to have the biggest danger to Coneygree in Saphir Du Rheu (11st). The six-year-old made an inauspicious start over fences last season but got his act together at Aintree in April and readily dispatched The Young Master (Neil Mulholland, 10st 1lb) on his comeback in a two and a half mile intermediate chase at Carlisle on November 1.

Nicholls’ eight entries also include RSA Chase runner-up Southfield Theatre (10st 5lb), who was no match for Coneygree off level weights at Sandown Park, and bet365 Gold Cup victor Just A Par (9st 13lb).

Unbeaten chaser Vroum Vroum Mag (10st 5lb) kicks off her season in a Grade Three mares’ chase at Clonmel tomorrow. She leads a five-strong team for Ireland’s champion trainer Willie Mullins, alongside RSA Chase victor Don Poli (11st) and Valseur Lido (10st 8lb), who was a dual Grade One scorer last season.

Houblon Des Obeaux (10st 7lb, Venetia Williams) conceded weight all round when runner-up to Many Clouds (Oliver Sherwood, 11st 4lb), the subsequent Crabbie’s Grand National winner, in a terrific renewal of the Hennessy Gold Cup in 2014.

The eight-year-old returned to Newbury in February to chase home Coneygree in the Grade Two Betfair Denman Chase and ran respectably behind the same rival in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, coming sixth.

He is set to contest the Hennessy Gold Cup for the third time in 2015, having also stayed on to be sixth in 2013. Houblon Des Obeaux made his seasonal reappearance at Ascot on October 31, finishing ninth in a Grade Three handicap chase under top-weight.

In-form Herefordshire-based Williams reported: “The plan is to go for the Hennessy Gold Cup again with Houblon Des Obeaux and he looks set to carry a bit less weight than what he is used to.

“I don’t think the weight affected him too much on his seasonal reappearance at Ascot, but the ground wasn’t really what he wants as it was a bit quick.

“He prefers it softer as when there is more give it just slows down the pace which suits him. He always seems to run well at Newbury.

“I don’t think my other entry Saroque (8st 11lb) will run as he is unlikely to be in the handicap and I would want him to be in the handicap to run.”

Other notables in the Hennessy Gold Cup include Cheltenham Festival victor The Druids Nephew (Neil Mullholland, 10st 7lb), Smad Place (Alan King, 10st 6lb) and 2012 Hennessy Gold Cup winner Bobs Worth (Nicky Henderson, 10st 4lb) who won over hurdles at Aintree recently.
Hennessy Gold Cup – bet365 bet: 9/2 Coneygree; 5/1 Saphir du Rheu; 10/1 Vroum Mag; 11/1 Don Poli; 12/1 Don Cossack, Smad Place, Bobs Worth, Pendra; 14/1 Valseur Lido; 16/1 Dynaste, Ballynagour, The Druids Nephew, Kings Palace, The Young Master; 20/1 Sam Winner, Southfield Theatre, Virak, Fingal Bay, Monetaire, Ned Stark; 25/1 Menorah, Rocky Creek, Unioniste, Spring Heeled, Le Reve, If In Doubt, Just A Par, Benbens, Sausalito Sunrise, Easter Day, Urano; 33/1 The Giant Bolster, Houblon des Obeaux, Triolo d’Alene, Un Ace, Splash of Ginge, Ballycasey, First Lieutenant, Carole’s Destrier, Cloudy Too, Present View, Deputy Dan, Theatre Guide, La Vaticane; 40/1 Fox Appeal, Annacotty, Lost Legend, Royal Player; 50/1 Seventh Sky, Al Co, Horizontal Speed, Godsmejudge, No Buts, Algernon Pazham, Cogry, Saroque, Mountainous, African Gold

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