Obeaux can repeat last year’s heroics
27 November 2015
Houblon Des Obeaux ran a screamer to come second at 50-1 in last year’s Hennessy Gold Cup.
A repeat of that will give him every chance of going one better – and he thoroughly deserves to win a big one after going on to finish runner-up in good races at Ascot and Newbury last season.
Everything is in his favour. He will like the ground, clearly enjoys the course and carries 7lb less weight than last year thanks to top-weight Saphir Du Rheu’s participation.
People might point to his run last time – his seasonal debut – when he was ninth at Ascot, but he just got outpaced on ground which was a little too fast for him. Everything should happen a little slower on Saturday.
He is still only eight, and seems as good as ever at home. Last year, we obviously ran into a good one in the shape of Many Clouds, and Saphir Du Rheu could be a class act this time around. He could be challenging for the big prizes this year and is clearly the one we all have to beat.
Aso best of the rest
Aso could be a bit of value in the novices’ handicap chase. He ran well on his debut over fences at Warwick earlier this month, coming second to Willow’s Saviour, who won the Ladbroke two years ago.
Aso was progressive last year, winning a Grade 2, and there should be a lot more to come from him, especially over the bigger obstacles. I am quite keen on his chances.
Shangani usually runs a good race and will have an each-way shout in the Sir Peter O’Sullevan Memorial Handicap Chase. He showed he was in good form on his first start back, when second to Howlongisafoot at Taunton and has won on his only previous run at Newbury.
Dubawi Island comes here on a hat-trick and showed he was in good nick with his win at Ludlow. He usually runs his race but is stepping up in grade in the Bet365 Handicap Hurdle. This will present a real test for him.
Aqalim gave me my first winner for John Ferguson back in April and he has made a pleasing start to this campaign proper with a third in a Grade Two Hurdle at Wetherby at the end of October.
He will come on for that run but again the Bet365 Long Distance Hurdle looks another stiff task.
My final ride on Saturday is Gardefort, who lines up in the Bet365 Handicap Hurdle. This is his first run for 11 months as he came back from Wetherby with a problem. We’ve always liked him. He’s a strong travelling horse but hasn’t finished his races off.
Hopefully with another year under his belt, he can find that extra in the business end of the race. He's a very interesting runner.
Choice has great chance at Chepstow
Finally, I was thrilled with Emperor’s Choice, who was very impressive when winning at Haydock last weekend. He travelled brilliantly throughout the race and it was the perfect prep for the defence of his Coral Welsh Grand National crown next month. We couldn’t be happier with him and he must be the one to beat at this stage.