Seasonal bow should have Mulholland runner Hennessy ready
27 November 2015
At Newbury on Friday Dan Skelton was man enough to admit he had got it wrong.
Skelton had just saddled Three Musketeers to win the influential Fuller’s London Pride Novices’ Chase and was standing in the winners’ enclosure.
Just along the way was Harry Fry looking after Activial, who was second on the podium. In third was Alan King – there was very much a sense of changing of the guard.
A few weeks ago Skelton had run Three Musketeers at Huntingdon and the five-year-old went off evens favourite. Under Harry Skelton, Three Musketeers took it up five out and blew up on his first run since April.
With a run under his belt Three Musketeers was much better on Friday, and afterwards Skelton underlined that only a month ago many trainers still had turf gallops that were good to firm.
With that in mind I simply cannot have a horse that has not a prep run for Saturday's Hennessy Gold Cup, one of the most competitive races of the season even if six of the last ten winners were making their seasonal bow.
Only Al Co and If In Doubt have yet to be seen this campaign, but If In Doubt looks a jumper of dubious quality and to me he looks a place lay.
Training methods have come a long way in the last decade or so and it is clearly easier than ever to get one ready for the big day after a long lay off.
You have only got to look at Willie Mullins’s extraordinary training feat of getting Sir Des Champs in to the winners’ enclosure last week on his first start since December 2013. Last Saturday Jonjo O’Neill had winners off absences of 584 and 565 days so If In Doubt fans should not be put off.
Neil Mulholland is another trainer who has admitted that he perhaps should have got more work in to The Young Master when Saphir Du Rheu put him in firmly in his place at Carlisle this month.
The Young Master is still progressive having had only six starts and fits the profile of the classic Hennessy winner. Last season he bombed in the RSA Chase because he went hoof to hoof with King's Palace up front. Without Coneygree he is one of the few front runners in the Hennessy field. Sam Waley-Cohen takes off a useful 3lbs in the saddle and his family obviously feel that the horse is a Grand National type in the mould of last year's winner Many Clouds. This month it was revealed that the Waley-Cohens had bought a 50% share in the six-year-old.
The Young Master meets Saphir Du Rheu on 11lbs better terms without Waley-Cohen's help and although would have needed all of those to be competitive at Carlisle with a run under his belt he can push the favourite all the way.
Elsewhere on the Hennessy Gold Cup card Lady Persephone is another who can take a step forward with a run under her belt. Alan King said earlier in the week that the daughter of Sir Percy could be rerouted to Doncaster if the opening Listed Mares’ Novice Hurdle was too hot for her.
It does not appear to be the case and on soft ground she handles she could improve enough to beat the steady Colla Pier and favourite Tea In Transvaal, who beat King’s Karezak in October.
If it really rains and comes up soft then Cesar Milan for Paul Nicholls in the Sir Peter O’Sullevan Memorial Handicap Chase could be worth a look at 16-1 with Skybet.
Geoffrey Riddle’s Saturday tips:
12.15pm Newbury: Lady Persephone at 10-1 with Paddy Power.
1.15pm Newbury: Cesar Milan at 16-1 with Skybet
3.00pm Newbury: The Young Master at 10-1 generally available.
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