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Saturday, November 28th
I love the Hennessy, not attending it as there just isn’t enough room at Newbury to cater for the race to enjoy the day properly, but the build up and then when the action ratchets up as they head out onto the final circuit as one by one they drop away. If you are not within a few lengths at the first fence in the home straight (four out) then forget it.
Denman aside, Galway Blaze back in 1985 was probably just about my favourite winner ahead of Strands Of Gold. Hard to believe that there were only eight runners when Ghofar won looking at how competitive the race is these days. It’s been a while since I backed the winner, State Of Play in 2006, so hopefully one of my two ante-post bets that I put up in Big Race Focus over the last couple of weeks can put that right. Next Wednesday’s Big Race Focus will be on the Becher Chase.
When it comes to dissect the Hennessy after the race, it is worth remembering that it’s been the best the Grand National guide and Many Clouds completed the double last year. The Druids Nephew, who looked to be going like a winner at Aintree when leading until falling five out, also contested the Hennessy earlier in the season. Between 1987-2005 as many as 18 of its field went on to finish in the first four in the Grand National, of which seven won. It went quiet for ten years until Neptune Collonges ran at Newbury four seasons ago but came back with a bang last year.
However, the Hennessy has been a terrible guide to the Welsh National as horses which take their chance at Chepstow after a big run at Newbury have found it hard to get over those exertions in time. Given that second and third-season chasers have dominated both these staying prizes and there is only a month between the two races, a logical conclusion would be to support a horse that performed with distinction in the Newbury showpiece. However, no Hennessy runner has won the Welsh Grand National since Playschool completed the double in 1987 and many have been very well fancied since. In fact, we have witnessed 12 horses start favourite or second-favourite at Chepstow off the back of a big effort at Newbury without success since 1987, the latest being Monbeg Dude last year who was sent off favourite after finishing fourth at Newbury. It almost certainly leads to the conclusion that any horse that excelled in the Hennessy would, in all probability, need more than a month to recover from those exertions in another red-hot, staying handicap.