Hennessy Gold Cup 2016
Saturday November 26, 15:10 GMT
1. SMAD PLACE Alan King
Took form to new level switched to forcing tactics last term, winning this race (by 12 lengths from Theatre Guide) and Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham. Encouraging return when fourth to Third Intention in Old Roan Chase at Aintree and considered here, despite 11 lb higher mark than last year.
2. UN TEMPS POUR TOUT David Pipe
Put it all together over fences to match high-class hurdles form when winning competitive 25f handicap chase at the Cheltenham Festival last March. Only fourth to Native River in Mildmay at Aintree next time, but made winning return in minor hurdle there this month. Still on a fair mark.
3. HOLYWELL Jonjo O'Neill
Very smart at his best and ran another good race at the Cheltenham Festival when seven lengths second of 23 to Un Temps Pout Tout in handicap chase there last March. Got no further than the second in Grand National in April and without usual headgear when well held over hurdles on return.
4. NATIVE RIVER Colin Tizzard
Gained sixth career success when making all in Mildmay Novices' Chase at Aintree last April by three lengths and more from Henri Parry Morgan, Blaklion and Un Temps Pout Tout (level weights). Good second to Silsol in West Yorkshire Hurdle at Wetherby on reappearance and remains with potential.
5. BLAKLION Nigel Twiston-Davies
Sound jumper with a good attitude who was rewarded again when winning RSA at Cheltenham last March. Not quite as good when six and three-quarter lengths third to Native River at Aintree, but ran well on the figures when fourth to Irish Cavalier in Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby on reappearance.
6. HOUBLON DES OBEAUX Venetia Williams
Runner-up in this race in 2014 (off 4 lb lower than current mark), though only sixth and ninth either side. Best effort for a while when winning Denman Chase at Newbury (first-time cheekpieces) last February by a wide margin, but ran no sort of race in Bowl at Aintree after. The more rain the better.
7. SAPHIR DU RHEU Paul Nicholls
Form rather tailed off after making a winning return last season, including tried in blinkers on final start, but made creditable comeback when third to Antony in Grade 3 handicap at Ascot last month. High-class performer at his best and sent off favourite for this race in 2015 off 10 lb higher mark (fifth).
8. VICENTE Paul Nicholls
Four wins as a novice chaser last season included giving 8 lb to Un Temps Pout Tout at Cheltenham and 28-runner Scottish Grand National at Aintree, when beating Alvarado by two and three-quarter lengths. 5 lb rise looks fair and won't be inconvenienced by dropping back in trip, so one to consider.
9. HENRI PARRY MORGAN Peter Bowen
Improved again after being fitted with tongue tie last February, winning handicaps at Chepstow/ Uttoxeter before three lengths second to Native River in Mildmay at Aintree. Well backed (5/1) and still to be asked for effort when unseating six out in bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown final start.
10. TRIOLO D'ALENE Nicky Henderson
Won this race as a six-year-old in 2013 but has run only seven times since (pulled up three out in 2014 renewal). Beat sole remaining rival Wishfull Thinking in 2½m listed chase at Kempton last January, but well held in Ascot Chase and Grand National on subsequent starts. Hard to recommend.
11. AUBUSSON Nick Williams
Made winning chase debut at Uttoxeter last December, but undone by more demanding fences/drop back to 21f when pulled up at Cheltenham next time and has returned to hurdles at Auteuil all three starts since (fourth in Group 1s last twice). Remains with potential as a chaser, but has a stiff mark.
12. DOUBLE ROSS Nigel Twiston-Davies
Took advantage of a drop in the weights to end a losing sequence stretching back the thick end of three years in 3m handicap at Chepstow on return. Well below form in veterans event at Aintree two weeks later in October and easily passed over here.
13. THEATRE GUIDE Colin Tizzard
Third in this race in 2013 and runner-up last year. Now on a higher mark than for both those races after winning BetBright Chase (Handicap) at Kempton last February, but did look as good as ever when second to Indian Stream in listed event over inadequate 19f at Wetherby on reappearance.
14. COOLOGUE Charlie Longsdon
Off the mark at first attempt over fences at Bangor 13 months ago and placed on next four starts before being pulled up at Aintree. Dug deep to make winning return in Showcase Trophy at Cheltenham (25f) last month by length from Keltus, but more on his plate off 8 lb higher mark here.
15. CAROLE'S DESTRIER Neil Mulholland
Three-time winner in novice campaign in 2014/15 and took form up another notch when landing 3½m Sandown handicap last December. Ended last season on a whimper, pulled up at Cheltenham Festival and only eleventh in bet365 Gold Cup back at Sandown, but could easily get back on track this term.
16. REGAL ENCORE Anthony Honeyball
Won a novice chase at Plumpton (17f) last December and, after being pulled up on next three starts, got back to form when close second of 15 to Pleasant Company in Pat Taaffe Handicap Chase at Punchestown. Worth a try over this far, though others appeal as having more potential.
17. LOCAL SHOW Ben Pauling
Fairly useful form over fences in 2014/15 and no surprise to see him do better over fences last term given his pedigree, winning novices at this track (handicap) and Kempton before finishing seventh in the four-miler at Cheltenham. Will need to improve again back in a handicap (off 146).
18. VYTA DU ROC Nicky Henderson
Matched his smart hurdles form over fences last term, winning novices at Bangor and Ascot (Grade 2 by half a length from Minella Rocco). Not disgraced when fifth in both RSA and Scottish National thereafter, and in need of run when behind Un Temps Pout Tout over timber at Aintree this month.
19. HADRIAN'S APPROACH Nicky Henderson
Always been prone to mistakes (unseated at fifth in this race in 2013) but put it all together on the big stage when winning the bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown in spring 2014. Has run only six times since, and didn't shape as if ready to win when ninth of 12 to Antony in Grade 3 handicap at Ascot on return.
20. UPSWING Jonjo O'Neill
Won a novice handicap chase in October 2015 and a good second to Sausalito Sunrise in a Grade 3 handicap at Cheltenham next time. Better for return and wearing first-time blinkers when fifth to Viconte du Noyer in latest renewal of latter race recently, but slightly 'wrong' at the weights here.
Timeform Hennessy Gold Cup 1-2-3
1. Henri Parry Morgan
3. Native River
At the forecast prices, HENRI PARRY MORGAN and Vicente appeal most. The latter demonstrated his staying power when landing the Scottish National at Ayr when last seen in April and this drop back in trip shouldn't pose a problem. However, preference is for Henri Parry Morgan, who improved last season and may have even more to offer this time round. Native River and Vyta du Roc are live dangers.