Racing pundit Tony McCormick from www.irishbigracetrends.com and new racing radio station racingfm.com looks forward to one of the highlights of the National Hunt season The Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup
The Hennessey was established in 1957, and it was initially staged at Cheltenham.
The winner of the inaugural running, Mandarin, was owned by Peggy Hennessy, a member of the family which founded Hennessy, the race’s sponsoring company.
It was transferred to Newbury in 1960, and it was won by Mandarin for a second time in 1961.
The race’s association with Hennessy has continued throughout its history, and this now represents British racing’s longest commercial sponsorship.
The Hennessy Gold Cup has been won by eight horses which have also achieved victory in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
The most recent of these is Bobs Worth, the winner of the latter race in 2013.
This year’s renewal has the look of a stellar line up.
Hennessy Gold Cup favourite Djakadam is now a general 4-1 for Saturday’s race following the latest forfeit stage on Monday, which left 23 horses engaged.
Support for the Willie Mullins-trained five-year-old - bidding to become the first horse of that age to win the 3m2½f handicap - has seemingly grown in the past few days and the 10-1 on offer last week soon disappeared with Djakadam 5-1 over the weekend.
That price tumbled again on Monday and he is now 4-1 with most firms.
Optimism in the Willie Mullins camp is high, although a tough task awaits with fellow leading contenders Many Clouds, Fingal Bay, Smad Place and Rocky Creek also standing their ground for the Hennessy on Monday.
The shortest-priced Hennessy favourite in recent years was the mighty Denman, who scored his second triumph in the race at 11-4 in 2009.
The last eight winners of the Hennessey were officially rated 145 or more, (favourite Djakadam is rated 142) while all eight had their last run at Cheltenham in the previous seasons RSA (Smad Place, Annacotty, Many Clouds and Black Thunder) or appeared at The Open meeting (The Druids Nephew), while an appearance, earlier in the year at the Grand National Festival have produced two winners, with the United House Gold Cup at Ascot this month have thrown up two more winners, Dan Skeltons’ What A Warrior, Black Thunder and Merry King still hold entries in the big race.
Trainers with success in the race include Nicky Henderson (two wins, three places), Paul Nicholls (two wins, five places), David Pipe (one win, three places) while the in form Phillip Hobbs yard have had three placed horses in recent years.
Hobbs sent out his 11th winner in as many days on Monday and the trainer is hopeful about the chances of his Fingal Bay.
A total of 23 remain in the weekend feature for which Fingal Bay can be backed at 8-1 to give the trainer a second win in the race having been successful with What’s Up Boys in 2001.
How Smad Place performs on his seasonal debut will be of interest, while Ballynagour, What A Warrior and Merry King could well reward their each way backers.
You can access RacingFM through your desktop, smart phone and tablet as well as WIFI radios