If Ladbrokes did Cognac, it would probably be called Hennessy

The Hennessy, The Schweppes, The Whitbread and The Massey-Ferguson. Capital The. It’s a Proper Noun, It’s also a Proper Racing Name and as such should have a BHA rule. This should state that, if you sponsor a race for over thirty years and you haven’t gone bust, the race will always carry your brand. Not in that awful “registered as” contortion – which makes the whole racing industry so not “now”, but in a straightforward The Whitbread Gold Cup, sponsored by WhizzyBet.* But no, we must now remember it’s the Ladbrokes, until the BHA, Government, or some nameless quango, hack off the bookmakers’ lobby, and they withdraw. We won’t care though, because it will still be The Hennessy, only this time it will be sponsored by BettyWhiz.*.

*WhizzyBet and BettyWhiz are registered trademarks of The Raceweb Insouciant Corporation

  • Question 1. Where was the inaugural 1957 Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup first run? Cheltenham. The winner was Mandarin, who was owned by Peggy Hennessy. It didn’t arrive at Newbury until 1960,
  • Question 2: Who won the Hennessy in 1961 at Newbury? Mandarin again.
  • Question 3: What connects the 1958 winner and the 2011 winner? The answer is John Lawrence – later Lord Oaksey, who rode Taxidermist in ’58 and bred and part-owned Carruthers in 2011.
  • The race’s association with Hennessy continued until the 60th running, in 2016, and was British racing’s longest-running commercial sponsorship at the time. The record was previously held by the Whitbread Gold Cup, which was first run seven months before the “Hennessy”, and which was sponsored by Whitbread until 2001.
  • The race has been won by nine horses which have also won the Cheltenham Gold Cup. The most recent of these is Native River, the winner of the latter race in 2018.
  • Many Clouds became the first horse to win both the Hennessy Gold Cup and the Grand National, in 2014 and 2015 respectively.

Enough excitement – time for the tips today.

1:50 NEWBURY Get Your Ladbrokes £1 Free Bet Today Handicap Chase Cl2 (4yo+) 2m4f

OLDGRANGEWOOD for Dan Skelton had a decent (btn 3l) third at Aintree LTO – his first race since a wind-op. I marked him down as having an interesting and winnable mark. He’s not a regular visitor to the winner’s enclosure, but he looks like he might have some value. You will have to take GALA BALL‘s race fitness on trust, but he had a decent season last year, taking the Doom Bar here in March LTO. He loves Newbury and I might dutch the two for odds of around 7/2. (Dutching: the backing of multiple selections in the same event, with the stake split and placed in such a way so that whichever selection wins, an equal profit is made. If none of the selections wins, all stakes are lost.)
I shall also have a small e/w on SPIRITOFTHEGAMES, who is often value for a place. Dropped in class today and with the useful Bryony on board, he might even win!

2:25 NEWBURY Ladbrokes ‘Where The Nation Plays’ Novices’ Chase Registered As The Berkshire) (G2) Cl1 (4yo+) 2m4f

Colin Tizzard obviously thinks it’s time to revisit fencing with VISION DES FLOS, who he tried at Ffos Las in Oct ’18. There, his exuberance led to a “U” in his race-record. Colin’s picked a tough race to try for, and the outcome is going to prove critical for VdF’s future. CHAMP is the talking horse here, but I just wonder whether he might find this too sharp. BLACK OP made an impressive start to his Jumps campaign when running out an easy winner at Stratford last month. Any improvement will make odds of 9/2 look very big indeed.

3:00 NEWBURY Ladbrokes Long Distance Hurdle (G2) Cl1 (4yo+) 3m

It’s sad to say, but even if the real THISTLECRACK turns up, he still loses to the four-time 3m winning PAISLEY PARK, who goes well fresh, has ideal conditions, and absolutely ran away with the Cheltenham Stayers’ Hurdle. Has to be backed – and maybe one could do it with CHAMP in a double – if you fancied CHAMP that is.

3:35 NEWBURY Ladbrokes Handicap Hurdle Cl2 (4yo+ 0-145) 3m

BLACK BUBLE will benefit from the likely decent pace of this tough race and at an ever-shortening, 12/1 looks value He won three races last year, had a good pip-opener at Kempton LTO when coming fourth and he will enjoy the 24f trip with I expect some improvement in performance. It had been a while since CHAMPERS ON ICE had visited the winner’s enclosure – but he got the job done quite comfortably at Ffos Las LTO, despite an indifferent round of jumping. Lightly raced for a 9yo, he’s classy when at his best and at 14/1 and only 5lbs more on board, seems like value.

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