Sportsman Racing: Great Expectations In Hennessy

Welcome to our latest column from Scott Armstrong of The Sportsman tipster service.

Each Friday, Scott provides us with a rundown of all the best weekend racing action – including the key  horses to follow and those to oppose. You can also find a recap from him each Monday on the SBC Blog with his reaction to the weekend’s events. Thorough, frank and not afraid to take a contrary view, Scott Armstrong is a racing man whose opinion you can’t afford to be without.

Saturday witnesses one of the best races in the National Hunt calendar, The Hennessy Gold Cup over three-mile-two-furlongs at Haydock while at Newcastle the Fighting Fifth pays welcome to the return of Nicky Henderson’s Binocular.

Other equine stars running at the weekend are Big Bucks in the Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury and Peddlers Cross in a novice chase at Bangor though short prices will be the order of the day for those two.

Aiteenthirtythree with Ruby Walsh on board is shading market favouritism for the Hennessy at 11-2 in front of Great Endeavour and Wymott. The Hennessy has been a long term aim for Paul Nicholls’ charge and the Master of Ditcheat has a fine record in the race having won the event three times in the last ten years. Aiteenthirtythree has a great record at the Newbury track, successful on the last two occasions he has run there and will love the strong pace. Pin-fired after his final outing last term the concern at the price on offer is the seven-year-old has largely been winning in small fields and this race will be a different kettle of fish with eighteen horses set to go to post.

Second favourite is David Pipe’s Great Endeavour at 13-2. The seven-year-old gelding has taken rank as one of the top two and a half mile chasers following his win in the Paddy Power. The question is will he last home with his trainer himself saying “3m 2f might be a bit far”. The speed he showed in the aforementioned Paddy Power at Cheltenham is a worry over the longer distance yet his best run over hurdles came over the 3m 2f trip at Cheltenham in 2009 when third in a Listed event. I’m inclined to risk Great Endeavour having the engine to last out stamina wise and back him to obtain the big-race double. Continue reading