The National Hunt season is now well under way and the next significant stop on the calendar is the Hennessy Gold Cup Chase at Newbury, live this Saturday on Channel 4 Racing.
Run over 3 miles and 2½ furlong with 21 fences, the prestigious Newbury showpiece is one of racing’s biggest tests for horse and jockey and has been won by many of racing’s best loved stars including Mandarin, Arkle and Denman.
The Hennessy Gold Cup is the stand-oout highlight of a bumper three-day bet365 Hennessy Festival meeting at Newbury Racecourse, which runs from November 27-29.
Initially staged at Cheltenham in 1957, the very first edition of this famous race was won by Mandarin, owned by Peggy Hennessy, a member of the family which founded Hennessy, the race’s sponsoring company, with the horse winning again in 1961 when the race was staged at Newbury for the second time.
In 1962, the race was won by Taxidermist ridden by the amateur rider John Lawrence, later Lord Oaksey and former member of the Channel 4 Racing team, who was the breeder and part-owner of the 2011 winner, Carruthers.
The race’s association with Hennessy has continued throughout its history, representing British racing’s longest commercial sponsorship, and eight horses who have won the Hennessy also went on to achieve victory in the blue-ribband Cheltenham Gold Cup later in the season, with the most recent of these is the 2013 winner Bobs Worth, trained by Nicky Henderson.
One of racing’s most prestigious and anticipated events, the £175,000 Hennessy Gold Cup has established itself as the leading handicap chase in the jumps calendar having been won by such giants as Mill House, Arkle, and in more recent times Denman and Bobsworth.
This year’s renewal of the race marks 50 years since the legendary Arkle recorded his first of two victories in the Hennessy Gold Cup, an anniversary which will be marked on race day itself.
Widely recognised as one of the greatest steeplechasers to have ever graced the turf, Arkle’s dominance of the chasing division in the 1960s made him a household name and even led to him receiving gifts and fan mail from his adoring supporters simply addressed to “Arkle, Ireland”.
His greatest rival on the track was the Fulke Walywn-trained Mill House, who was one of only six horses to beat him over fences, and they first
came across each other in the 1963 Hennessy Gold Cup, where Arkle was beaten into third after slipping at the third last fence.
Arkle made amends by winning the next two renewals of the Hennessy Gold Cup, as well as triumphing in a collection of other top chasing prizes throughout an illustrious career.
Last year’s Hennessy produced a close finish with the Nicky Henderson-trained Triolo d’Alene (pictured left) outpacing Rocky Creek to land the big prize at Newbury.
The 20-1 chance gave jockey Barry Geraghty his second straight win in the race after riding Bobs Worth to victory in 2012, with the six-year-old fighting off Paul Nicholls’s 8-1 shot to win by almost three lengths for Henderson’s third Hennessy victory overall.
Having just recently come back from an injury lay-off, Champion jockey AP McCoy is hoping to claim victory in this year’s contest, though 2012 and 2013 title holders in Henderson and Geraghty will be aiming for a hat trick.
Find out who triumphs this year in the 2014 Hennessy Gold Cup Chase by watching all the action live on Channel 4 Racing.
Channel 4 Racing will be the place to watch live coverage of Hennessy Gold Cup Day at Newbury as the jumps season continues apace with one of the highlights on the racing calendar.
All the must-see action from Hennessy Gold Cup Day starts at 1.20pm with Clare Balding anchoring the afternoon’s live coverage which takes in four races from Newbury, including the Gold Cup Chase at 3.00pm, plus two more races from Newcastle with the Fighting Fifth Hurdle at 2.05pm a major pointer for next year’s Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham.
Analysis and comment on all the big races from the studio overlooking the course is led by Nick Luck alongside Jim McGrath and Graham Cunningham, plus Rishi Persad and Mick Fitzgerald provide on-course reports and interviews.
Tanya Stevenson will have all the latest news and views from the Newbury betting ring; while Simon Holt provides commentary on all of Channel 4’s live races from Newbury.
In addition to the live action on Saturdays, Channel 4’s weekly morning preview show The Morning Line, hosted by Nick Luck on Saturday at 7.55am, will provide all the news and tips ahead of a top day’s jumps racing.
Commenting on the Hennessy’s importance on the jump racing calendar, Channel 4 commentator Mick Fitzgerald said: “It is huge. Anybody speaking to AP McCoy will tell you that it’s the one race he’s missing from his CV.
“Even now, when he’s signed himself off with injury, his ultimate target is to come back for the Hennessy. Normally he has to go to Newcastle to ride in the Fighting Fifth which he’s done for the last few years, but this year he looks like he’s got a real chance to go and bag the Hennessy [on Jonjo O’Neill’s Merry King] so he’s really keen to go and add it to his CV.
“It’s been won by Cheltenham Gold Cup winners in the past and horses of real distinction. At the end of your career, when you turn round and say ‘these are the races I’ve won’, if you’ve won the Hennessy it’s at the top of the list, it goes alongside races like the King George, the Gold Cup, and the Grand National.
“It’s a race of huge prestige which has been in the calendar for a long time and if you tell someone you’ve won the Hennessy they know what you’re talking about.
In addition to Channel 4’s free-to-air coverage, dedicated racing channel Racing UK will also be screening live coverage every race from Newbury across the entire bet365 Hennessy Festival, which runs from Thursday to Saturday, November 28-30.
Saturday 29th November
The Morning Line
Preview: 7.55am-9.00am Channel 4
Channel 4 Racing: Newbury & Newcastle
LIVE: 1.25pm-4.00pm Channel 4
.C4 Race Card 1:50 Newbury – bet365 Handicap Hurdle 2:05 Newcastle – StanJames.com Fighting Fifth Hurdle 2:25 Newbury – bet365 Long Distance Hurdle 2:40 Newcastle – At The Races Rehearsal Chase 3:00 Newbury – Hennessy Gold Cup Chase 3:35 Newbury – bet365 Handicap Chase