Destination Newbury will be the target for many racegoers this weekend with the Bet365 Hennessy the highlight of a cracking card at Berkshire track. The racecourse itself has undergone many renovations over the years but the tradition of the big race remains.
This year the weights are headed now by Saphir De Rheu following the defection of Coneygree, something I am sure he is pleased about as Coneygree jumped him onto the floor twice early on last season he found his stride and signed off in impressive fashion at Aintree.
Saphir clearly has Gold Cup aspirations but top weight against a star studded field will be some ask so early on in his chasing career and he will no doubt get the Denman comparisons should he pull it off.
In opposition is previous Hennessy and Gold Cup winner Bob's Worth who had been a bit out of form since, he was resurgent at Aintree last time outstaying classy stablemate Simonsig. Nico De Boinville has picked up the ride with the defection of Coneygree and he has every chance off his current handicap mark of visiting the winners circle once again.
There is a lack of a top class Irish challenger considering the wealth of talent they have in their ranks in the chasing division with Valseur Lido and Vroom Vroom Mag both missing the race and this race is best left to the flying grey that is Smad Place.
For a while now he has been one of the class horses in Alan Kings yard having finished like Saphir De Rheu placed in a World Hurdle at the festival. having madea decent start to his career over fences he was runner up two seasons ago in the RSA and following a fair but ultimately disappointing season last year he was sent for a wind operation.
This season he reappeared at Kempton conceding weight to a good horse in festival winner Fingal Bay. Making his own running he produced an exemplary round of jumping before quickening away from the back of the second last to win by an impressive 8 lengths at the line, teeing himself up perfectly for his early season target.
Alan King a few years back learned a valuable lesson by coming here without a prep race and Smad Place can put the memory of the ill fated Invictus to bed here with another sparkling performance from this galloping grey.