Denman’s Bid To Surpass Hennessy Gold Cup Records In 2011
September 21, 2011 Leave a comment
Without question, the Grade Three Hennessy Gold Cup is one of the most eagerly anticipated races of the National Hunt season. First run in 1957, the race is run over 3 miles and 2½ furlongs and over 21 fences at Newbury racecourse, at the end of November each year.
It is a handicap race but one that often encourages trainers to run their Grade One winners in due to the importance of the race in establishing great champions. There have been several top rated horses who have tried their luck carrying top weight around a very difficult, testing track but not all are good enough. Those that have been down the years include the likes of Arkle, who won the race twice in 1964 and 1965 and who of course went on to claim three Cheltenham Gold Cups and an Irish Grand National during that same time frame. Mill House, won in 1963 before going on to claim his one and only Cheltenham Gold Cup. Burrough Hill Lad, trained by Jenny Pitman also won the ‘Hennessy’ as well as the ‘Gold Cup’ while One Man won the Hennessy and the Queen Mother Champion Chase as well as the King George Chase.
The most recent Cheltenham Gold Cup winner to have won the Hennessy Gold Cup is Denman, who, like Arkle, won the race twice with the Paul Nichols star winning in 2007 and 2009 and who won the Gold Cup in the intervening year of 2008. Denman also finished third last year and will be taking his chance again for the last time in November and if he was to win the race for a third time, he’d break all previous records.
Denman and Arkle in fact are two of only three horses to have more than one win in the race, the other is Mandarin who incredibly won the inaugural race in 1957 and then four years later in 1961. Mandarin’s jockey in the 1961 victory, Willie Robinson in fact is the only jockey to have won the race three times, he also rode Mill House to success as well as Man Of The West in 1968.
Fulke Walwyn, trainer of all three of Robinson success’s also trained four other winners of the race and thus holds the trainers record of seven wins a record that might never be beaten.
The race was originally staged at Cheltenham, before moving to Newbury Racecourse in 1960. The sponsors Hennessy have maintained their association and sponsorship of the race from the very first year, which has now formed a partnership that represents the longest ever commercial sponsorship of a horse race. The first winner, Mandarin was in fact owned by Peggy Hennessy a member of the family. The family also sponsor the Irish Hennessy Gold Cup which takes place at Leopardstown each February.
Apart from Denman, the likely market leaders for this year’s race include the Paul Webber trained, Time For Rupert, whose most notable performance came when he finished second to Big Bucks in the World Hurdle in 2010. He has adjusted to chasing very well but ran when slightly injured last time when he went off as the 7/4 favourite to win the Grade 1 RSA Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March. There is also the likelihood that the Colm Murphy good thing, Quito de la Roque, winner of his last four starts over fences, three at Grade 2 level plus the prestigious Grade 1 Champion Novice Chase at the Punchestown Festival back in May. Diamond Harry, winner 12 months ago will also take his place in the field.