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In the Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup it generally pays to look for a young, unexposed chaser. Strong Flow last year was a great example. The six year old destroyed a field of seasoned horses by 14 lengths.
It is difficult, however, to find a similar future star in this race. Ante-post favourite Celestial Gold is a known quantity having hacked up in the Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham, and no horse has come on from winning that race to taking the laurels here since Bright Highway in 1980.
Ollie Magern looks a fine prospect and the tactics of jockey Carl Llewellyn in the Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham last time were idiosyncratic. He could turn the tables on Celestial Gold, but again there is no reason to back a horse that lost to a rival from the novice ranks. Lord Transcend has a huge reputation and may be a blot on the handicap but there is better value elsewhere.
This may well be a year when the Hennessy goes to known quantity. Top weight First Gold looks a half- decent bet at long-odds, but Frenchman's Creek may yet have more improvement in him. Though it is difficult to think a 10 year old can win a Hennessy, the CV of this horse makes compelling reading.
When he won the William Hill National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham in 2002, Frenchman's looked like he could lay a claim to the Gold Cup, only for injury to rob him of his chance the following year. Frenchman's Creek was 16 lengths away from Best Mate on his comeback this month, but on song is well worth a place in a below-par Hennessy field.
The next race on Newbury's card sees Spring Margot running soon after a victory at Sandown. This horse was rated by owner Sir Robert Ogden as his best novice prior to injury, and could yet make a classy chaser.
The "Fighting Fifth" Hurdle at Newcastle is a good enough race to have produced a couple of Champion Hurdle winners. This looks an average renewal but Harchibald and his peerless jockey Paul Carberry look value to beat Intersky Falcon.
2:40 Newbury: Frenchman's Creek (each-way)
3:00 Newcastle: Harchibald (win)
3:15 Newbury: Spring Margot (win)