Sport : Horse Racing

Port and Bay head Hennessy weights

14th November 2012, 04:26pm

Tidal Bay: Heads the weights for the Hennessy Gold Cup

Tidal Bay: Heads the weights for the Hennessy Gold Cup

Burton Port and Tidal Bay have been allotted joint top-weight of 11st 12lb in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury on December 1.

Nicky Henderson's Burton Port finished fourth in the Gold Cup in March and was second to Follow The Plan in the Betfred Bowl at Aintree the following month.

Stablemate Bobs Worth is the clear ante-post favourite at 5-1 with Sportingbet to win the 56th running of the leading pre-Christmas staying handicap steeplechase.

A classy seven-year-old, the gelding - who will be bidding to give his Lambourn handler a second winner of the race following the success of Trabolgan in 2005 - has been allotted a weight of 11st 6lb.

The winner of a four-runner novice chase at the course last year, Bobs Worth has only had four races over fences but underlined his potential with success in the RSA Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.

"He has the same profile as Trabolgan in that he's a young horse coming through and this will be his first test against the older horses.' said Henderson, whose three other entries in the race include Roberto Goldback, impressive when winning at Ascot at the beginning of the month and handicapped on 11st 8lb.

The Paul Nicholls-trained Tidal Bay signed off last season with a popular win in the Bet365 Gold Cup and showed his fire still burned bright by winning the John Smith's Hurdle at Wetherby on his reappearance.

Tidal Bay's high rating came as no surprise to the champion trainer: "It takes a while to work them out sometimes and we've tried a few different things with him at home, but we think we've got the measure of him now' said Nicholls, who won the Hennessy twice as a jockey and three times as a trainer with Strong Flow in 2003 and Denman in 2007 and again in 2009.

Harry The Viking, part-owned by Sir Alex Ferguson, is likely to be Nicholls' other representative.

Ballabriggs, winner of the 2011 John Smith's Grand National will carry 11st 2lb if given the green light to run by trainer Donald McCain whose other entry Weird Al has 11st 10lb.

With 10st 7lb, last year's Hennessy hero Carruthers has 3lb more to shoulder this time round, while Diamond Harry, who etched his name on the coveted trophy with a thrilling one and a quarter lengths victory under 10st two years ago, has had his weight increased by the same amount.

British Horseracing Authority senior handicapper, Phil Smith, was among guests at a special lunch held to announce the Hennessy weights in Newbury's Royal Box today. He said, "When looking at Bobs Worth the key horse in the race is First Lieutenant who he beat in the RSA Chase. I had to give him more for that and so I was stuck on 160 with him.

"It is much easier when you don't have a Denman in the race running off 174, but it's worth remembering that he won his first Hennessy off a mark of 161. If Bobs Worth wins the Hennessy off a mark of 160 he's definitely a potential Gold Cup winner."

There was speculation that Grands Crus could run in the Gold Cup as a novice last season but David Pipe's grey ran in the RSA Chase where he finished fourth.

He is the red-hot favourite for the Paddy Power Gold Cup this weekend but has been allotted 11st 3lb for the Newbury contest and Pipe nearly pulled off the double with Great Endeavour last season.


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