Coleman: Don’t rule out Upswing
Racing UK ambassador Aidan Coleman is looking forward to riding Upswing in Saturday's Hennessy Gold Cup.
Vyta Du Roc: Right profile for the Hennessy
I am getting down to 10st to ride Upswing in the Hennessy Gold Cup Chase – which is no real hardship given it's one of the big races of the season and it doesn't take too much effort.
He was fifth in the BetVictor Handicap Chase at The Open this month, a race he was second in 12 months earlier. He was wearing blinkers for the first time and put in a much-improved effort following on from when he was pulled up at Chepstow.
Unfortunately, he was involved in the chaos when a loose horse took out some of the field and left us badly hampered with a circuit to go. So on the back of that he ran well and definitely deserves to take his chance.
He is 3lb out of the handicap and this is one of the toughest and classiest handicaps to win, so I'm not necessarily expecting to win, but he could run well at a big price and pick up some prize-money.
My old friend Houblon Des Obeaux has finished second and ninth in the last two runnings, and it was only in February that he hosed up at the track in the Denman Chase. He's lower in the handicap now and will be staying on at the finish, but I just wonder whether the ground is soft enough for him.
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It's a really wide open race, but I'd expect Vyta Du Roc to run well. He clearly has class, as seen by his fifth in the RSA and Scottish National, and then got his eye in with a run over hurdles last time. Nicky Henderson has won this three times since 2005 and his main hope looks to have the ideal profile.
The opening race on the card is the Thoroughbred Breeders' Association Mares' Novices' Hurdle. Anthony Honeyball's Ms Parfois has a fair level of form, having finished seventh in the Listed mares' bumper at The Open – her first run for seven months. Clearly, this is a big ask on her first run over hurdles, but we're hoping she's up to this level.
Battle Born has had two years off following an easy win at Uttoxeter. I don't know why he was off but Charlie Longsdon gets his horses fit enough, it's just the lack of match practise which might tell in what is a very competitive Bet365 Handicap Hurdle, and he'll certainly come on for the run. That said, he's an interesting, unexposed contender, who is lurking at the bottom of the weights.
My final ride of the day is Fou Et Sage in the bet365 Handicap Chase. He had some nice form in France and made a pleasing debut for Harry Whittington at Wetherby a month ago. He could run well at a nice price.
Last Sunday, I won on Desert Sensation, who was apparently trading at 999-1 in-running on Betfair. I can't remember too many horses I've ridden who have looked to have held no chance but somehow he got up to win. Stow at Chepstow six years ago springs to mind, but not many others do.
I had ridden Desert Sensation on his previous run at Exeter and he finished strongly that day, but last Sunday the ground was softer which just slowed down all the horses in front of him that much more. He did slowly start to pick up three out and I thought I might sneak some prize-money or a place, but never thought I'd win. Winning like that doesn't give me any real extra thrill. A winner in itself gives me all the satisfaction I need; it doesn't matter how you get to the finishing line.
Looking back to the Betfair Chase, I reckon connections of Cue Card and Coneygree would have both been delighted with their runs, with Mark and Sue Bradstock confident that Coneygree will progress from that seasonal debut to gain revenge the next time they meet. I agree that it would be more closely matched, although I wouldn't want to call it.
As I had always suspected, the ground was too soft for non-runner Menorah so Richard Johnson replaced me on Coneygree. As I said in last week's column, it was just flattering to be asked even if I did end up on the bench.
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