Mike Cattermole: Hen pecked
Mike Cattermole looks at the future for the Hennessy, the action at Sandown and more in his latest column.
Native River: The last winner of the Hennessy as we know it
Newbury set to take on BHA to save Hennessy
Stand by for an almighty row if we hear soon that Ladbrokes will be stepping in as the new sponsor of the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury.
This is a metaphoric two fingers being raised to the BHA's Approved Betting Partners policy by both Newbury racecourse and Ladbrokes who, while merging with Coral, have made no secret of their difficulty in coming to an agreement with the BHA over giving a percentage of their on-line turnover to the sport.
There will be strong words of disapproval from the BHA and the Horsemen's Group at this "breaking of ranks", even though the ABP agreement has not been universally accepted. Philip Freedman, chairman of the HG, has spoken of the "possibility of legal proceedings" but I am not sure how that would work.
Ladbrokes/Coral might be getting ready to pump huge amounts into this great race and who would object to that?
As an independent racecourse – it is neither a Jockey Club Racecourse, nor a member of ARC – Newbury is flexing its new-found muscles here after a difficult few years.
Newbury is a very different place these days with a new, huge housing development enveloping the course's infrastructure. It may not be to the tastes of some but it is hard to argue that the development has not been done well and with great efficiency and it means that Newbury's financial future is secure.
What about the future of the new Hennessy? Well, let's first hope that the Hennessy name is retained to give it its correct historical perspective. After all, Mandarin who won the first running at Cheltenham in 1957, was owned by Peggy Hennessy, a member of the sponsor's family and of course her wonderful chaser won it again in 1961 after the race had been transferred to Newbury.
Just remember what happened to the Whitbread Gold Cup. The race's status, since the brewery pulled out in 2001, is much reduced these days because it simply lost its identity.
I touched on the Hennessy Gold Cup in this column two weeks ago and commented on the lack of Irish-trained runners in the race over the years and why it should be addressed.
If Ladbrokes did step on board, I would imagine that they would be doing their best to address that issue.
Let's see what happens and see what the package is, although it could be that any announcement may not be made until we know more about racing's new funding mechanism to replace the levy, and the BHA hope to have that in place by April.
Chasing at its best
I love racing at Sandown Park. All year round, it offers a superb spectacle with the stand perched on top of the hill, which allows brilliant visibility, the stiff uphill climb, which can produce great finishes and, at this time of the year, those famous fences down the back straight. Spine-tingling stuff.
All it needs is a much-needed revamp of the stands to bring the tired-looking facilities up to date and let's hope that is done sooner rather than later.
Once again, the place was buzzing last weekend with Un De Sceaux and Sire De Grugy raising the roof in the Tingle Creek, while Altior is shaping as the heir apparent to Sprinter Sacre, although his time was 2.75 seconds slower than the Tingle Creek in the novice chase.
Year after year, Nicky Henderson just keeps finding them, the conveyor belt at Seven Barrows is still churning out the stars. And I was also much taken with his Josses Hill in Sunday's Peterborough Chase at Huntingdon. He was brilliant in beating up a high-class field and is now getting his act together over the larger obstacles.
He certainly does things his way and ballooned a few in the early stages but he finished off full of running and I think it is a shame that Nicky didn't enter him in the King George.
Having run well at two Festivals in the Supreme Novices and Arkle, there is no reason why he shouldn't be taken very seriously as a Ryanair Chase contender next March. You just feel that there is also much more to come from this handsome chaser.
Channel 4 wrap party
It must have been a bitter blow to C4 to let the coverage of horse racing slip through its grasp after so many years but at least the channel acknowledged the end of an important era last week by staging a "wrap party" at their Horseferry Road headquarters.
I was invited but couldn't make it as I was at the Intercontinental Hotel preparing to co-host the ROA Awards dinner with Nick Luck, who did manage to pop in and show his face. Rightly so, as he will be there when C4 signs off.
I was, however, more than dismayed to hear that Andrew Franklin and John Fairley, the executive producers of the coverage under their Highflyer Productions for almost three decades, did not make it onto the invitation list. Yes, hard to believe, I know.
Highflyer WAS C4 Racing and it was they who delivered the viewing figures and won the numerous BAFTAS and Royal Television Society Awards. Sure, things got rather tetchy and harsh words were spoken when the contract was taken away from them and handed to IMG. But that's life, things can get emotional.
However, to then hear that Highflyer didn't even merit a mention during various speeches by the C4 top brass, showed that feelings are still raw, even four years on.
Klopp is different class
Compare that sort of behaviour to one Jurgen Klopp, who once again showed at the weekend what a welcome addition he is to the Premier League.
Having seen his Liverpool side blow a 3-1 lead at Bournemouth with 15 minutes to spare and lose the match, he would have had every right to throw a wobbly and charge down the tunnel without shaking Eddie Howe's hand.
What did he do? He came onto the pitch and sought out some of the Bournemouth players, which included Jordan Ibe, a player he had released, and congratulated them personally.
Some managers wouldn't even have bothered showing up at the press conference. Show up he did of course, and wasted no time in congratulating Bournemouth: "First of all you have to say I think a deserved win for Bournemouth and congratulations to them for this big fight and what they delivered today.
"It's a wonderful story if you're not on the wrong side. Today we were on the wrong side and we have to accept and learn from it. It's an experience that nobody wants but no way is without rocks or stones."
Imagine playing for a manager like Klopp and contrast it with the whingeing and complaining of one Jose Mourinho who seems to be living on a different and very unpleasant planet these days.
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