Newbury 27 November 2010

Hennessy Gold Cup Day


Newbury 27 Nov 2010 Dona r.jpg

Newbury 27 Nov 2010 Binocular r.jpg

Travelling Head Person Matt Howells

unsaddles the Alan King trained Dona

who finished 3rd in the Novices’ Hurdle

 Nicky Henderson trained Binocular

ahead of the Fighting Fifth Hurdle

Newbury 27 Nov 2010 Peddlers Cross r.jpg

Newbury 27 Nov 2010 Starluck r.jpg

Donald McCain Junior trained Peddlers Cross

ahead of the Fighting Fifth Hurdle

 Alan Fleming trained Starluck

ahead of the Fighting Fifth Hurdle

Newbury 27 Nov 2010 Peddlers Cross 2 r.jpg

Newbury 27 Nov 2010 Rustarix r.jpg

Peddlers Cross ridden by Jason Maguire

returns to the Winners’ Enclosure

having won the Fighting Fifth Hurdle

Alan King trained Rustarix in the

Parade Ring prior to the

Amateur Riders’ Handicap Steeplechase

Newbury 27 Nov 2010 Stoney's Treasure r.jpg

Newbury 27 Nov 2010 Stoney's Treasure 2 r.jpg

 Alan King trained Stoney’s Treasure

in the Parade Ring prior to the

Novices’ Handicap Steeplechase

In the Winners’ Enclosure,

Stoney’s Treasure having finished 4th.

Newbury 27 Nov 2010 Betchworth Kid r.jpg

Newbury 27 Nov 2010 Big Buck's r.jpg

The Alan King trained The Betchworth Kid

in the Parade Ring prior to the

Intermediate Limited Handicap

Hurdle Race (the Gerry Feilden)

Big Buck’s in the Parade Ring

prior to the Long Distance Hurdle

Newbury 27 Nov 2010 Big Buck's 2 r.jpg

Newbury 27 Nov 2010 Denman r.jpg

 Big Buck’s and AP McCoy return

to the Winners’ Enclosure having

won the Long Distance Hurdle

Denman in the Parade Ring

prior to the Hennessy Gold Cup

Newbury 27 Nov 2010 Weird Al r.jpg

Newbury 27 Nov 2010 Denman & DH r.jpg

Weird Al in the Parade Ring prior

to the Hennessy Gold Cup

 Denman ridden by Sam Thomas

and Diamond Harry ridden by

Daryl Jacob in the Parade Ring

Newbury 27 Nov 2010 Neptune Collonges r.jpg

Newbury 27 Nov 2010 Burton Port r.jpg

Left to Right:

Big Fella Thanks (Graham Lee)

Neptune Collonges (AP McCoy)

The Tother One (Mr R Mahon)

 Burton Port ridden by Barry Geraghty

return to the Winners’ Enclosure

having finished 2nd

Newbury 27 Nov 2010 Denman 2 r.jpg

Newbury 27 Nov 2010 Diamond Harry r.jpg

Denman is unsaddled having

finished 3rd in the

Hennessy Gold Cup

 Diamond Harry ridden by

Daryl Jacob return having

won the Hennessy Gold Cup

Diamond Harry Hennessy 2010 r 2.jpg

Newbury 27 Nov 2010 Diamond Harry 3 r.jpg

Diamond Harry and Daryl Jacob

 Diamond Harry

Newbury 27 Nov 2010 Denman 4 r.jpg

Newbury 27 Nov 2010 Diamond Harry 4 r.jpg

 Denman receives applause

before exiting the Paddock

Diamond Harry receives applause

before exiting the Paddock

Newbury 27 Nov 2010 Prizes Hennessy r.jpg

The prizes are awarded –

trainer Nick Williams 4th from left




Unusually, the weather for the Newbury Winter Festival on the last Thursday, Friday and Saturday of the month was freezing cold but dry, not dank as would be expected for the end of November.  With cold winds blowing in from a north-easterly direction, snow had arrived further north to cause the abandonment of the Newcastle fixture, which was to have featured the Fighting Fifth Hurdle. 


As I still had a number of days holiday to take before the end of the year, I booked all three days as holiday, intending to watch the first two days on TV, and purchasing a ‘Grandstand’ ticket to attend Hennessy Gold Cup day on the Saturday.  Fortunately snow did not arrive in Berkshire, and the course deployed frost covers overnight and thus managed to save all three days of their fixture. 


Noel Fehily had been appointed to act as Paul Nicholls’ stable jockey in the absence of Ruby Walsh, the latter having broken his leg in a racing accident at Down Royal earlier in the month.  However, misfortune also befell Noel when he suffered a suspected broken wrist during a fall from Rivaliste on the middle day of this fixture.  It later transpired that Noel’s wrist was ‘only’ dislocated(!) so his subsequent period of absence was reduced considerably. 


With Noel also on the sidelines, AP McCoy took over the rides aboard Big Buck’s and Neptune Collonges on Saturday, enabled by the fact that he no longer had to travel to Newcastle for the Fighting Fifth Hurdle which, as a bonus, had been transferred to the Hennessy card.  The day would be very good value for money, with 8 races, the off time for the first race being 11:55.


Originally I’d intended to leave for the races at around 08:00.  However, as it was so cold outside I decided to watch the first half hour of Channel 4’s The Morning Line before setting off.  This also permitted me to check that the fixture would be going ahead as planned.  I wrapped up with lots of layers – long sleeved thermal vest, short sleeved thermal vest, turquoise tunic top, purple fleece, purple cardigan, turquoise gillet fleece, green ‘heavyweight’ fleece, thermal tights, socks and grey treggings.  I also took my flat lace-up long boots, and black faux sheepskin coat.   And my hat and gloves of course.


Having previously experienced traffic problems within the local M25 contra-flow system, I decided to join the motorway at junction 19, then drove around to the M4, taking the westbound carriageway.  There were a few very light snow flurries as I drove through the Windsor/Slough area.  I left the motorway at the Reading West junction; the final leg of my journey being westwards along the A4 to Newbury.


Upon reaching the road along the perimeter of the racecourse, I headed through the industrial estate, noting that the huge potholes at the far end of the lane, which had existed during my previous visits, had finally been repaired.  Under the railway bridge, turning right and entering through the gates, then up the driveway to the Golf Club, taking a left past the Health Club and into the car park.  It was 10:00 when I arrived.


Having purchased a ticket via the Newbury racecourse website, I headed for the turnstiles to be ‘scanned in’.  The guy in front of me in the queue joked about having a problem getting through the turnstiles as he was wearing so many layers of clothes!  Not surprisingly, I wasn’t much better at squeezing through either! 


After a quick visit to the loo within the Dubai Duty Free grandstand, I set off for the Parade Ring area. 


Prior to the first race of the day, Racing UK’s Nick Luck was joined by Mick Fitzgerald and Love the Races’ Rosella Short.   (Not surprisingly, I like this video from Kempton Park better ... More)


Before the horses entered the Parade Ring ahead of the first race, two previous winners of the Hennessy Gold Cup were paraded – Gingembre (2002) and Strong Flow (2003) – the former being awarded the race in the Stewards’ Room. 


Newbury were organising various race-goer related activities, including a visit to the Weighing Room and, later in the afternoon, a visit to the start for race 4. 


During the afternoon, and amongst others, Jilly Cooper was on hand to sign copies of her new book ‘Jump’, as was Ruby Walsh to sign copies of his biography.


As mentioned earlier, there were 8 races today, and this is how they all panned out:


Race 1 was a 2 miles ½ furlong Novices’ Hurdle.  Two of the northern based jockeys, Brian Hughes and Graham Lee, got held up in the race-day traffic and had to be replaced aboard their prospective mounts.  Richard Johnson took the ride aboard the Dr Newland trained Act of Kalanisi, and Liam Treadwell substituted aboard the Lady Herries trained Opera King.  Alan King had a runner in this race, Dona, ridden by Wayne Hutchinson and he started as the favourite. 


Having been handy throughout the race, Richard Johnson sent Act of Kalanisi into the lead approaching 3 flights out and, despite being headed by the Nicky Henderson trained and Barry Geraghty ridden Secret World over the last, his mount rallied to regain the lead and win by ¾ of a length.  Both the winner and the runner-up had been campaigned on the flat at the start of their careers, Act of Kalanisi being a confirmed stayer in handicaps up to 2¼ miles, whereas Secret World participated in races over a maximum of 9 furlongs.  Stamina had prevailed.  Dona finished in 3rd place.


Race 2 was the re-located Fighting Fifth Hurdle, featuring the 2010 Champion Hurdler Binocular; the very talented Peddlers Cross, winner of the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle at this year’s Festival; and Starluck.  The other runners in the 5 horse field were Bygones of Brid and Nearby.


The front running Bygones of Brid led the field until the 3rd last, Peddlers Cross taking over and going on to win by 1¼ lengths.  Binocular looked booked for 2nd until caught on the run-in by Starluck.


Race 3 was an Amateur Riders’ Handicap Chase run over 3 miles 2½ furlongs, the same distance as the Hennessy Gold Cup.  Alan King had a runner in this race, the recent Cheltenham winner Rustarix, ridden by Mr J Banks.  However, having appeared to clear the 13th obstacle without incident, his jockey was unseated; Scots Dragoon unseating at the next.  The winner was the Kim Bailey trained Sarde, ridden by Charlie Greene.


Race 4 was a Novices’ Handicap Chase run over 2 miles 6½ furlongs; another victory for the Kim Bailey yard with the Sean Quinlan ridden Regal Approach.  However, the horse just held on by a neck from In The Zone, Sean receiving an eight day suspension for misuse of his whip.  The Alan King trained, Wayne Hutchinson ridden, Stoney’s Treasure finished 4th, Alan later saying that the horse probably needed further.


Race 5 was an Intermediate Limited Handicap Hurdle (formerly known as The Gerry Feilden Hurdle and re-categorised too) over 2 miles and ½ a furlong.  Alan King’s runner, The Betchworth Kid, ran well to finish 4th.  The winner was the Emma Lavelle trained Tocca Ferro ridden by Sam Thomas.  Emma’s stable jockey, Jack Doyle, currently on the sidelines due to a broken right leg (in fact an identical injury to Ruby’s) was in the Parade Ring on crutches!


Race 6 was the Long Distance Hurdle run over 3 miles and ½ a furlong.  There were 6 runners and, not surprisingly, the race was won by the 2-7 on favourite Big Buck’s.  Never winning by any great distance, he triumphed by 3 lengths over Duc De Regniere, Arcalis and Duke of Lucca.  Big Buck’s is now unbeaten for two years.  Celestial Halo, who runs in the same Stewart family colours, had a second unsuccessful outing over the larger obstacles the previous day, and was expected to return to hurdling, being stepped up in distance to this category.


Race 7 was the feature event, the Hennessy Gold Cup, its 54th renewal, and 51st run at Newbury (the first being run at Cheltenham in 1957).   This year there were 18 runners, the Sam Thomas ridden Denman carrying top weight on 11 stone 12 lbs; only 3 of his rivals were ‘in’ the handicap – Neptune Collonges (10 stone 8 lbs), Taranis (10 stone 4 lbs), and Madison Du Berlais (10 stone 1 lb).  Other runners included Niche Market, Weird Al, Burton Port, Diamond Harry, Barbers Shop, Big Fella Thanks and Dream Alliance.  Barry Geraghty put up one pound overweight aboard Burton Port; stable jockey Daryl Jacob taking over the ride from Timmy Murphy aboard the Nick Williams trained Diamond Harry. 


Surprisingly there were a number of early casualties – the now Ferdy Murphy trained Big Fella Thanks falling at the 3rd fence, strange for a horse which has successfully completed the Grand National course on two occasions.  Madison Du Berlais, the 2008 Hennessy winner, fell at the 4th, bringing down the AP McCoy ridden Neptune Collonges; Pandorama was hampered in the incident, became tailed off, and was pulled up before the 7th fence. 


Denman was very gallant in defeat, finishing 3rd.  Diamond Harry, jumping far better than during his novice season last year, won by 1¼ lengths from the very genuine Burton Port. 


When he returned to the Winners’ Enclosure, Denman received as much applause as the winner did; and both Denman and Diamond Harry did a lap of honour around the Parade Ring before they returned to their boxes.  Nick Williams praised his wife Jane for doing all the hard work of training the horses whilst he merely decided which races their yard’s horses should compete in!


Race 8 was a 2 mile 4 furlong Handicap Chase and it was won by the Colin Tizzard trained Mount Oscar ridden by Sam Twiston-Davies, substituting for the suspended Joe Tizzard.  In second was Pasco, and third Piraya.  Coincidently, the same three horses had filled the first three places last year ... and in the same order too!  What are the odds of that happening?


Having seen the horses return to the Winners’ Enclosure following the final race of the day, I set off to collect my car from the car park.  My hands were so cold and I had a problem pressing the button on my key fob to open the car door!  Although only 16:00, a fair number of vehicles had left already, and the traffic was surprisingly light for Hennessy Gold Cup day.  On my visits to this fixture in 2008 and 2009 it had been a nightmare to get out of the car park.  However, I was able to join the queue exiting past the Golf Course Clubhouse with no obstruction from cars heading in the opposite direction to exit via the main gate.  Apart from some initial stop and starting as I drove through the Golf Club car park, the traffic moved freely to the far gate, and a steward waived the vehicles through the traffic light controlled bridge under the railway. 


Once through to the other side of the industrial estate, I turned right at the roundabout and joined the queue at the traffic lights before turning right onto the eastbound A4.  It was a queue free drive through Thatcham, and onwards to join the M4 at the Reading West Junction. 


I drove towards London, joining the M25 clockwise carriageway to return to Hertfordshire.  Fortunately there was no sign of snow, and the temperature was zero degrees when I arrived home at 18:00.  Time to get some tea before watching Strictly Come Dancing and then retiring to the warmth of my bed.  Brrrrr!!!






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