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Hobbs has faith in Hennessey hope
24 Nov 2014 18:06
Philip Hobbs is not concerned about any of the other runners in Saturday's Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury as he prepares Fingal Bay for the big race on a "workable mark".
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Hobbs last took the prize in 2001 when What's Up Boys touched off Behrajan, but he has had this race as a target for Fingal Bay for some time.
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After his novice chase season was cut short by injury, Hobbs brought him back to top form to win the Pertemps Final at Cheltenham last season and while he does not think his hope has been given an easy task by the handicapper, he still feels there is room for manoeuvre.
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"He's in very good order and he is just a high-class horse. To win a race off top weight at the Cheltenham Festival proved that," said Hobbs.
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"This has been the target for a long time and I haven't even looked at the other entries, so I can't say who I fear at this stage.
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"I don't think the handicapper has been particularly lenient, but he's on a workable mark.
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"I'm not in the slightest bit concerned about the ground. Soft would be grand and although you never really want heavy, he would cope with it better than most."
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Champion trainer Paul Nicholls has left in three at the five-day stage, but his main chance looks to be last year's runner-up Rocky Creek.
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He also finished fifth in the Grand National last season and was second in Road To Riches on his comeback in Grade One company at Down Royal.
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Nicholls could also run Black Thunder and Unioniste.
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He said: "Rocky Creek has done well since Down Royal and the run certainly won't be lost on him. He'll improve again and the soft ground will be ideal.
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"He ran very well in the Hennessy last year and has strengthened up since then. He had some good Grade One form last season, but he was quite difficult to get right at times."
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Of his other two contenders, Nicholls added: "Black Thunder had a fairly hard race at Ascot earlier this month and we'll make a decision on whether he runs later in the week.
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"There's an option to go to Sandown the following weekend and we'll just have to see how the race looks."
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Willie Mullins' Djakadam could have been backed at 10-1 when betting opened for the race, but is now no bigger than 9-2.
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Only a five-year-old, he fell at the Cheltenham Festival in the JLT Novices' Chase and is one of 23 confirmations.
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Also prominent in the betting on the historic handicap is the Oliver Sherwood-trained Many Clouds.
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Sherwood won the race with Arctic Call in 1990.
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Last year's winner Triolo D'Alene looks set to return for Nicky Henderson, while Alan King can call on RSA Chase runner-up Smad Place.
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