JOCKEY Barry Geraghty is concerned that soft ground could scupper Triolo D’Alene’s chances of winning back-to-back Hennessy Gold Cups at Newbury.
None other than the legendary Arkle was the last horse to manage the feat, although Denman did win twice with a year’s gap.
While Geraghty could not be happier with his mount, he feels the rain gods may have conspired against him.
In his At The Races blog, he said: “It’s not so much the 10lb rise that would concern me, it is more the ground, because last year it was good but it is sure to ride slower and that’s not ideal.
“The trip and the track aren’t a bother and Nicky Henderson has the horse buzzing. He went to Kempton last week for a sharpener and could not have been in better shape.
“I’m sure he’ll give a very good account and his form in France before he came to Seven Barrows was more than respectable on soft. But this is a mighty competitive race where you need all your ducks in a row.
“Most of them are, it’s just the ground that’s a concern.”
Meanwhile, Ruby Walsh thinks Djakadam has a “favourite’s chance” of creating history by becoming the first five-year-old to win the race.
The Willie Mullins-trained French import has been backed as if defeat is out of the question in the past few weeks.
Walsh told his Paddy Power blog: “He has always shaped like a three-miler and is in good form at home.
“It’s a big ask for Djakadam – but I think he has a favourite’s chance. Others can decide the price.”
However, dangers abound, including Fingal Bay.
Philip Hobbs’ charge looked like being a star novice chaser but dramatically ran out at Exeter in December 2012. When he returned last season it was over hurdles, culminating in Pertemps Final success at the Cheltenham Festival.
Hobbs said: “He’s in really good form. Whatever the ground is like won’t matter to him but, if it is softer, it might just slow some of the others down.
“He’s in very good shape and we’re looking forward to the race.”
For many years, people have trumpeted the chances of second-season chasers in the Hennessy, and the best qualifier on that system is Alan King’s Smad Place, just touched off in the RSA Chase in March.
King, who had a treble at the Berkshire track on Thursday, said: “We’ve been very happy with him at home, but I just felt a day out last week would benefit him to give him a change of scenery and get the adrenaline back up.
“He hasn’t been on a racecourse since March, so it was important to give him an away day.”