TRIOLO D’Alene gave champion trainer Nicky Henderson a third win in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury with a hard-fought triumph over Rocky Creek.
The six-year-old, winner of last season’s Topham Chase at Aintree, gave jockey Barry Geraghty back-to-back victories in the race after the success of the Henderson-trained Bobs Worth 12 months ago.
Rocky Creek fought hard in the closing stages, but it was Triolo D’Alene (20-1) who prevailed by two and three-quarter lengths. Theatre Guide was another length and three-quarters away in third, with Highland Lodge fourth.
Geraghty said: “He was great. I had a brilliant ride off him in the Topham and he was brilliant today. He has a great attitude. On that ground and on a stiff track, he finds it so easy.”
Imperial Commander and Highland Lodge set the pace in a highly-competitive renewal of this prestigious staying handicap chase which saw the winner’s stablemate, Hadrian’s Approach, and Opening Batsman exit at the fifth fence. Katenko, who joined the leading pair, fell at the 14th and, when Imperial Commander weakened rapidly, it was Highland Lodge who went on.
Cloudy Too briefly seized the initiative and was soon challenged by Rocky Creek, who looked as though he might give the Stewart and Johnson families an emotional success.
He jumped the last in unison with Triolo D’Alene, who proved the stronger on the run-in.
Henderson said: “He’s a lovely horse with a lovely attitude, but Barry has been begging me all year to save him for the National.
“We’ve mucked that up completely, but the Hennessy is very special.”
Triolo D’Alene received quotes of around 16-1 for the Crabbie’s Grand National at Aintree on 5 April. Henderson said: “After he won the Topham, we started to think about the National and we’ll have to think about that now. Four or five days ago I was in despair, but [now] the world seems a brighter place.”
Andy Stewart, joint owner of Rocky Creek, said: “He ran very well and was just beaten by a better horse. The idea is to go for the Welsh National, but Aintree is the big target.”