Noel Meade's Casey Jones - fourth in the JNwine.com Champion Chase at the recent Down Royal Festival - can upset the odds and win the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury tomorrow.
Michael O'Brien's Bright Highway, the last Irish-trained winner of the Paddy Power Gold Cup before Tranquil Sea two weeks ago, was the most recent Hennessy victor from those shores in 1980.
Grade One-winning novice Casey Jones will bid to break that barren spell despite Denman being strongly fancied in the race.
“The course and distance could suit us but the one thing that could be against us is if the ground got really heavy. He ran well at Down Royal but got lost in the heavy ground down the back and got left on his own a bit.
“I thought he was going to be second turning in but he got a bit tired in the straight. That run will have brought him on,” said Meade.
Tony McCoy preserved an unbeaten link with St Austell owner Graham Roach when steering Michel Le Bon to an unchallenged success over Bench Warrent in the GPG Novices' Chase at Newbury yesterday to complete an |8-1 double.
With Paul Nicholls' stable jockey Ruby Walsh competing at Thurles, connections of Michel Le Bon were delighted to get the services of the champion.
“After this Tony is three out of three for me,” enthused Roach after the 6-4 chance had obliged.
“With Ruby riding for Willie Mullins, Tony was the man we wanted. He's the boy.”
The winner attracted a 20-1 quote for the RSA Chase at Cheltenham.
Colin Tizzard's Midnight Queen (11-4 favourite) won the opening EBF Mares' National Hunt Novices' Hurdle to give McCoy — who rides Binocular at Newcastle tomorrow — that 8-1 double.
Pat Smullen cut Johnny Murtagh’s lead in the Irish Championship by one at Dundalk last night but trails 93-88 going into what is the final day. Banned Murtagh sits out the action.