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Our Father

Our Father: one of three runners being backed for the Hennessy

Hennessy market hots up as punters seek out value

THE position of Invictus as favourite for Saturday's Hennessy Gold Cup came under intense pressure on Tuesday as Rocky Creek, Lord Windermere and Our Father all continued to attract support for Newbury's £175,000 handicap.

There is particular momentum behind Lord Windermere, focus of a bullish report from trainer Jim Culloty on Monday and subject of subsequent price cuts.

The last three RSA winners to compete in the Hennessy when attempting the double the same year have all won - Bobs Worth, Denman and Trabolgan - and that has also seemingly boosted punters' confidence.

Betfred spokesman Andrew Griffiths spoke for the industry when saying on Tuesday: "Punters have been getting stuck into Lord Windermere all day. Jim Culloty is very hopeful of a big performance and his confidence has been reflected in the market."

The seven-year-old was widely cut into 8-1 (from 12) and is only a point bigger than Invictus, who has Rocky Creek breathing down his neck as he clings onto favouritism.

Liam Glynn, PR executive at Boylesports, said "Having been supported down from 10-1 on Sunday night, Rocky Creek is now a massive book loss and if the money continues to come in he is likely to go off favourite for Saturday's race."

He added: "Punters have also started to support Lord Windermere and after a bullish report from his trainer Jim Culloty we have had to shorten the RSA winner into 10-1 from 12-1."

Champion trainer Nicky Henderson could do with a big-race winner to kickstart his campaign, but warned punters on Tuesday that he had not yet decided for sure which of the well-fancied Hadrian's Approach and Triolo D'Alene would represent him.

He said: "We've still not decided about them yet. Hadrian's Approach will improve dramatically for going three-and-a-bit miles, while with Triolo D'Alene it's just a matter of whether he goes for the Hennessy or to Aintree for the Topham."

Sponsor bet365 priced the Long Distance Hurdle, on the same card and which had reopened after attracting eight entries initially on Monday. At Fishers Cross is even money favourite, with Reve De Sivola next best at 4-1 after his come-from-behind victory at Auteuil, just ahead of 9-2 shot Celestial Halo.

The sponsor's spokesman Pat Cooney said: "He may well be our 7-2 joint favourite with Big Buck's for the World Hurdle at Cheltenham in March, but At Fishers Cross has by no means a straightforward task on Saturday.

"He's clearly the rising star in the staying ranks, but he faces a pair of high quality seasoned horses in Celestial Halo and Reve De Sivola, as well as a race-fit pair in Medinas and Salubrious, so he may well need a career best to win.

"However, he's won his last six races showing improved form with each victory, and is sure to be all the rage with the betting public to extend the winning sequence to seven."

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