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Smad Place (Richard Johnson) win the 3m 1f trial chase

Smad Place: would be joining exalted company if successful again

  PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (  

King aiming for Hennessy repeat

LAST year's Hennessy winner Smad Place will be targeted at the race again, although trainer Alan King is under no illusions of the size of the task facing the front-running grey.

The nine-year-old delivered one of the performances of the season when running his rivals ragged from the front at Newbury, but his 12-length win came off a mark of 155, and he is now rated 167, having also captured the Grade 2 Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham in January.

Only the great Arkle has ever won the race in consecutive seasons, and Deman (2007 and 2009) was the last multiple winner of the Grade 3.

Smad Place is a general 25-1 chance to defend his crown, and King, discussing his string as part of the Racing Post Stable Tours series, said: "We want to have another crack at the Hennessy - even though it'll be difficult off his new mark - because he's not really good enough to take on the top horses at level weights."

A graduation chase at Kempton was used as the stepping stone to the Hennessy last term, but Smad Place will have a choice of loftier targets to start his campaign this time.

"He wants a prep so we'll probably go to the Old Roan - even though 2m4f may be a bit sharp - or if that doesn't work out, the Charlie Hall the following week, although that's looking like a hot contest," King added.

Read about Alan King's plans for all his stars, including Yanworth and Uxizandre, in Tuesday's Racing Post - on iPad from 8pm

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