Prince De Beauchene: trainer Willie Mullins will make a decision on ThursdayPICTURE: Patrick McCann (racingpost.com/photos)
Beauchene's Hennessy bid in the balance
WHETHER Prince De Beauchene will join Lord Windermere in a bid to deliver Ireland a first Hennessy Gold Cup for more than 30 years was in the balance on Wednesday night, with trainer Willie Mullins set to leave a decision until near declaration time on Thursday morning.
While the support for Jim Culloty-trained Lord Windermere has been unrelenting over the past few days, the hugely consistent Prince De Beauchene would be popular with punters as well, having run a fine race on his reappearance at Down Royal this month.
The ten-year-old is a 14-1 shot for the Hennessy at Newbury on Saturday with Paddy Power and Ladbrokes, and that he was previously trained in Britain by Howard Johnson and ran twice at Newbury should stand him in good stead should he be sent across the Irish Sea.
"Prince de Beauchene's performance when third in the JNwine.com Champion Chase at Down Royal was encouraging for his first run of the season and we will decide in the morning whether he travels,” Mullins said.
The trainer added: “Terminal will run and the good to soft ground should suit him. We also have On His Own and Vesper Bell entered but it's more likely that we'll wait and maybe run them in the Becher Chase at Aintree the following weekend."
Cape Tribulation is a likely runner, which means the weights will not rise any more. There was a 13lb hike after Tidal Bay was taken out at the five-day stage, which left Malcolm Jefferson-trained Gold Cup fifth Cape Tribulation at the top of the list.
Jefferson told At The Races: "There aren't a lot of places you can go with him so I think he'll take his chance. All being well, he will run. With top weight, good to soft ground will be fine. Jack Doyle rides as Denis [O'Regan] has to go to Newcastle."
While Cape Tribulation is around a 25-1 shot, at the head of the market Invictus lost his place as favourite on Wednesday, being replaced by Rocky Creek and Lord Windermere.
Ladbrokes rate those two at 7-1, and offer 9-1 about Invictus.
Spokesman David Williams said: "The support for Lord Windermere is unrelenting. He has been backed heavily for the past 48 hours and could easily be sent off favourite. Long-time favourite Invictus is on the drift as punters have taken Alan King's warnings seriously."
Liam Glynn, PR executive at Boylesports, added: “Lord Windermere was available at 12-1 on Monday and is the subject of a massive Hennessy gamble. The RSA winner is now only 8-1 and he is all that punters want at the moment.
“Rocky Creek is our biggest book loss as things stand but if the demand keeps coming for Lord Windermere, then he is more likely than Invictus to go off joint favourite alongside Rocky Creek for Saturday’s race.”