Tidal Bay (near): made winning return to action in the John Smith's HurdlePICTURE: John Grossick (racingpost.com/photos)
Tidal wave of support for Bay in Hennessy
PAUL NICHOLLS' numerical challenge for Saturday's Hennessy Gold Cup lessened on Monday, but according to Ladbrokes his supporters were out in force in backing him to continue his golden run of big Saturday strikes.
The champion trainer has plundered the big race for the past four Saturdays and in top-weight Tidal Bay has another good shout at Newbury.
Nicholls, who has won the Hennessy three times, with Strong Flow in 2003 and Denman in 2007 and 2009, said: "Tidal Bay definitely runs and we will be keeping an eye on the weather for Harry The Viking. The forecast is for it to dry up a bit so we could well be okay."
Tidal Bay was cut to 8-1 (from 14) by Ladbrokes, whose spokesman David Williams said: "The gamble on Tidal Bay has similarities with the successful plunge on Al Ferof a fortnight ago. The Paul Nicholls supporters are already out in full force and we're not going to apologise for evasive action. The ante-post money has been spot-on in recent weeks and a win for Tidal Bay would certainly be expensive."
The Nicholls-trained Michel Le Bon was the only horse prominent in ante-post lists to be taken out on Monday, but that had been expected, with Nicholls saying in Monday's Racing Post that the Coral Welsh National was an alternative.
Nicky Henderson: trainer's title rivalPICTURE: Getty Images
The going at Newbury on Monday was soft, heavy in places, and clerk of the course Richard Osgood does not expect any deterioration.
He said: "There is the slight possibility of a light shower on Tuesday morning but from then on we are looking at a cold but dry forecast for the remainder of the week, with temperatures possibly dipping just below freezing overnight on Friday."
Nicky Henderson will be hoping to end title rival Nicholls' recent domination of the headline races and is due to field favourite Bobs Worth, although given Henderson has withdrawn Darlan and Sprinter Sacre at a late stage before big races recently due to ground concerns, Paddy Power opted to quote Bobs Worth 'with a run' at 3-1.
Coral spokesman David Stevens said: "Nicky Henderson was denied a big-race success when his Long Run was beaten by the Paul Nicholls-trained Silviniaco Conti at Haydock on Saturday, and although Tidal Bay has been backed from 10-1 into 8-1 for the Hennessy, Bobs Worth is sure to start favourite at Newbury as he bids to close the gap on the championship leader."