Geraghty weighs up Port mission
Nicky Henderson is ready to let Barry Geraghty get the leg up on Burton Port in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury -- despite the fact that it would mean him carrying overweight.
The six-year-old has won five of his six starts over fences, with his only defeat coming at the hands of the Charles Byrnes-trained Weapons Amnesty in the RSA Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.
Due to the presence of the hat-trick seeking top weight Denman, Burton Port is already due to race from 4lb out of the handicap in Saturday's valuable contest.
But if owner Trevor Hemmings allows Geraghty to take the ride, he will effectively be racing from 6lb out of the weights as Geraghty's lowest riding weight is 10st 2lb.
"I'll have to talk to Trevor Hemmings about Burton Port. Barry can do 10st 2lb and it's just a question of whether they will let him do that," said Henderson.
The Seven Barrows handler could have a second string to his bow in the shape of Barbers Shop, although he does have an alternative in the Rehearsal Chase at Newcastle.
The Henderson-Geraghty alliance featured prominently at Kempton yesterday, as they landed a treble that included a deserved Listed victory for Carole's Legacy. The Ladbrokes Mares' Hurdle went the way of Carole's Legacy (13/8) as she overcame a little rustiness on her first appearance since April to wear down Banjaxed Girl on the run-in.
"It was very kind of (owner) Paul Murphy to keep her in training rather than whipping her off to stud and she will have another go at the David Nicholson, whatever happens," said Henderson. "She can go chasing in the meantime if we choose her to and she will come on plenty for it."
Earlier, the partnership had landed the opening novices hurdle with odds-on favourite Bobs Worth, while the lightly raced Shakalakaboomboom completed their brace in the Pertemps Network Handicap Chase.
As for their likely big rivals in Saturday's Hennessy, Denman's trainer Paul Nicholls has five entries and intends to run all of them at this stage.
Denman will carry 11st 12lb -- just as he did when victorious in 2007 and 2009 -- while Neptune Collonges (10st 8lb) and Taranis (10st 4lb) are two others out of only seven that are in the handicap proper.
The remaining four are the Mouse Morris-trained China Rock (10st 4lb), David Pipe's 2008 winner Madison du Berlais (10st 1lb), Silver By Nature (10st) from Lucinda Russell's stable and Barbers Shop (10st).
Nicholls' other two entries are The Tother One and Niche Market and all of his contenders delighted him in a schooling session yesterday.
"Denman obviously heads the market in his attempt to make history with a third Hennessy win on Saturday, and he really is full of enthusiasm at the moment," said Nicholls.
"And, more significantly, he looks great. When he looks so good, that is always a positive sign. Sam Thomas rides." Morris admits he is being tempted to run China Rock -- which recently finished third behind Kauto Star at Down Royal -- due to his light weight.
"The plan is to go at the moment. I just need to talk to the owners and go through the race, but I'd say he'll travel," said Morris. "He came out of Down Royal with not a bother on him. He ran well there and he'd look well treated in the Hennessy. He would have to have an each-way chance, otherwise I'm wasting my time."
Other raiders could include Noel Meade's classy novice from last season Pandorama and Rare Bob from the Dessie Hughes yard.
Ferdy Murphy has left in Big Fella Thanks, which used to be in the Nicholls camp. Two of last season's leading novice chasers -- the Ian Williams-trained Weird Al and Nick Williams' Diamond Harry -- have been confirmed along with Cheltenham Gold Cup fourth Carruthers from the Mark Bradstock stable.
Hennessy Gold Cup ODDS (William Hill) -- 4/1 Denman, 5/1 Weird Al, 6/1 Diamond Harry, 8/1 Burton Port, 9/1 Pandorama, 12/1 Big Fella Thanks, Taranis, 14/1 Madison du Berlais, Neptune Collonges, 16/1 Silver By Nature, 18/1 Carruthers, 20/1 China Rock, Hey Big Spender, 25/1 bar.