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Tea' has the right blend to bag gold

TOMORROW'S Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury contains a lot of questions, as horses with plenty of class and horses with plenty of stamina compete. On heavy ground over an extended 3m2f who do you want on your side - classy or gutsy?

Will it be the class horse, Bobs Worth, who won last season's RSA Chase at Cheltenham that prevails in the gruelling conditions, despite the grave concerns of connections about the ground?

Or will it be the classy top weight Tidal Bay who will justify the support of many in midweek (which shortened his odds into 7/1), that can defy the burden and continue the fantastic run of Saturdays Paul Nicholls and Ruby Walsh have been enjoying.

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Will it be one of the Gigginstown pair, First Lieutenant or Magnanimity, or the other Irish raider Lion Na Bearnai, who carries a very low profile despite being an Irish Grand National winner?

Can amateur Sam Waley-Cohen - riding at his lowest possible weight 9st 10lbs - silence his Long Run critics aboard the ex-Irish trained Frisco Depot or will The Package follow up his listed chase win at Wincanton with a much bigger scalp here?

Outsiders Roberto Goldback and Soll were also formerly Irish trained. The former mightn't just love the ground, the latter will love it and may run a big race, but will it be a big enough race to reward each way supporters? Will Carruthers fuel an emotional success for Mark Bradstock and Mattie Batchelor following the recent death of his owner Lord Oaksey?

Will Diamond Harry reel in the years and emulate his win in 2010 here?

Will Harry The Viking give Alex Ferguson something to shout about and win as an outsider for the formidable Nicholls team or will Alfie Spinner get weight from all of his rivals and gallop them into the ground with a light weight?

Or finally, will one of the five horses that I didn't care to mention individually in this piece go and make a total mockery of it and win, thus potentially leaving me with a P45?

Teaforthree gets his first mention here, but he could well be the one that holds the key. On better ground, Bobs Worth would be a pretty straightforward, obvious and worthy selection. On the total opposite of good ground, Teaforthree may just reward the brave at 14/1.

Rebecca Curtis is a very shrewd trainer and although Tony McCoy was an obvious choice to ride the eight-year-old with JP McManus having no runner in the race, his availability is always a big positive.

Teaforthree was placed in three Irish point to points on testing ground, he won at Chepstow on two occasions later in his career over three miles on heavy ground and soft ground and then recorded Cheltenham Festival success in March when winning the four-miler.

He was beaten a long way last time and hopes have to be trusted on Curtis having him bang on for this assignment as he may not be in the same class as the likes of Bobs Worth or even Tidal Bay. But with a liking for the conditions, just 10st6lbs and the champ on his back, he makes an awful lot of appeal.

Decent

Personally, Tidal Bay makes more appeal than Bobs Worth on this occasion. Bobs Worth is a high-class sort who will have a big say in decent races this year, but not on such testing conditions that Tidal Bay seems to now relish.

His win at Sandown on the last day of the season back in April came over 3m6f on soft ground and he kicked off this campaign with an impressive victory over Crack Away Jack on good to soft over 3m1f. The Nicholls string are flying but hauling that weight around against a competitive field may just take its toll in the closing stages.

It's intriguing and made more so by the testing conditions. By this time tomorrow, though, all the questions will be answered.


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