Sport Horse Racing

Saturday 16 December 2017

China Rock to miss Hennessy

Thomas Kelly

Irish hopes of landing Saturday's Hennessy Gold Cup suffered a setback yesterday when China Rock was ruled out of the Newbury showpiece.

The seven-year-old had been well supported after Barry Geraghty was booked, but trainer Mouse Morris has revealed he will now miss out.

"I had to make a final decision this morning and I just wasn't 100pc happy with him," said Morris. "I hope he'll be alright to run at Christmas, probably at Leopardstown."

Sam Thomas is counting down the hours until he will be reunited with Denman as he seeks a historic third win in the prestigious handicap.

"Obviously I'm over the moon and delighted to be back on a horse which has done so much for my career," Thomas said. "He's in good form and hopefully he's come back to something like his best.

"We do get on well -- I find it very easy to ride a horse like him. At times you're like a passenger. I leave it up to him and that's the way he likes it.

"There's no pressure. We know what we have to do, our cards are on the table and we're the ones to be shot at. He's been top weight throughout his career and it's not a problem."

Colin Tizzard has confirmed that his big fancy, Hey Big Spender, will have the services of Aidan Coleman. "He's ready to go and Aidan is going to ride him," said Tizzard. "I'm delighted to have Aidan. He's a top jockey."

Robbie Hennessy has ruled Sublimity out of the Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle on Saturday.

With the ground likely to be soft if the meeting beats the forecast frost, Hennessy believes there is little point sending his charge across the Irish Sea and he could switch to a conditions hurdle at Fairyhouse on Saturday.

"We've decided we're not going to send him," said the Co Meath handler. "It's hard enough taking on these horses on good ground, so there is no point taking them on when it's soft."

The focal point for Irish punters today is the card at Thurles, where Edward O'Grady and Andrew McNamara are likely to continue their good form with Catch Me in the opening Glen Chase.

A disappointment at Cheltenham last Saturday week, this former classy hurdler can use his race fitness to see off the returning Clan Tara and the Dessie Hughes-trained Lenabane.

Willie Mullins and Paul Townend should enjoy a profitable afternoon as Sivota has a favourite's chance in the Rock Of Cashel Hurdle, while a clear round should be enough to ensure that Uncle Junior secures the EBF Beginners Chase.

Irish Independent

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