Founded in 1957, the Hennessy Gold Cup handicap chase was originally held at Cheltenham racecourse before switching to Newbury in 1960. The first winner of the race was a horse named Mandarin, owned by Peggy Hennessy who was a part of the family that founded Hennessy, the long-term sponsor of the contest. In 2015, Hennessy’s association with Newbury’s premier handicap chase became the longest running partnership in British racing and has seen the race excel in recent years.
The Hennessy Gold Cup is traditionally viewed as the first trial for the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March. Many second-season chasers attempt to showcase their talents for the first time in open company when utilising their potentially lenient handicap marks in the Hennessy Gold Cup. Bobs Worth in 2013 achieved the memorable double when winning the Hennessy and Cheltenham’s blue-riband event in the same season. It is an accomplishment widely-regarded as one of the toughest of the National Hunt campaign with very few runners capable of winning both lucrative prizes.
During the 2014/2015 jumps season, the Oliver Sherwood-trained Many Clouds became the first horse in racing history to win both the Hennessy Gold Cup and Grand National in the same season. It was a feat deemed as one of the greatest the sport has ever seen due to the fact that both races demand such exuberance from the National Hunt horse. Newbury’s 3m2f test is one in which sees stamina prevail due to the frantic early pace that meets its contenders.
The timing of the Hennessy Gold Cup cements its position as one of the first established races of the new jump season and often gets the juices flowing of those eager racing fans that have waited all summer for top-class jumping action. With over £200,000 in the prize-pool, the Hennessy frequently attracts the best jump horses from across Britain and Ireland. The sport’s leading staying chasers are renowned for meeting in Newbury’s highlight handicap as a first taster for what the division will produce during the season.