Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Time and Place for King's Smad; Grey Expectations in Cracking Hennessy Irving's Fifth Amendment

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Time and Place for King's Smad; Grey Expectations in Cracking Hennessy Irving's Fifth Amendment

Article excerpt

Byline: Garry Owen

BLACK Friday it may have been, but I'm standing in line for a GREY Saturday in today's Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury where Alan King's SMAD PLACE (3.00) looks gift-wrapped.

Bargain basement prices have disappeared for the French-bred seven-yearold but he still looks decent value to put Mullins' Djak back in the box and see off the best TURN TO PAGE TWO FROM PAGE ONE of the staying handicappers from these shores.

I've always liked this grey gelding since he arrived at Barbury Castle four years ago, bolting up by 27l from Nicholls' Dolutulo on his debut for the King yard here at Newbury.

On his first trip to the Festival, he finished mid-div, 10th of 23 about 11 lengths behind Zarkandar in the Triumph. Staying was clearly going to be his game and Smad returned to Cheltenham in 2012 to finish an admirable third to Big Buck's in the World Hurdle.

King prepped him for another go at the prize in 2013 and he was not disgraced when just over five lengths off Solwhit.

Smad Place's career over fences got off to an inauspicious start at Huntingdon when he parted company with Choc Thornton at the last when miles ahead.

A clear round followed at Exeter before Smad nailed the smart Sam Winner in a hot wee race over three miles here on heavy ground in February.

Sent off jt-fav for the RSA at the Festival, the grey ran his heart out on ground that would have been plenty fast enough, only to lose out in the last strides to the Rebecca Curtis-trained O'Faolains Boy.

Despite only four starts over fences the grey seems tough enough for today's big ask. King reckons Smad's a stronger horse this season, he'll love the ground and goes well fresh. What's not to like? His trainer had a treble at the Berkshire track on Thursday and said: "Smad Place's form suggests he has a big chance. This has been his target since the RSA and if he runs very well or improves a bit then you hope he might be a Gold Cup horse but he has a fair way to go yet. …

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