Hennessy Gold Cup: Smad Place wins at Newbury
Smad Place secured a dominant victory in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury.
The eight-year-old grey, trained by Alan King and ridden by Wayne Hutchinson, jumped beautifully from the outset and was 12 lengths to the good over Theatre Guide at the line.
First Lieutenant was another neck away in third, with favourite Saphir Du Rheu and 2012 winner Bobs Worth unplaced.
Smad Place was fifth last year and Hutchinson said: "It all come together this year. He never missed a beat."
Nicky Henderson's 10-year-old Bobs Worth, who also won the 2013 Cheltenham Gold Cup, was seeking to become only the fourth horse to win the Hennessy twice.
But he never featured as Hutchinson drove the striking grey in commanding fashion, with his trainer surprised by the way the race unfolded.
King said: "We hoped for a good run but that's taken my breath away.
"He (Hutchinson) was very brave, but I'm not sure that were the tactics we discussed. He loves to be up there and he deserved to win a big race as he'd been knocking on the door."
Saphir Du Rheu, the 9-2 favourite and top weight, travelled favourably for a large part of the race but made a bad mistake seven fences from home and finished fifth.
Bobs Worth, who had shortened to 6-1, never looked entirely happy and came home in sixth.
BBC horse racing correspondent Cornelius Lysaght:
There was much emotion around this victory for the Alan King team after the recent death of one of their number, but there was also a considerable amount of joy mixed in with the tears at a genuinely stunning performance.
To carry plenty of weight on rain-softened ground and to win by a wide margin having led for much of the way in one of the great steeplechases of the year was top-drawer stuff.
No wonder people are talking now about the Cheltenham Gold Cup as a future target.