Ahoy Senor and Derek Fox © Photo Healy Racing
Peter Scudamore is well aware Ahoy Senor has plenty on his plate when he bids to become the first horse since Denman to carry top-weight to victory in the Coral Gold Cup at Newbury on Saturday.
The eight-year-old produced a tremendous performance to land a Grade Two novice chase by 31 lengths at this meeting in 2021 and went on to round off his novice campaign with a Grade One success at Aintree.
He found life more difficult when stepping into open company last term, but did manage to win the Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham and was second to Shishkin on his return to Aintree in the spring.
For the second year in succession Ahoy Senor failed to fire on his reappearance in the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby, but Scudamore – partner and assistant to trainer Lucinda Russell – hopes he can at least take a step forward under the welter burden of 12st back at the Berkshire venue.
“We’re hoping for a big run. It’s a big ask for him, but he’s won round Newbury and we’re looking forward to it,” he said.
“He’s come on since Wetherby – I’m happier with him than I was going into the Charlie Hall.
“He’ll be a big price and if he finished in the first four, I’d be delighted.”
Denman twice won the historic handicap under top-weight, carrying 11st 12lb to victory in his Cheltenham Gold Cup-winning season in 2007 before regaining his Newbury crown in 2009.
Ahoy Senor will concede upwards of 12lb to his rivals this weekend in the hands of Derek Fox, with the Sam Thomas-trained Stolen Silver next in the weights on 11st 2lb.
Denman’s trainer Paul Nicholls this year relies on the well fancied Complete Unknown as he goes in search of a fourth victory in the race as a trainer. He also won back-to-back runnings of what was the Hennessy Gold Cup during his riding career aboard Broadheath and Playschool in the 1980s.
Jonjo O’Neill’s Monbeg Genius and Dan Skelton’s Midnight River are also prominent in the market, as are the Irish pair of John McConnell’s Mahler Mission and the Gavin Cromwell-trained Stumptown.
Jamie Snowden has declared Datsalrightgino and Ga Law, although the latter’s first preference is to run against Shishkin in the Rehearsal Chase at Newcastle if the meeting survives.