Racing: Idea is the value

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ANXIOUS parents have a new threat for lazy children. 'Do your English homework,' they warn, 'or you'll end up in the marketing department at Hennessy Cognac,' writes Greg Wood.

This afternoon, the people who brought you the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury in November offer us a race at Leopardstown called: the Hennessy Gold Cup. Imaginatively challenged, to say the least, but, if promotions are called to account, they can at least point out that today's field is not only high class but also competitive, which is no easy task.

If Jodami wins doing rope tricks he may yet displace The Fellow as Gold Cup favourite but, while he will start close to odds-on, it is far from certain he will win at all. For a start, Chatam is weighted to reverse form from the other Hennessy - 16lb better for seven and a half lengths - though his jumping is always a concern and that could let in General Idea (3.50). Dermot Weld's chaser is the best in Ireland on official ratings, and over-priced at about 4-1.

The Champion Hurdle market has already had more big fancies than Don Juan. At Nottingham next Saturday, Coulton may try to avoid becoming the latest to be unceremoniously hustled out of the back door. Few championship favourites have rested on such brittle foundations, however, and, while the City Trial Handicap Hurdle should be within his reach, it would be rash to read too much into even an easy success.

The only way any of tomorrow's runners will get to the Festival is by buying a member's badge, but Kabayil (4.20, Plumpton) should be good enough to rise above the common maul, and Wings Of Freedom (4.30, Hereford) is back to his winning trip. Open Sesame (4.10, Newton Abbot) on Tuesday and Bow Handy Man (2.30, Sedgefield) the following day are also worth a second look.