Exotic heading for Hennessy

Exotic Dancer is among eight possibles for the Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup at Leopardstown on Sunday.

Exotic Dancer is among eight possibles for the Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup at Leopardstown on Sunday.

Connections of the Jonjo O’Neill-trained nine-year-old have had this race in mind since he won the Lexus Chase over the three miles at the Dublin track in December.

However, he also holds an alternative entry in the Aon Chase at Newbury on Saturday which could see the reappearance of Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Denman.

“The plan is to go to Ireland on Thursday, but we are also looking at the Newbury situation as well,” said Barry Simpson, racing manager to owner Robert Ogden.

“The plan has been to go for the Hennessy for some time. It’s a race that would be suitable for him.

“We put him in the Aon as a precaution as that was the other race we had always targeted along with last month’s Cotswold Chase for him to run in.

“We’ve had it in our minds to go to Ireland again this weekend because of the success we had there last time.

“We’ll keep an eye on the weather but the ground looks like being heavy at Newbury and Leopardstown. We’ll just have to take it a step at a time.

“The horse is in good form and we’re happy with him. Jonjo has been kept relatively free weather wise and has been able to continue working with the horse, so everything is on schedule.”

Three other British-trained horses also stood their ground in the Hennessy at the confirmation stage.

They are headed by the Nick Mitchell-trained The Listener, who won the race 12 months ago when trained by Robert Alner and also finished second in 2007.

Paul Nicholls has left in Neptune Collonges while Charlie Mann is represented by Air Force One.

The home team consists of Welsh National hero Notre Pere, trained by Jim Dreaper, Noel Meade’s Afistfullofdollars, Tom Mullins’ Chelsea Harbour and Liam Burke’s Thyne Again.

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