One of the most unexposed horses in the expected line-up for the high profile Grade 3 Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury on December 1 is the ex-Irish Frisco Depot, who showed definite signs of potential when running well for a long way on his recent British debut.
Formerly trained in the ‘Emerald Isle’ by Dessie Hughes, for whom he proved himself a capable graded performer, the gelded son of King’s Theatre joined Charlie Longsdon’s in-form yard towards the end of October and 10 days later was sent into battle for the first time on this side of the Irish Sea when well backed in the racing odds to carry off the Grade 3 United House Gold Cup Handicap Chase at Ascot.
Under his owner’s son Sam Waley-Cohen the eight-year-old traveled well until a mistake at the ninth temporarily halted his progress from the rear of the field, but he soon recovered and was in with every chance at the third from home when he got the fence all wrong and came crashing to the ground. Happily neither horse nor jockey sustained anything worse than bruised pride, and Frisco Depot certainly showed enough to suggest he could pick up a decent race or two for his new connections.
Installed as just a 12/1 chance for the Hennessy Gold Cup with the likes of Paddy Power, the winner of three of his thirteen career starts was a fair novice hurdler in Ireland but proved himself a better chaser, winning on his fencing bow at Fairyhouse on New Year’s Day before inexplicably running a poor race and being tailed off when pulled up at Thurles a few weeks later. Back to something approaching his best when a five-length runner-up to the very classy Flemenstar at Naas in Grade 3 company in March, he then landed the Grade 2 Hugh McMahon Memorial Novice Chase at Limerick, beating Your Busy by three-and-a-half-lengths.
After unseating his rider when beaten at the third last in the Grade 1 Growise Champion Novice Chase at Punchestown won by current Cheltenham Gold Cup fancy Sir Des Champs, Longsdon’s charge ended his campaign running a respectable fourth back at the same track in the well contested Pat Taaffe Handicap Chase in May.
Off a mark of just 141 and a near minimum racing weight of 10st 1lb, it is easy to see Frisco Depot making an impression at Newbury, especially if he can be persuaded to pick his hooves up and put in a clear round.