It may have changed its name after 60 years but the Ladbrokes Gold Trophy is still a competitive race as ever with 21 runners attempting to the land the specially-commissioned new trophy on Saturday afternoon.
Run over 3m 2 1/2f, the former Hennessy Gold Cup sees many of the UK and Ireland’s top staying chasers pit their wits against other handicappers of varying ability.
2015 Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Coneygree is bidding to become the third horse this century to defy top-weight, following on from Trabolgan (2005) and Denman (2007 & 2009).
Whisper was second to stablemate Might Bite in the G1 RSA Chase in March and steps back into handicap company for the first time since 2014. Nicky Henderson has won this race three times since 2005.
Harry Fry's American is an interesting runner after winning all his three starts over fences last season. He’s lightly raced and his trainer has had this race earmarked for him for quite some time.
Carole's Destrier was a valiant half-length runner-up to Native River in last year's renewal of the race. He always tends to run a good race first time out and will be a decent each-way price.
Label Des Obeaux
He was second to American in novice company a year ago and won a decent handicap at Ayr back in the spring, just getting the nod over Calett Mad. He looks more of a spring horse in fairness to him.
A Genie In Abottle
This progressive six-year-old was a talented novice last season and ended the campaign with a good third behind stablemate Disko at Punchestown. He comes into the race on the back of wins at Galway and Wexford in October.
He came eighth in the Grand National in April and that will most probably be his target again this season. He would be a surprise winner of this given his recent form.
The seven-year-old made his seasonal debut at Wetherby when third to Guitar Pete and represents last year’s winning trainer. Last season he won the G1 Kauto Star Novices' Chase at Kempton Park.
Paddy Brennan gets the leg up on this Mrs Bishop owned horse and Brennan could well be out to prove a point on Saturday.
Winner of the G3 Bobbyjo Chase at Fairyhouse in February. The last Irish-trained winner of the former Hennessy Gold Cup was Bright Highway in 1980 and Willie Mullins will be hoping to break this hoodoo.
Total Recall made the perfect start for his new trainer Willie Mullins when defeating Alpha Des Obeaux by seven lengths in the Munster National on October 8th.
He has been the ante-post favourite for this contest for some time but Mullins’ record in UK handicaps is woeful which is a major worry for any backer of the favourite.
Singlefarmpayment did well last term over fences, scoring at Cheltenham in December and only going down by the narrowest of margins to Un Temps Pour Tout in the Ultima Handicap Chase at the Festival in March.
He returned to Cheltenham last month for his seasonal reappearance, running a valiant race behind Cogry. He has to prove he can show the same level of form away from Prestbury Park...
Now an eleven-year-old, Double Ross was third in this race last year off a 2lb higher mark. Given that his trainer has been taking all the big handicap chases this month it is hard to strike him out of your calculations. You may be handsomely rewarded by this veteran chaser.
The Badger Ales Trophy Handicap Chase winner Present Man is again the mount of the in-form Bryony Frost and the horse may have not stopped improving.
Present Man, who is unbeaten in two runs under Frost, carries a 4lb penalty for his latest win which will be cancelled out by Frost's claiming allowance.
Warren Greatrex's gelding finished ahead of A Genie In Abottle when second in the NH Chase over four miles at Cheltenham last March.
His form has been patchy since (pulled up at Wetherby last time) but is the type to bounce right back at a price.
Rebecca Curtis and Jonathan Moore teamed up to win the G2 Reynoldstown Novices' Chase with Bigbadjohn back in February and it will now be the turn of Adam Wedge to try and put some spark back into Curtis’ season.
Trainer form is a worry but nobody expected Irish Cavalier to win the Charlie Hall last year did they?
Vyta Du Roc
Vyta Du Roc had a blow out over hurdles at Aintree in preparation for this race and comes into the race on a handy low weight.
Owners Simon Munir and Isaac Suede had winners galore in the UK and France last weekend and this could well be another big prize pot they scoop up.
Hails from the all powerful Paul Nicholls stable but there is a suspicion that that the six-year-old is pretty much a summer jumper and will not be at home on Saturday’s predicted going.
Nigel Twiston-Davies is optimistic that he can complete a big-race treble on consecutive Saturdays with Cogry and has been very bullish about the eight-year-old’s chances.
He got a positive ride at Cheltenham last time out and will undoubtedly get another at Newbury.
Ran fourth in last season’s Kim Muir and looks the type of horse who will work himself into the race late doors when plenty of the others will be backpedalling.
Brian Hughes, who is firing in the winners left, right and centre, gets the call.
He was well fancied for the Badger Ales but was pulled up in that race and is struggling to produce anything like his 2014/15 exploits.
Pretty difficult to make a case for him other than that he runs off bottom weight.
He won the Betbright Chase in February under a brilliantly timed run and looks to have the better credentials of the Mulholland trained pair to win this.
The Wincanton going will not have suited him last time but Newbury’s predicted going looks like being more his scene.
Vyta Du Roc looks to have been plotted for this race as does Harry Fry’s American. I expect both of them to be there in the final stages but at an each-way price I’m going to take Lucy Wadham’s Potters Legend.
This horse will be suited by Newbury’s stamina test and Brian Hughes will ride a canny waiting race on him, producing him late in the day.