There’s been more personnel changes than an average week at Leeds United but 17 runners stand their ground for one of the biggest betting races of the season.
While Coneygree’s loss from Saturday’s Hennessy Gold Cup hasn’t exactly been Saphir Du Rheu’s gain his absence does increase the chances of champion trainer Paul Nicholls bagging his fourth win in the Newbury showpiece since 2003.
He’ll have to do it the hard way though and hump top weight for 3m 2f, over 21 fences if he’s to repeat Denman’s top-weight triumph in 2009.
Bobs Worth tuned up for his 2013 Cheltenham Gold Cup victory (above) by winning this race in 2012 and proved he’s more than just a one-trick pony when upstaging Simonsig’s showboating over hurdles at Aintree earlier this month.
He looks very well handicapped on his best form of a couple of season ago (13lb lower in the ratings) but in the past has proven as fragile as a Hollywood starlet when asked to run in quick succession.
Trainer Alan King regretted not getting a run into the relatively lightly-raced SMAD PLACE last year and hasn’t made the same mistake again.
He was a smooth winner at Kempton on his seasonal bow over another big-race rival Fingal Bay from the Philip Hobbs’ stable whose If In Doubt has been quietly backed all week and his run in the RSA Chase last March (when fifth to Don Poli) has been a decent guide here in the past.
King also saddles Ned Stark who has a big pull at the weights with the improving The Druids Nephew who beat him at the Cheltenham Festival.
And as our snazzy infographic below shows, there may just be a few more clues to help you pick the winner.
[Click or tap on the image if you’re squinting]
- Major hat tip to designer Eleonore Kellenberger for this Infographic