CROWDS of up to 19,000 are expected at Newbury Racecourse on Saturday for the historic 60th running of the Hennessy Gold Cup.
Oscar-winning actor Eddie Redmayne – best known for his roles in The Theory of Everything and The Danish Girl – and model and actor Elizabeth Hurley are rumoured to be among the celebrities attending this year.
First run at Cheltenham in 1957, the Hennessy Gold Cup transferred to Newbury three years later.
Now, with prize money of £200,000 on offer, it has established itself as one of the most prestigious races in jump racing.
The three-and-a-quarter mile handicap chase boasts a rich history, with greats such as Arkle, Mill House, Denman and Many Clouds all winning the race during their illustrious careers.
Hennessy has been associated with the race since its inception, making the Hennessy Gold Cup the longest-running commercial sponsorship in British racing.
This year, up to 24 horses will go head-to-head over an extended three-and-a-quarter miles in what will be the highlight of the new-look bet365 Festival.
And so far the early weather forecasts are giving cause for optimism.
Lambourn trainer Nicky Henderson has enjoyed plenty of success in the Hennessy, winning the race three times with Trabolgan (2005), Bobs Worth (2012) and Triolo D’Alene (2013).
He is hoping to send out two runners for this year’s Hennessy – Triolo D’Alene and Vyta Du Roc.
Henderson said: “I am hoping for lovely ground for Triolo D’Alene, who does not want it soft.
“I love Triolo and it would be great to see him come back and win the Hennessy again.
“He is in good form and he has had a good preparation.
“I would have liked to have got a race into him beforehand, but that is why we have come here today.
“Vyta Du Roc looks well and I think he has a very realistic chance.
“He has the profile of an up-and-coming chaser and that is the sort you need for the Hennessy.”
If travelling by car, it is best to arrive early as traffic is expected to be heavy – but all accesses into the racecourse will be open throughout the day.