Barry Geraghty and Modus (left) prepare to strike in the opening race
NICO de Boinville has been confirmed as Bobs Worth’s rider in Saturday’s Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury.
The jockey was due to partner Coneygree, but will revert to the horse he has previously ridden to success for Nicky Henderson.
The field is now 17-strong and will see Saphir Du Rheu concede seven pounds or more to each of the other horses in the wake of the ‘Coneygree effect.’
Paul Nicholls horse is now the clear favourite but can expect the lighter challenges from horses including Bobs Worth, while Alan King’s Smad Place has also ben picking up backing.
King also has Ned Stark in the field and Philip Hobbs has Fingal Bay and If In Doubt. Venetia Williams maintains Houblon Des Obeaux in the field and Irish hopes First Lieutenant and Urano will ride for Mouse Morris and Willie Mullins respectively.
The other runners are former Cheltenham Gold Cup runner-up The Giant Bolster, The Druids Nephew, The Young Master, Fox Appeal, Splash Of Ginge, Benbens, Al Co and Theatre Guide, third in the race in 2013.
The three-day bet365 Festival got under way with Paul, Nicholls Modus romping home to win the opening race, the bet365 Novices Hurdle.
The horse - tipped by the NWN’s Luke Harvey - was not a great shot at 1/2 on, but it gave Barry Geragthy a winning start to the meeting and a little bonus to all the punters who backed the favourite.
Aidan Coleman and his mount Acajou Des Bieffes fell on a course which is marked as soft, and heavy in places.