HENNESSY Gold Cup winner Many Clouds is likely to face the challenge of the two highest-rated chasers in training in this year’s Newbury showpiece on Saturday, November 28.
Don Cossack and Coneygree headline a 60-strong entry, the highest since 2010 for the £200,000 Gold Cup on the third and final day of the bet365 Festival.
Don Cossack was a revelation last season and his victories in Aintree's Melling Chase and the Punchestown Gold Cup elevated him to the top of the Anglo-Irish Jump Classifications with a rating of 175. The eight-year-old has already proved his well-being this season with a 12-length win in a Grade Three chase at Punchestown on October 15.
Coneygree, rated 172 at the end of last season, enjoyed an unbeaten 2014/15 campaign which culminated with him becoming the first the novice chaser since Captain Christy in 1974 to land the Cheltenham Gold Cup, and trainer Mark Bradstock has nominated the Hennessy Gold Cup as the early-season target for the eight-year-old.
Coneygree enjoyed two wins at Newbury last season, including an easy seven-length victory in the Grade Two Denman Chase over three miles in February.
The current ante-post favourite is Saphir Du Rheu , who was an impressive winner over fences at Aintree's Grand National meeting in April.
Oliver Sherwood’s Many Clouds is likely to bid for a second Hennessy Gold Cup win after his triumph last year when the Grand National also came back to Lambourn, and Nicky Henderson has 20-12-13 winner Bobs Worth lined up to run.