After 60 years memorable years the Hennessy Gold Cup has now become the less memorable named Ladbrokes Trophy. This iconic race is the highlight of the second day of the Ladbrokes Winter Carnival which starts this Friday.
In its previous incarnation as the Hennessy Gold Cup, racing legends such as Arkle, Mill House, Burrough Hill Lad and more recently Denman all wrote their legacies at Newbury in November.
2016 saw a big-race treble for the Colin Tizzard stable with Native River, Thistlecrack and Ultragold all landing the spoils on a remarkable afternoon.
Let’s take a look through at some of the market principles:
Total Recall (current odds 6/1)
Ruby Walsh is convinced that Total Recall has the ideal weight to make his presence felt in the Ladbrokes Trophy next Saturday.
The eight-year-old joined the Willie Mullins yard from that of Sandra Hughes over the summer and he immediately made a big impressive when landing last month's Munster National at Limerick.
The sidelined jockey said: "He got a hefty penalty for it (winning at Limerick) but Alpha Des Obeaux backed it up at Clonmel.
"A lot depends on what's going to be top, I suppose if Coneygree runs and Total Recall is to stay on 10-8 that gives him a really good chance.
"He's not the biggest horse in the world and that would be a great weight for him to carry. If the top horses start falling away and the weights creep up, then the penalty would have a bigger impact then but to go around with 10-8 on his back would give him a huge chance."
American (current odds 7/1)
The seven-year-old won all of his three starts over fences last season and rounded off his campaign with a dominant display at Uttoxeter in March.
With the gelding having a well-publicised preference for soft ground, Harry Fry is more than pleased that rain is forecast for the weekend.
Fry added: "If the forecast is correct, there's plenty of rain coming at the end of the week and at this time of year it doesn't dry up too much. With a bit of rain forecast, it should keep it on the slow side.
"I've put him in the Welsh National, only really as a back-up. He's a horse that doesn't run too regularly and he has got that entry (at Chepstow), but it's all about a week on Saturday.
"It's a huge race in its own right and I would not swap him for anything in the race, and neither would Noel (Fehily).”
Singlefarmpayment (current odds 8/1)
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.
Trainer Tom George said: "Singlefarmpayment is on course for the Ladbrokes Trophy. He has come out of his first run of the season at Cheltenham in good form.
"We needed to get that run into him as he is an excitable horse. Giving him that outing at Cheltenham has helped to just take the edge off of him before we go to Newbury."
Whisper (current odds 10/1)
Whisper, who got the better of a match-race with Clan Des Obeaux last time out is one of four possible runners in the race for Nicky Henderson, the other significant one being Vyta Du Roc.
Whisper's jumping will need to be much sharper though if he is to win a prestigious race like the Ladbrokes Trophy, but jockey Davy Russell believes a stronger pace will suit the Dai Walters owned nine-year-old. He finished second to Might Bite on more than one occasion last season but could be primed for a major success here.
Henderson revealed: "Davy says he wants to be going as quick as you can go, in which case he can fire him into the fences. He was leaving his hind legs behind a little bit, but only because they were going steady."
Coneygree (current odds 16/1)
Coneygree will have to carry top weight on Saturday and the last horse to defy 11st 12lb was Denman ten years ago.
Sarah Bradstock, wife and assistant of trainer Mark, was pleased with Coneygree’s recent Newbury workout but admitted that the lack of a full race was a slight concern for the stable’s fragile star, who aims to become the ninth Gold Cup winner to win the Newbury showpiece.
Listen to an interview with Sarah Bradstock here: https://soundcloud.com/sportinglife/coneygree-sara-bradstock
Royal Vacation (current odds 20/1)
Before the start of the season Colin Tizzard said of Royal Vacation: “He was lucky to get his Grade One and we were delighted he was going to finish second behind Might Bite as it was a decent race. He suffered badly last year with sore shins. When we put the tongue tie on it meant he had a small wind problem. We sorted his shins and cauterized his palate. He is likely to have one run then will go for the Ladbrokes Trophy."
Royal Vacation had his opening run at Wetherby where he ran a creditable third behind Guitar Pete. He should be primed and ready for the job ahead this week based on that.
A Genie In Abottle (current odds 20/1)
Noel Meade’s six-year-old, who is owned by Gigginstown House Stud, ended last season with a good third behind stablemate Disko in a Grade One race at the Punchestown Festival.
A Genie In Abottle is two from two this season, most recently defeating Tiger Roll by a length-and-a-half in a Listed contest over three miles at Wexford on October 30th.
*Odds subject to change - correct at time of writing*