Both Ladbrokes and William Hill now have the Paul Nicholls-trained runner as an 8-1 chance from 14-1 following the news that his stablemate and ante-post favourite Star De Mohaison will not run.
With Ruby Walsh booked for the top weight, punters are throwing their cash behind Cornish Rebel, who finished third in the race 12 months ago.
David Williams, spokesman for Ladbrokes said: “Punters have wasted no time in following Ruby Walsh. If they were upset about Star De Mohaison it certainly isn’t showing.
“Cornish Rebel goes well fresh and loves Newbury. We knew the money was going to come sooner or later.
“The Ruby factor has now kicked in and he’s challenging for favouritism in what remains a wide-open betting heat.
“It’d be madness to predict who will go off favourite at this stage but Cornish Rebel is now sure to be there or thereabouts.”
Nicholls still has four engaged in the Grade Three contest but the champion trainer intends to run Cornish Rebel and just one other. “I’m only going to run two in the Hennessy. Cornish Rebel, who Ruby is going to ride, and Napolitain who Paddy Merrigan is going to take 5lb off,” said Nicholls.
“Neptune Collonges is going to go to Newcastle for the Rehearsal Chase and Ladalko is going to wait for Sandown the week after.
“Cornish Rebel won’t wear blinkers on Saturday. He’s very fresh and well.
“I just felt that he was very off and on last year and he was struggling with his breathing a little bit so, like a lot of ours, he had an operation during the summer which should improve him,” he told Racing UK.
“He ran very well in the race last year and I’d be very hopeful that he would run a big race as he is fresh.”
Ron Hodges is praying that conditions do not turn heavy for Preacher Boy in the feature event.
The Somerset trainer would like good to soft ground for his lightly-raced seven-year-old, who is generally available at 25-1.
Preacher Boy was having just his sixth run under rules, and his first since April, when runner-up to Parsons Legacy in the Badger Ales Trophy at Wincanton earlier this month.
“He’s very well. We schooled him today and it all went fine. Hopefully things will stay right with him,” said Hodges of the former point-to-pointer.
“He wouldn’t want it heavy, good to soft jumping ground would be ideal.
“He ran a great race at Wincanton and he should have improved for the run.
“We haven’t got a jockey yet, we’ll have to wait to see who is available.”
Emma Lavelle has her string in fine form as a double at Kempton on Tuesday showed, and her runner Presenting Express could hardly be in better shape.
The seven-year-old has won six of his last eight starts and has been triumphant on both outings this season, latterly taking a modest three-mile-two-furlong chase at Plumpton with the minimum of fuss.
But the Andover trainer is under no illusions and admits the course and distance winner is taking a major step up in class.
“He gets in, which is the good news and he is in very, very good order,” said Lavelle
“What you have to remember is that I have been very careful in placing him, choosing where to run him.
“There is no doubt that this is a big step up in class but to his credit, he couldn’t be in any better form. It is fair to say we are taking a chance.”
Nigel Twiston-Davies is still undecided as to whether Fundamentalist, winner of the 2004 Royal & SunAlliance Hurdle, will take his chance.
The eight-year-old also holds an engagement in the Rehearsal Chase at Newcastle while Twiston-Davies has a second string to his bow in recent Cheltenham winner Ardaghey.
“Fundamentalist may go for the Rehearsal instead,” revealed Twiston-Davies. “I just need to work out who is going where and what is going on.
“I was very pleased with him at Cheltenham last time, it was more like the Fundamentalist we know and showed he was as good as ever.
“Ardaghey is very well and he won very well last time. We are looking forward to him running.”
6-1 State Of Play, Turpin Green, 8-1 Cornish Rebel, Montgermont, 12-1 Idle Talk, Juveigneur, Vodka Bleu 14-1 Southern Vic, Distant Thunder, 16-1 Presenting Express, Commercial Flyer, Copsale Lad, 20-1 Ardaghey, Innox, Parsons Legacy, 25-1 bar.
11-2 Turpin Green, 6-1 State Of Play, 8-1 Cornish Rebel, Montgermont, 10-1 Juveigneur, 12-1 Vodka Bleu, Idle Talk, Distant Thunder, Southern Vic, 14-1 Copsale Lad, 16-1 Commercial Flyer, 20-1 Presenting Express, 25-1 bar.