Dual winner Denman heads 20 horses standing their ground in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury on Saturday at the five-day stage.
Paul Barber’s 10-year-old, trained by Paul Nicholls, carried top weight of 11st 12lb to victory in 2007 and 2009 and is again burdened with that lofty burden as he attempts to become the first horse to win this prestigious handicap chase for a third time.
Only six other horses are in the handicap proper and they include his stablemates Neptune Collonges (10st 8lb) and Taranis (10st 4lb).
The remaining four are the Mouse Morris-trained China Rock (10st 4lb), David Pipe’s 2008 winner Madison de Berlais (10st 1lb), The Queen’s Barbers Shop (10st) and Silver By Nature (10st) from Lucinda Russell’s stable.
Nicholls has two other possibles in The Tother One and Niche Market while Barbers Shop’s trainer Nicky Henderson also has Burton Port.
Ferdy Murphy has left in Big Fella Thanks, who used to be in the Nicholls camp.
Two of last season’s leading novice chasers, the Ian Williams-trained Weird Al and Nick Williams’ Diamond Harry have been confirmed along with Cheltenham Gold Cup fourth Carruthers from the Mark Bradstock stable.
Completing the list of possibles are Philip Hobbs’ Dream Alliance, Colin Tizzard’s Hey Big Spender, Noel Meade’s Pandorama, Nigel Twiston-Davies’ Razor Royale, Keith Goldsworthy’s Hills Of Aran and Rare Bob from the Dessie Hughes yard.