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Saphir Du Rheu tops 17 runners in Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury

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Saphir Du Rheu will be giving away upwards of 7lb to each of his 16 rivals in Saturday's Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury.

Saphir Du Rheu will be giving away upwards of 7lb to each of his 16 rivals in Saturday's Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury.

Paul Nicholls' grey was vying for favouritism with Coneygree before the Gold Cup winner was ruled out of the race and he now finds himself as the clear market leader.

The six-year-old's chasing career did not get off to the greatest of starts and he reverted to hurdles before bolting up in Grade One company at the Grand National meeting.

In Coneygree's absence, Nico De Boinville can still ride a Gold Cup winner as he takes the mount on Bobs Worth.

Smad Place has been well supported for Alan King. Sixth in the race last season when his trainer felt he needed the run, he has not made the same mistake this season and arrives on the back of a comfortable success over Fingal Bay at Kempton.

King also runs Ned Stark, while Fingal Bay takes on Smad Place again and he is one of two runners for Philip Hobbs, with If In Doubt also lining up for the Minehead handler.

Houblon Des Obeaux, placed in the race before, runs again for Venetia Williams, while The Giant Bolster, a Cheltenham Gold Cup runner-up in his pomp, represents David Bridgwater.

Neil Mulholland has two solid chances with The Druids Nephew and The Young Master, Fox Appeal runs for Emma Lavelle, and Nigel Twiston-Davies fields Splash Of Ginge and Benbens.

Irish hopes are carried by Mouse Morris' veteran First Lieutenant and the Willie Mullins-trained Urano.

Peter Bowen's Al Co and Colin Tizzard's Theatre Guide, third to Triolo D'Alene two years ago, complete the field.