Hennessy Gold Cup: Tidal Bay heads 19-strong final field
Tidal Bay heads a final field of 19 runners for Saturday's Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury.
The enigmatic 11-year-old, trained by Paul Nicholls, signed off last season with victory in the Bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown in April.
He then won on his return to action at Wetherby earlier this month.
Earlier, Nicholls will hope Big Buck's can secure his 18th consecutive victory when he bids to win the Long Distance Hurdle for the fourth year running.
The brilliant stayer has been unbeaten since unseating jockey Sam Thomas in the Hennessy four years ago.
Meanwhile, Triumph Hurdle winner Countrywide Flame and Supreme Novices' Hurdle victor Cinders and Ashes will clash in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle.
Tidal Bay, the mount of Ruby Walsh, will be looking to give Nicholls a fourth Hennessy triumph following the victories of Strong Flow in 2003 and Denman in 2007 and 2009.
The champion trainer also saddles Harry The Viking, who will be ridden by Daryl Jacob.
Ante-post favourite Bobs Worth lines up for Nicky Henderson and is joined by stable companion Roberto Goldback.
Recent Hennessy Gold Cup winners
- 2011: Carruthers
- 2010: Diamond Harry
- 2009: Denman
- 2008: Madison du Berlais
- 2007: Denman
- 2006: State of Play
- 2005: Trabolgan
- 2004: Celestial Gold
- 2003: Strong Flow
- 2002: Gingembre
Ireland are strongly represented with First Lieutenant, Magnanimity and Irish Grand National hero Lion Na Bearnai.
Last year's winner Carruthers will defend his title, while Diamond Harry aims to regain the title he won in 2010.
Other major contenders include Teaforthree - ridden by Tony McCoy - The Package and Hold On Julio.
Timmy Murphy was set to ride The Package for trainer David Pipe but will be replaced by Tom Scudamore after taking a heavy fall at Newbury on Friday.
The three withdrawals from the confirmation stage were Junior, who instead runs in the Rehearsal Chase at Newcastle on the same day, Planet Of Sound and Tatenen.
Hennessy Gold Cup field: Alfie Spinner, Bobs Worth, Carruthers, Diamond Harry, Duke Of Lucca, First Lieutenant, Frisco Depot, Fruity O'Rooney, Harry The Viking, Hold On Julio, Ikorodu Road, Lion Na Bearnai, Magnanimity, Roberto Goldback, Saint Are, Soll, Teaforthree, The Package, Tidal Bay.