Paul Nolan’s stable star Joncol and Noel Meade’s Muirhead are the two Irish entries in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury next Saturday.
Joncol, the winner of the Irish Hennessy last year and also a winner on his reappearance at Thurles earlier this month, will shoulder 11st 6lbs, behind only topweight Neptune Collonges of the Paul Nicholls yard.
Muirhead, on the other hand, will attempt to follow up his victory in the Munster National at Cork in October off an attractive looking 10-4.
The eight-year-old was once a high-class hurdler, winning the Grade 1 Royal Bond at Fairyhouse four years ago, but he has struggled to replicate that type of form over fences and subsequent to his win in the Munster National he finished a well-beaten eighth in the United House Gold Cup at Ascot three weeks ago.
Joncol is available at 14/1 while Muirhead is a best-priced 40/1 with Stan James.
The Nicholls-trained Aiteen Thirtythree, who boasts an impressive two wins and two seconds from four runs around Newbury, is the ante-post favourite at 11/2, with Wymott, Michel Le Bon – another Nicholls inmate – and last week’s Paddy Power Handicap Chase hero Great Endeavour all hovering around the 7/1 mark.
Like Nicholls, Philip Hobbs also has three entries – Planet of Sound, Fair Along and Balthazar – while other notable entries include Wayward Price from the Ian Williams stable and Tim Vaughan’s Beshabar.
Hennessy Gold Cup entries:
Neptune Collonges, Joncol, Planet of Sound, Sarando, Aiteen Thirtythree, Blazing Bailey, Great Endeavour, Beshabar, Wayward Prince, Carruthers, Michel Le Bon, Muirhead, The Giant Bolster, Wymott, Fair Along, Balthazar King, Tullamore Dew, Billie Magern, Qhilimar.