Leading owner Robert Ogden relies on Kingsmark and Ad Hoc in his bid to check the Martin Pipe-trained Lady Cricket in Saturday’s Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup at Newbury.

This 44th running of Newbury’s pre-Christmas showpiece is the most competitive race of the season so far.

Kingsmark ran away with Haydock’s Edward Hanmer Chase and will again be ridden by conditional jockey David Dennis.

Ad Hoc has been a leading fancy ever since falling at the final fence in the Wincanton race. Timmy Murphy, who has been to Paul Nicholls’s stable to school Ad Hoc, rides on Saturday.

Lady Cricket took the Thomas Pink Gold Cup at Cheltenham a fortnight ago in fine style. Pipe and owner David Johnson have reservations as to whether their mare will stay this three and a quarter miles.

Recent Cheltenham winner Foxchapel King, trained by Mouse Morris, and Willie Mullins’s Alexander Bouquet represent Irish interests.

Mullins said: “I very much hope Alexander Bouquet will turn out bea Gold Cup horse. The Hennessy looks tough but we have to start him off somewhere.”

Nigel Twiston Davies saddles top weight Beau, third to Foxchapel King, and King’s Road. Stable jockey Carl Llewellyn has plumped for Beau leaving King’s Road in the hands of Jamie Goldstein.

The opening clash between promising novices Ask The Natives, Bacchanal and Wahiba Sands will tell us a lot about the up and coming chasers in the Fulke Walwyn Chase.