Hennessy Gold Cup favourite Bobs Worth's participation in Saturday's big race will not be confirmed until trainer Nicky Henderson has walked the course at Newbury and spoken with connections.
The trainer was inspecting the Berkshire track on Tuesday afternoon as he is worried about potentially heavy ground and wanted time to mull over his thoughts. A dual Cheltenham Festival winner, Bobs Worth has not been seen since beating First Lieutenant in the RSA Chase last March.
He said: "We're nervous about it (the ground) and I can't just make a decision. I'd have to say there's an element of doubt and I'll walk the course in the afternoon and then talk to the owners. The gallops here are as soft as I've ever seen, but he has been very happy up the grass and worked today.
"Newbury was the obvious place to go, so we'll have to see. After that, there's only the intermediate chase at Sandown next week, but I don't want to run him right-handed. He won't go for the King George, but I will make an entry for the Lexus over Christmas, as they do sometimes get decent ground at Leopardstown."
Henderson's other Hennessy entry, the Irish recruit and recent Ascot winner Roberto Goldback, will not be running.
"The handicapper decided to put him up 13lb for Ascot, when all that happened was that it was his first run on decent ground," he said. "I'm inclined to run him in the two-and-a-half-mile race at Newbury on the Friday (Sportingbet Open Handicap Chase)."
Jamie Moore expects Fruity O'Rooney to be up for a good run on Saturday but believes he faces a tough task. Moore rides the nine-year-old for his father Gary and the jockey feels Fruity O'Rooney has come on for his recent reappearance over hurdles at Cheltenham.
"He had a spin round over hurdles and ran well for a long way. The handicapper was a bit harsh. He hadn't won off a mark that high over hurdles," he told At The Races.
"He whacked him up to his chase mark over hurdles and humped 11st 12lb for his first run of the season. It found him out and he's only small.
"He's in great form at the minute and his work's been good. He'll be spot on for Newbury and 10st 5lb is a great weight to have in a competitive handicap run on testing ground. Whether he's quite good enough, he might not be but he'll give a good, bold show from the front. He wears his heart on his sleeve. He'll go on soft ground and the three-miles-two doesn't worry me."
19 December 2014Henderson hoping Bobs makes Lexus
Simonsig camp play the long game
In-form Mole buries Exeter rivals
Sedgefield hit with heavy fine
Star names check in for Ryanair
Bobs revved up for Lexus repeat
Knott disqualified for three years
Geraghty braced for power Serge
Geraghty excited by Josses return
Activial stars in Ladbroke field
18 December 2014Alvarado back for National service
Winner given Lexus go-ahead
Cheltenham dreams for King's Zero
Sivola bids for Long Walk hat-trick
Power plan uncertain for Westener
Kauto pleases in Olympia display
Mullins eyes twin assault on Lexus
Value oozes class in Newbury romp
Annie Power on road to recovery
Spencer strikes after U-turn
Vautour ready for next jumps test
Mullins banks on Faugheen progress
Victory set to skip Ladbroke
Mullins: Fever can go the distance
17 December 2014Sidelined Brian misses Whittle
Sceaux to sidestep Haydock raid
Square season derailed by injury
Lexus a non-starter for Clouds
Europe return hinges on ground
Injury woe for Cookson
Plans on hold for Topper
Appeal success for Russell/Enright
Mulholland makes Master plan
Cango makes Catterick impression
Field sizes under BHA microscope
Quinn outlines Aurore options
Legal laying down the law at Ludlow
Ground dictates Attaglance plans
King heartened by Walkon return
Cross set Christmas conundrum
16 December 2014Pipe bowled over by Palace
Cole to duck Leopardstown mission
Pipe bowled over by Palace
Arbuthnot has Starluck options
Geraghty taken with weekend Heroes
Moore the merrier at Plumpton
Estrella back with a bang
Options fluid for Hargam
Lough set for Lexus workout
Sceaux in Haydock frame
Victoire at Ladbroke summit
Five left in Long Walk