Avant Tout could return at Down Royal or Naas ahead of Hennessey Gold Cup bid

Willie Mullins’s sole entry is favourite for Newbury race with Coneygree also entered

Avant Tout could return at Naas or Down Royal ahead of the Hennessey Gold Cup at Newbury. Photograph: Inpho

Avant Tout could return at Naas or Down Royal ahead of the Hennessey Gold Cup at Newbury. Photograph: Inpho

 

Leading Hennessy Gold Cup contender Avant Tout could make his seasonal reappearance at either Down Royal or Naas next weekend.

The Willie Mullins-trained six-year-old is a best-priced 10-1 joint-favourite for the prestigious Newbury handicap on November 26th, having signed off last season with an impressive success at the Punchestown Festival.

Mullins has yet to decide whether to give his charge a run beforehand, but the Powers Irish Whiskey Chase at Down Royal on Saturday week and the Poplar Square Chase at Naas the following afternoon are under consideration.

Steve Massey, racing manager for owners the Supreme Horse Racing Club, said: “Willie is very pleased with the horse and tells me he’s in very good shape.

“Willie is keen to keep his options open for the moment. He could go straight to the Hennessy, or he could have a prep run.

“We have various options, including races at Naas and Down Royal next weekend, so we’ll just have to wait and see what Willie decides.

“All his owners are ecstatic to be involved with a horse like him.

“Just to potentially have a runner in a race as prestigious as the Hennessy is fantastic, but to have one who looks to have a leading chance is incredible.”

Avant Tout is one of 58 entries for the £200,000 contest and is Mullins’ only possible runner.

There are eight Irish-trained contenders, with the rest split between Gordon Elliott and Noel Meade.

Elliott has former Mullins inmates Outlander and Roi Des Francs among a five-strong team, while Meade has put in Wounded Warrior and Monksland.

The home team is headed by last year’s Gold Cup hero Coneygree.

The exciting nine-year-old won twice over fences at Newbury during his Gold Cup season, including a fine display in the Denman Chase.

Champion trainer Paul Nicholls has eight entries to choose from as he bids for a fourth victory in the race.

They include Silviniaco Conti, Scottish Grand National hero Vicente and last year’s beaten favourite Saphir Du Rheu.

Other leading hopes include last year’s winner Smad Place, Blaklion, Native River and Grand National runner-up The Last Samuri.

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