THE Cheltenham Gold Cup is one of the most watched races in the world as all trainers, owners and jockeys alike dream of winning this prestigious race.
Leading the market is the Willie Mullins-trained Galopin Des Champs who is sure to attract plenty of Irish support.
This favourite could be an absolute superstar in the making and could well win this race easily but I have not decided to go against him as stamina could well test his credentials.
Paul Nicholls’ gelding Bravemansgame was very impressive winning the King George at Kempton on St Stephens Day and is probably the best jumper in the field.
Last year’s winner A Plus Tard won the race by a massive 15 lengths after an excellent patient ride from Rachael Blackmore to hold him up until driving through a gap before jumping the second last and taking off from the rest of the pack to win easily.
It would be silly to rule him out but he only had one race this season where he was pulled up in the Betfair Chase at Haydock in November.
Stattler is next and this eight-year-old trained by Willie Mullins easily won last year at this meeting in the National Hunt Chase. This is by far a stiffer test but he showed his class by finishing second behind Galopin Des Champs in the Irish Gold Cup this season.
Noble Yeats trained by Emmet Mullins recorded a huge career win last year when winning the Grand National at Aintree. On his most recent run, he was third here at Cheltenham in the Grade 2 Cotswold Chase but this horse will be better over a longer distance of three miles.
After studying the form the Gordon Elliott-trained Conflated has been a great servant for Gigginstown House Stud and he’s had a great prep this season and could well surprise the leading lights.
Conflated was third beaten only four lengths on his seasonal reappearance in the Ladbrokes champion chase in Down Royal back in November.
He then went on to win the Savills Chase at Leopardstown in their Christmas meeting and with Youghal man Davy Russell a classy pilot I think he is ready and will take all the beating.
Protektorat, Ahoy Senor, Minella Indo, Hewick and Sounds Russian have all earned their right to be in this race but I just think they are a class below the rest.
The Triumph Hurdle is the most highly anticipated juvenile race of the year and Willie Mullins has the first three horses in the betting and it will be hard to look beyond this trio.
Blood Destiny and Lossiemouth are very close in the betting with Gala Marceau just behind them. Blood Destiny was bought in France by Mullins in November and was seen quickly after when he won romped home at Cork.
But my pick for the race is Lossiemouth who was beaten by Gala Marceau at the Dublin racing festival.
The unbeaten Mullins’ Mare Lossiemouth was electric on her first run of the season for the champion trainer until she got caught behind a horse at the Dublin racing festival.
The Albert Bartlett is a wide-open race as there can be a case made for plenty of horses but my selection for the race is Shanbally kid trained by Willie Mullins.
Another horse at a bigger price and a good each-way bet is Saint Palais for trainer Richard Bandey.