2019 Cheltenham Gold Cup Preview - Stellar Cast Line Up For Cheltenham Festival Showpiece
We have reached the final day of the Cheltenham Festival and the showpiece race of the entire week will take centre stage at 3:30pm as 16 runners go to post for the 2019 Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup, and we are in for an epic renewal.
Dual festival winner Presenting Percy will fly the flag for the Irish in the blue riband event, but the Pat Kelly-trained star will need to produce a career best if he is to get the better of last year's champion Native River, who is looking to emulate the mighty Best Mate by winning back-to-back Gold Cups.
Presenting Percy has not been seen over fences this season, so he will face a tough test, while the rain that has hit Prestbury Park this week will suit reigning champion Native River, who is vying for favouritism and the Colin Tizzard-trained star will want the rain to keep falling at the Gloucestershire venue.
Paul Nicholls will be aiming to add more Gold Cup glory to his CV and the master of Ditcheat will saddle Clan Des Obeaux, who has arguably been the form staying chaser this season. A superb win in the King George VI Chase at Kempton Park on Boxing Day was followed by an easy win in the Denman Chase at Ascot, so he adds more depth at the head of the market.
Willie Mullins is yet to taste victory in the Cheltenham Gold Cup and the Closutton handler will unleash a four-pronged attack at Friday's race and Bellshill, Kemboy and Al Boum Photo all have smart form in the book and can play significant roles in what should be a real energy-sapping contest.
As well as Native River, Tizzard will saddle Thistlecrack, who bounced back to form when chasing home Clan Des Obeaux in the King George VI Chase over Christmas, while last year's runner-up Might Bite will be eager to bounce back from some poor efforts this season, but the former RSA Chase hero can't be ignored in what should be an epic spectacle.
A sparkling seven-race card will take place on the last day of the festival with the Triumph Hurdle (1:30pm) and Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle (2:50pm) just another brace of top-class Grade 1 events, but all eyes will be on the Gold Cup at 3:30pm and it's set to be a corker.
Cheltenham Festival Day Four Schedule
1:30pm - Triumph Hurdle
2:10pm - County Hurdle
2:50pm - Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle
3:30pm - CHELTENHAM GOLD CUP
4:10pm - Foxhunters' Chase
4:50pm - Grand Annual Chase