The road to Cheltenham is almost at the end with just two weeks to go now until the biggest show in equine sport gets underway at Prestbury Park.
The feature race of the week will of course be the Cheltenham Gold Cup and all eyes will be on Native River as he bids to become the first horse since Best Mate to defend the most important race on the national hunt calendar.
Great horses, including Kauto Star, Long Run and Denman among others, have all tried and failed to win the Gold Cup in successive years since Henrietta Knight did it with her famed chaser back in the early part of the century but there are those that believe Native River can break the drought.
The Colin Tizzard trained chaser came out on top of a famous duel with Might Bite last year to claim the win in famous style and given that he is still only nine, there is every chance he can be in the frame once again.
A former winner of the Welsh National, Native River has not looked quite at his best this season but connections are confident of another big run with the horse unlikely to be left wanting in terms of fitness.
The key to his chances will be the weather forecast with rain needed if the horse is to be seen at his best with stamina the strong point of one of the best animals in training. We have seen the horse outpaced on better ground this winter with the dry weather counting against his chances but should we get a deluge at Prestbury Park in the days leading up to the race, don't rule out Native River joining Best Mate in the pantheon of Cheltenham Gold cup legends.