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Page last updated at 08:28 GMT, Friday, 13 March 2009
Cheltenham, 10-13 March, 2009

Totesport Gold Cup
3m 2f, Cheltenham, Friday 13 March 1520 GMT
Number, form, horse's name, age, weight, trainer, jockey.
Odds are a guide for information purposes only.

By Oliver Brett

Verdict: This race should have been Kauto Star v Denman, the re-match. But both horses have been below par this term, Denman in particular, and it might be time for another Paul Nicholls horse, NEPTUNE COLLONGES, to win a really big race.


Pinsticker's choice:
1 Neptune Collonges 2 Kauto Star 3 Exotic Dancer

1 1-225 AIR FORCE ONE 7 11-10
Charlie Mann Noel Fehily
Only good enough for fifth in the RSA Chase here last year, and though he has won twice since then his most recent outing - fifth to Kauto Star in the King George - again showed his limitations.

Rating: 6/10 Odds: 20-1

2 3-4P2 ALBERTAS RUN 8 11-10
Jonjo O'Neill Dominic Elsworth
Justified favouritism when winning the RSA Chase 12 months ago and second to Kauto Star in the King George. But weak in between and needs genuinely good ground to have a real chance.

Rating: 6/10 Odds: 16-1

3 21-21 BARBERS SHOP 7 11-10
Nicky Henderson Barry Geraghty
Has done little wrong, with three wins and three seconds in seven starts over fences. The Queen's first Gold Cup runner will attract patriotic cash but needs a monstrous training performance to figure.

Rating: 6/10 Odds: 12-1

4 50PP- CERIUM 8 11-10
Paul Murphy Keith Mercer
Six poor performances since winning at Ascot in November 2006. Don't waste your cash on this one.

Rating: 3/10 Odds: 1000-1

5 111-2 DENMAN 9 11-10
Paul Nicholls Sam Thomas
The cast-iron form he showed up until crushing his stablemate last year was rudely turned on its head when a heart operation sidelined him for 11 months and left him with just one prep race. Finished 23 lengths behind Madison du Berlais at Kempton but many punters think he can still do it again.

Rating: 8/10 Odds: 6-1

6 3-231 EXOTIC DANCER 9 11-10
Jonjo O'Neill Tony McCoy
The Lexus Chase win in December was an important victory for a horse that usually finds one or two too good for him. Has finished second to Kauto Star three times. Just seems to lack the X factor.

Rating: 7/10 Odds: 10-1

7 2-232 HALCON GENELARDAIS 9 11-10
Alan King Robert Thornton
The feeling pervades that, though consistent, he just lacks the class to win at the Festival. Has never won any race at Cheltenham, for instance, and was pulled up in the 2007 Gold Cup.

Rating: 5/10 Odds: 50-1

8 2-1U1 KAUTO STAR 9 11-10
Paul Nicholls Ruby Walsh
You might have heard of him. Winner of this before passing the crown onto Denman last year, he was beaten by Our Vic weeks later at Aintree, and unseated Sam Thomas last November. Despite his customary Boxing Day success, enough doubt to oppose.

Rating: 8/10 Odds: 15-8

9 UP-10 KNOWHERE 11 11-10
Nigel Twiston-Davies Paddy Brennan
Like many Twiston-Davies horses, he is almost unbeatable early in the season, but tends to fade afterwards. And at 11 everything would tell you he is too old to be a contender for this.

Rating: 4/10 Odds: 100-1

10 F-611 MADISON DU BERLAIS 8 11-10
David Pipe Tom Scudamore
He is no lover of Cheltenham's undulations, and would barely be worth considering were it not for his two recent successes, both of which surprised the punters.

Rating: 6/10 Odds: 9-1

11 2P-0U MIKO DE BEAUCHENE 9 11-10
Robert & Sally Alner Andrew Thornton
Has had his moments in the past, but has been in wretched form this season. One to avoid.

Rating: 4/10 Odds: 100-1

12 23/-5MY WILL 9 11-10
Paul Nicholls Nick Scholfield
An unknown quantity, who has had just one race since April 2007, when coming fifth in the Hennessy last November at 33-1. Needs to find plenty.

Rating: 4/10 Odds: 100-1

13 131-F NEPTUNE COLLONGES 8 11-10
Paul Nicholls Christian Williams
Popular grey who has won 10 of his 17 chases in all, he is a real Jekyll and Hyde when it comes to jumping. Assuming he gets it right, this can be his year, taking into account the imperfect preparation of his more vaunted stablemates.

Rating: 8/10 Odds: 5-1

14 5-13P ROLL ALONG 9 11-10
Carl Llewellyn Graham Lee
Won an early-season handicap at Ascot, but two poor performances subsequently leave him well exposed here.

Rating: 4/10 Odds: 50-1

15 1320P SNOOPY LOOPY 11 11-10
Peter BowenSeamus Durack
Enjoying a fine autumn to his career, but his only previous Festival appearance was four years ago when he disappointed.

Rating: 5/10 Odds: 100-1

16 3-024 STAR DE MOHAISON 8 11-10
Paul Nicholls Timmy Murphy
So impressive as a novice, he won the RSA Chase in 2006, a year in which he won five straight races. Was then badly disrupted by a tendon injury and will struggle to feature.

Rating: 5/10 Odds: 25-1

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see also
Denman & Kauto set for Gold Cup
13 Mar 09 |  Horse Racing
Denman dismissed as Gold Cup hope
07 Mar 09 |  Horse Racing
Thomas dreaming of golden repeat
08 Mar 09 |  Horse Racing
Pipe backs Madison for Gold Cup
26 Feb 09 |  Horse Racing
BBC racing coverage
09 Apr 11 |  Horse Racing

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