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Cheltenham: Gold Cup runners and riders

Totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup
3m 2½f, Cheltenham, Friday 18 March 1520 GMT
Number, form, horse's name, age, weight, trainer, jockey.
Odds are a guide for information purposes only.

By Frank Keogh

VERDICT: A fascinating contest with the rare sight of three previous Gold Cup winners, including last year's champion Imperial Commander, taking each other on. Kauto Star and Denman will go down as two of the all-time best steeplechasers and victory for either would bring a tear to the eye.

But time catches up with us all and PANDORAMA could spring a surprise, with Long Run, What A Friend, Kempes and Midnight Chase capable of running well.

Pinstickers' choice:
1. Pandorama 2. Long Run 3. What A Friend

1 1-4FP ALBERTAS RUN 10 11-10
Jonjo O'Neill NON-RUNNER
Trainer pulled him out of the field after horse won Thursday's Ryanair Chase.
Rating: -/-- Odds: N/A

2 2-664 CARRUTHERS 8 11-10
Mark Bradstock Mattie Batchelor
Ran a fine race making much of the running before finishing fourth in the 2010 Gold Cup. Big price although will need things to fall his way if he is to sneak a place this time and there is the suspicion that ground conditions would need to be wetter for him to thrive.
Rating: 6/10 Odds: 66-1

3 -1134 CHINA ROCK 8 11-10
Mouse Morris IRE Barry Geraghty
Third behind Kauto Star and Sizing Europe at Down Royal in November, with that runner-up going on to win the Champion Chase on Wednesday. Trainer had 2006 Gold Cup winner War of Attrition and is a canny operator. Horse deserves place in field although would need to improve to make the frame.
Rating: 7/10 Odds: 25-1

4 U24-3 DENMAN 11 11-10
Paul Nicholls Sam Thomas
Hugely popular horse, known as The Tank, for his no-nonsense galloping heroics. 'What's that coming over the hill, is it a monster, no it's Denman' is what his fans sing. Won the Gold Cup in 2008, twice claimed the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury off big weights and third in that race in November. Kept fresh for this.
Rating: 8/10 Odds: 13-2

Nigel Twiston-Davies Paddy Brennan
Jockey raised his finger to his lips as he passed the winning line first on this locally-trained horse in 2010. He had silenced the hype which had billed the contest as a two-horse race - Kauto v Denman. Won Betfair Chase at Haydock in November. Not raced since.
Rating: 8/10 Odds: 7-2

6 1F-13 KAUTO STAR 11 11-10
Paul Nicholls Ruby Walsh
Will be honest with you here and say Kauto Star is a personal favourite racehorse of mine. I'm not alone. He has won four King George VI Chases and two Gold Cups. Has defied critics many times in the past, but I think this might just be a race too far. My heart will be with him, if not my head.
Rating: 8/10 Odds: 11-2

7 P1-3U1 KEMPES 8 11-10
Willie Mullins AP McCoy
Trainer has told me that he could well finish in the first three, is improving and will appreciate drying ground. Owner JP McManus and trainer Willie Mullins have never won the Gold Cup and jockey, the BBC Sports Personality of the Year, has only claimed the race once, in 1997 on Master Mulligan.
Rating: 8/10 Odds: 11-1

8 13-31 LONG RUN (FR) 6 11-10
Nicky Henderson Sam Waley-Cohen
Brilliant winner of the rescheduled King George VI Chase at Kempton in January when he thwarted Kauto Star's attempt at a record fifth straight win in the race. Has never been out of the first three in his career and has very capable amateur jockey, a friend of royal bride-to-be Kate Middleton, on board. Dangerous if jumping holds up.
Rating: 9/10 Odds: 9-2

9 41111 MIDNIGHT CHASE 9 11-10
Neil Mulholland Tom Scudamore
May be written off by some as a mere handicapper but his Cheltenham form makes you sit up and take notice. From six runs at track, he has won four times and been second and third. New jockey booking after regular partner Dougie Costello was injured in a fall at Stratford on Monday.
Rating: 8/10 Odds: 14-1

10 4/B01 NEPTUNE COLLONGES 10 11-10
Paul Nicholls Robert Thornton
Third in 2008 Gold Cup when just edged out for second by Kauto Star, behind winner Denman in a stable 1-2-3. Showed his well-being when a winner at Cheltenham in January. Because of age and ground, he is one of the less likely winners for me.
Rating: 6/10 Odds: 33-1

11 11-P1 PANDORAMA 8 11-10
Noel Meade Paul Carberry
Has crucial piece of form in December 2009 where he beat Weapon's Amnesty, who subsequently had Long Run in third when landing RSA Chase. Owner Robert Bagnall, who has a hotel in Kinnegad, near where lots of my Irish relatives live, thinks the world of him. Would be trainer and jockey's first Gold Cup win.
Rating: 9/10 Odds: 12-1

12 4-322 TIDAL BAY 10 11-10
Howard Johnson Brian Hughes
Closed on Imperial Commander when second in Betfair Chase at Haydock in November. Not the easiest horse to work out but did win the 2008 Arkle Chase and was fourth in the following year's Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.
Rating: 7/10 Odds: 20-1

13 11-18 WEIRD AL 8 11-10
Ian Williams Jason Maguire
Featured in my Ten to Follow for season and dead heated on seasonal return with Little Josh, who went on to win Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham. Won twice at track in 2009 and has only lost once in five races over fences when disappointing in Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury. Never run on ground faster than good to soft.
Rating: 7/10 Odds: 20-1

14 11-52 WHAT A FRIEND 8 11-10
Paul Nicholls Daryl Jacob
Part-owned by Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson, he has not gone on as expected so far this season. However, he appears to thrive on good ground and is being fitted with blinkers for the first time, which worked for the trainer's 1999 Gold Cup winner See More Business.
Rating: 8/10 Odds: 25-1

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see also
Racing's new order
17 Mar 11 |  Horse Racing
Long Run clinches Gold Cup glory
18 Mar 11 |  Horse Racing
Imperial Commander lands Gold Cup
19 Mar 10 |  Horse Racing
BBC racing coverage
09 Apr 11 |  Horse Racing
Cheltenham Festival 2011 schedule
23 Feb 11 |  Horse Racing
Horse Racing results on your mobile
15 Feb 10 |  Horse Racing

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