Golden Miller, Cottage Rake, Arkle and Best Mate. A quartet of triple Gold Cup winners that could well be a quintet by the close of play on Friday, should Al Boum Photo’s date with destiny end with victory.
The nine-year-old unexpectedly ended Willie Mullins’ barren run in this contest, winning the 2019 edition at odds of 12/1.
The Closutton trainer then saw two Gold Cups come at once, when his gelding claimed back-to-back successes at Prestbury Park a year later.
However, it could be a big ask to claim a third straight success, with several talented runners hoping to dethrone the current victory at the Gloucestershire track.
Nicky Henderson’s Champ sent the racing world into a frenzy last month, with a classy performance in the Game Spirit Chase.
The contest is considered to be a prep race for the Champion Chase, but the nine-year-old showed his versatility and ran a cracker in second behind Sceau Royal.
Henderson’s runner has a strong Festival record as well, finishing runner-up in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle in 2019 before making a near-miraculous late charge in the RSA Chase last year to win.
Stable companion Santini joins him, with the hope of going one better this time around after finishing behind Al Boum Photo by a neck last season.
A Plus Tard carries interesting Cheltenham form into this contest as well, winning the now-defunct Listed Novices’ Handicap Chase before finishing a strong third in the Ryanair Chase last season.
Henry De Bromhead’s prospect showed his ability when landing a competitive Savills Chase at Christmas, and he could well be in the mix here.
Connection of the rapidly-improving Royale Pagaille have taken the gamble of heading to the Gold Cup, with Venetia Williams’s gelding aiming to be the second novice to win the race since 1974.
The seyen-year-old grabbed attention when he bolted up in the Peter Marsh Handicap Chase, winning by an eye-catching 16 lengths when top weight.
He is joined by veteran stablemate Aso, who is making his sixth Festival appearance.
Last season’s RSA Chase runner-up Minella Indo will be aiming to bounce back from his two disappointing runs in the Savills Chase and the Irish Gold Cup, while King George winner Frodon will be hoping to land an unprecedented double.
2018 winner Native River and dual Grade 1 winner Lostintranslation fly the banner for the Colin Tizzard yard, while Irish Gold Cup winner Kemboy is the second-string representative for Willie Mullins.
Tom George’s Black Op completes the field as the 100/1 outsider, with a sole chase victory under his belt.
A cracking renewal of the Gold Cup lies in wait on the closing day of the Festival.
Read our interview with 2010 Gold Cup winning pilot, Paddy Brennan.