CHELTENHAM hosts a wonderful day of action on Friday, with the Cheltenham Gold Cup taking pride of place as the feature race.
We've all got all you need to know about the biggest meeting of the year right here.
Race 1 – 1.30 JCB Triumph Hurdle (Grade 1)
All eyes will be on SIR EREC in the opening race of Gold Cup day.
The high-class Flat recruit has taken to hurdling like a duck to water and had plenty in hand when winning a Grade 1 at Leopardstown last time.
All ground comes alike (he was a good third to Stradivarius on the Flat at Ascot on soft ground) and he is considered by many to be the Irish banker of the week.
You can't knock Quel Destin's attitude, and Paul Nicholls' star has rattled up five straight wins over hurdles this winter.
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He has yet to face a rival of Sir Erec's calibre but he should give the favourite a race at the very least.
Pic D'Orhy has been something of a talking horse and he is one to note, particularly if strong in the betting.
Tiger Tap Tap and Gardens Of Babylon enter calculations for each-way purposes.
VERDICT – 1. Sir Erec 2. Quel Destin 3. Pic D'Orhy
Race 2 – 2.10 Randox Health County Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3)
A cracking renewal of this £100,000 cavalry charge, in which Whiskey Sour is the clear favourite.
He was third in this last year off 2lb lower and should be firmly in the mix once again.
He makes limited appeal at the prices, though, and preference is for Dan Skelton's CH'TIBELLO.
His trainer has won two of the last three renewals of this, he has plenty of back-class and arrives fresh from a wind-op off a good mark.
Mr Adjudicator was last seen running second to the Champion Hurdle hero Espoir D'Allen and he was second in last year's Triumph.
He commands respect, while the progressive Crooks Peak, talented seven-year-old Western Ryder and the lightly-raced Countister are others to consider closely.
VERDICT – 1. Ch'tibello 2. Mr Adjudicator 3. Crooks Peak
Race 3 – 2.50 Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle (Grade 1)
Nicky Henderson holds a strong hand here with Birchdale and Dickie Diver.
Of the two, I prefer the claims of the latter who bolted up at Chepstow in the style of a very exciting prospect.
Lisnagar Oscar has put Rebecca Curtis back on the map this season and he is improving all the time.
Allaho bolted up at Clonmel last month and Derrinross arrives seeking a hat-trick, so neither can be ruled out.
But COMMANDER OF FLEET has looked a lovely prospect and looks to have the best piece of form on his Grade 1 win at Leopardstown.
He will relish the step up to 3m and he is a tough cookie in a battle – just the sort of horse you need for this race.
VERDICT – 1. Commander Of Fleet 2. Dickie Diver 3. Lisnagar Oscar
Race 4 – 3.30 Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup Chase (Grade 1)
The feature race of the meeting has lived up to it's billing with a superb field set to go to post.
Presenting Percy has been towards the head of the betting since his demolition of a good field in the RSA Chase in 2018.
His preparation (with just one run over hurdles) has been far from ideal, and in a strongly-run Gold Cup any rustiness in the jumping department will be exposed.
Native River is back to defend his crown after an ultra-game defeat of Might Bite 12 months ago.
He has been far from disgraced in the Betfair Chase and King George this season and the rain has come in time for him.
The improving Kemboy was allowed a soft lead when winning the Savills Chase in December and there are stamina concerns with him.
Bellshill, on the other hand, will stay all day, but he looks vulnerable for win purposes.
CLAN DES OBEAUX has been one of the stars of the season, winning a red-hot King George and following up in bloodless fashion at Ascot in February.
He is improving with each start, he has good form at this course (albeit without winning) and he goes on any ground.
Trainer Paul Nicholls knows a Gold Cup winner when he sees one, and the vibes around this horse have been strong in recent weeks.
VERDICT – 1. Clan Des Obeaux 2. Native River 3. Presenting Percy
Race 5 – 4.10 St. James's Place Foxhunter Challenge Cup Open Hunters' Chase
I confess this is not a race that I have a great deal of interest in.
But the profilic ROAD TO ROME won in an absolute canter when last sighted at Haydock.
He is unbeaten since joining Joe O'Shea and he has the services of a top amateur.
Stand Up And Fight and Caid Du Berlais are like contenders, while Pacha Du Polder is worth a market check as he chases a third straight win in this race.
VERDICT – 1. Road To Rome 2. Stand Up And Fight 3. Caid Du Berlais
Race 6 – 4.50 Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Challenge Cup Handicap Chase (Grade 3)
MARRACUDJA looks to have been laid out for this race by Dan Skelton.
The eight-year-old has gradually regained his form this season, and he was beaten just a nose in a good race at Wetherby when last sighted.
He returns from a break (which is a plus given his good record fresh) having undergone a wind op, he is below his last winning mark and he goes well at this track.
Whatswrongwithyou is in red-hot form and should go close with a strongly-run race sure to suit.
Le Prezien won this last year off 1lb lower so has to enter calculations, for all he jumped like a yak at Sandown last time out.
Not Another Muddle was impressive at Sandown and that form has been boosted, while Bun Doran wouldn't be without a squeak if putting his best foot forward.
Magic Saint has been well-supported in recent weeks and has a solid chance, but he is skinny enough at the head of the betting.
VERDICT – 1. Marracudja 2. Whatswrongwithyou 3. Not Another Muddle
Race 7 – 5.30 Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle
DALLAS DES PICTONS represents powerful connections and looks well-treated off a mark of 140.
He has a top conditional on board and everything looks in place for a big run.
Pym got his head back in front at Kempton and is another who appeals of a decent mark.
Early Doors in JP McManus's sole runner in this race, and he takes a big drop in class having chased home Apple's Jade last time.
Acapella Bourgeois is another on a good rating, while Big Time Dancer and Doctor Dex also enter calculations in the Festival finale.
VERDICT – 1. Dallas Des Pictons 2. Pym 3. Early Doors
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