The undoubted jewel in the crown of the festival is the Gold Cup, which even has its own day dedicated to it.
This renewal has played host to some of horse racing’s most iconic moments: the Arkle hat-trick from 1964-66 cementing a spot in the sport’s pantheon for one of its most loved performers. Desert Orchid, Best Mate, Kauto Star and Bob’s Worth are all former winners as well.
This year’s reprisal looks set to be an exhilarating contest too, with a trio of Willie Mullins charges – Don Poli, Djakadam and Vautour – taking on the Gordon Elliott hope of Don Cossack. It is this second of the Dons that has taken up bookies favouritism, and that’s no surprise given that he has won nine of his last eleven starts.
But a fall in the prestigious King George VI Chase – usually a fantastic precursor to Cheltenham – has left many wondering if Don Cossack is up to the big occasion.
The winner of the King George VI Chase was Cue Card, who enters here as a generous-looking 11/2 (Paddy Power) hope for Colin Tizzard’s yard. Three wins on the spin – including that Boxing Day triumph – have allayed suspicions of a horse that had almost the entire 2014 campaign off the track.
Of the Mullins charges, it is perhaps Vautour (5/1, Bet365) who stands out the most. Nine wins in eleven – including the Novices’ Hurdle Chase here last year – have marked the seven-year-old out as one to watch, however a second-place finish last time out (again in that King George VI Chase) on is longest run to date has raised a few eyebrows.
Whichever way you spin it, this looks a fantastic way to bring down the curtain on the Grade One races at the Cheltenham Festival.