The Stars Line Up for Gold Cup Show Down
Great rivals Long Run and Kauto Star head the betting for the Cheltenham Gold Cup at 5-2 and 4-1 respectively, following the latest entry stage for the jumping showpiece. Top novice Grand Crus is next at 9-1, ahead of Synchronised at 10-1.
Both star names appeared among a total of 34 entries for the blue riband event on the final day of The Festival, with the score currently standing at 2-2, as Nicky Henderson's Long Run was successful in the King George and Cheltenham Gold Cup last season.
However, the Paul Nicholls-trained Kauto Star has already created history once by becoming the first horse to reclaim the Gold Cup and he saw off Long Run by eight lengths at Haydock and reclaimed his King George crown.
Henderson has also entered long-term absentee Burton Port and surprisingly Finian's Rainbow, while Nicholls could run What A Friend, who was fourth 12 months ago, Tidal Bay, Poquelin and The Minack.
David Pipe's novice Grands Crus is regarded by some as a potential fly in the ointment for the big two, as he managed to beat all bar the seemingly-unbeatable Big Buck's over hurdles last term and has taken to fences seamlessly, with a Grade One win already under his belt. Pipe may also run Junior, a Festival winner last term.
Last year's Arkle winner Captain Chris ran a respectable race when third in the King George after an interrupted preparation and will aim to give Philip Hobbs a first win in the race.
Willie Mullins has entered Apt Approach, Quel Esprit and The Midnight Club while Magnanimity could run for Dessie Hughes.
Also there is China Rock, who was in the process of running a massive race last season when he picked up an injury.
"China Rock is running over hurdles at Punchestown on Saturday and we hope that he can head to Cheltenham once again as he was in the process of running a big race before breaking down in the Gold Cup last year," said his trainer Mouse Morris.
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