What is it?
It is jumps racing's ultimate test of speed and stamina and the flagship event of the Cheltenham Festival: the Gold Cup.
When is it?
The Gold Cup is the prize race on the final day of the Festival, which is Friday March 13 this year. There have been proposals about extending the Festival to a fifth day, but we are sticking to the usual format for the time being.
What TV channel is it on?
All the main races will be shown live on ITV1 and if you want to watch every single race then Racing TV is the channel you need. You will also be able to follow the action on Telegraph Sport's live blog.
What time is it?
The runners and riders will go to post for a 3.30pm start time.
Why is the Gold Cup so prestigious?
The Gold Cup is a steeplechase run over fences and the undulations of Prestbury Park racecourse. The distance of the race is three miles two-and-a-half furlongs, one mile less in trip than April's Grand National at Aintree.
While the Grand National might be the nation's most popular race, the Gold Cup produces a higher quality of winner because of the turn of foot required to prevail over the shorter distance. It does however, require more stamina than the shorter Queen Mother Champion Chase. That makes it the greatest test in jump racing, combined with the sapping finish up the Cheltenham hill to the winning post. Al Boum Photo won last year's race for Willie Mullins.
— CheltenhamRacecourse (@CheltenhamRaces) March 15, 2019
What are the other races on Friday?
1.30pm, JCB Triumph Hurdle (Grade 1), 2m 179y, £125,000
2.10pm, Randox Health County Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3), 2m 179y, £100,000
2.50pm, Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle (Grade 1), 2m 7f 213y, £125,000
4.10pm, St James's Place Foxhunter Chase, 3m 2f 70y, £45,000
4.50pm, Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Handicap Chase (Grade 3), 2m 62y, £110,000
5.30pm, Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle (0-145), 2m 4f 56y, £70,000
What is the latest news?
Al Boum Photo will face a maximum of 11 rivals when he bids for back-to-back Gold Cup victories.
Having saddled the runner-up on no less than six occasions, the Cheltenham Festival's winning-most trainer Willie Mullins finally claimed the most prestigious prize in National Hunt racing after Al Boum Photo roared up the hill in front 12 months ago.
Having warmed up for his return to the Cotswolds by winning the same New Year's Day race at Tramore as he did last year, the eight-year-old is well fancied to become the first horse to successfully defend the Gold Cup crown since Best Mate, who completed a hat-trick between 2002 and 2004.
Mullins has a notable string to his bow in Kemboy, who made it no further than the first fence in last year's renewal, but was impressive on his next start at Aintree and defeated Al Boum Photo in a Punchestown Gold Cup that will forever be remembered as Ruby Walsh's swansong.
However, he has had to make do with minor honours on each of his two starts this season behind Delta Work, who will bid to provide his trainer Gordon Elliott with a second Gold Cup, following the triumph of Don Cossack four years ago.
Pat Kelly's Presenting Percy was favourite for the blue riband last season, but needs to raise his game after finishing behind Delta Work and Kemboy in the Savills Chase and the Irish Gold Cup this term.
The Irish challenge is completed by the Mullins-trained Real Steel and Henry de Bromhead's pair of Monalee and Chris's Dream.
The home team is headed by Nicky Henderson's Santini, who has long been considered a Gold Cup contender, and has joined Al Boum Photo at the head of the market since defeating Bristol De Mai in the Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham in late January.
Paul Nicholls has high hopes for dual King George hero Clan Des Obeaux as he bids to equal Jim Dreaper's record of five Gold Cup wins, while Lostintranslation is a major player for Colin Tizzard, despite pulling up behind Clan Des Obeaux at Kempton on Boxing Day. Tizzard could also saddle Elegant Escape.
The stellar field is completed by the Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained Bristol De Mai. The dual Betfair Chase winner is winless after five previous outings at Cheltenham, but has been placed on four occasions, including when third in last year's Gold Cup.
What are the odds?
Al Boum Photo 7/2
Last year's winner is aiming to become the first horse since Best Mate to win consecutive Gold Cups.
Well fancied at previous festivals, the Nicky Henderson-trained chaser emerged the victor against Bristol De Mai in the Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham in January. Henderson has suggested soft ground is not ideal, so backers will hope the weather dries up.
Delta Work 5/1
The best of the Irish contingent for Gordon Elliott and winner of the Irish Gold Cup in February.
Finished second to Defi Du Seuil in the JLT Novices Chase at last year's festival and relished the step up trip when beating Topofthegame over three miles at Aintree. A glorious jumper but pulled up in the King George on Boxing Day.
Clan Des Obeaux 7/1
King George winner but Cheltenham is not the happiest hunting ground with no Festival wins for the eight-year-old. Finished fifth in last year's Gold Cup.
Well fancied for last year's race when he unseated his rider, but went on to beat Al Boum Photo and Clan Des Obeaux at Aintree and Punchestown later in the season. Two seconds behind Delta Work in Ireland this campaign.
Presenting Percy 10/1
Viewed as a strong contender for the Gold Cup, the early favourite in fact, after winning the RSA Novices' Chase in 2018, Presenting Percy never traveled in last year's race and returned lame.
Are tickets still available?
Yes, a range of different tickets are available to purchase for all four days and you can find the details on the Jockey Club's website.
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