Sizing John proves doubters wrong with Cheltenham Gold Cup win

Marcus Armytage
Robbie Power wins the Gold Cup on Sizing John - Andrew Boyers/Action Images

Sizing John gave the Irish further cause for celebration on St Patrick’s Day when he galloped relentlessly up the Cheltenham hill to beat Minella Rocco by two-and-three-quarter lengths in Friday’s Timico Gold Cup and inscribe his name on jump racing’s most celebrated honours board.

Trained by Kildare-based Jessica Harrington and ridden by Robbie Power, who had spent much of the season nursing a fractured cheek and eye-socket and the lingering consequence of that, double vision, the 7-1 shot landed in front at the second-last fence, winged the last and set determinedly about proving those critics who seriously questioned his stamina before the race wrong.

Added to two wins in the Champion Chase with Moscow Flyer and the Champion Hurdle with Jezki, it completed the set of Cheltenham’s Holy Trinity of races for Harrington.

For Power, as much a horseman as jockey who spends much of his summers competing in top level showjumping events, victory in jump racing’s blue riband came 10 years after he won the Grand National on Silver Birch.

Sizing John hits the front and takes the last Credit: REUTERS

Asked which was best he replied: “This. I was 25 when I won the National and thought I would win everything. I’m 35 now and realise I’m not going to win everything.”

The horse’s owner Alan Potts, who made his fortune designing ‘sizing’ machinery for the mining industry and began devoting a large proportion of it to buying National Hunt horses a dozen years ago, described the victory as ‘unreal.’

“It’s been the dream since we got into this 12 years ago,” he explained. “I invest heavily so we can hopefully pick the best. It’s the first horse we’ve ever run in the Gold Cup and only a couple of weeks after we won the Irish Gold Cup. Pretty good!”

Harrington pointed out that the presence of Douvan in the two-mile chasing ranks and the jockey’s belief that Sizing John would stay further encouraged her to step the horse up in trip. Although she favoured the Ryanair Chase this year as a stepping stone to next year’s Gold Cup, it was on the owner’s insistence, she said, that they go for Gold.

The race could not have gone smoother for the jockey. Having planned to take a wide route, he switched to the inside once he was over the second fence, where Lizzie Kelly’s involvement came to a premature end when Tea For Two made a seismic mistake and the two parted company.

Robbie Power is congratulated by Richard Johnson after winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup  Credit: Stefan Wermuth/Reuters

“I saw there was more room on the inside,” said Power, “but if something had brought me down she [Jessica] would have kicked my a•••.”

Sizing John was always travelling well. Free-wheeling down the hill to the third-last while Native River and Djakadam were vying for the lead, piling on the pressure, Power sat just behind them.

Unlike last year, when he was going like a winner, Cue Card was under pressure and appeared to be back-pedalling when, for the second year running, he crashed out at the third-last. Trainer Colin Tizzard reported that he was none the worse for the spill.

Rounding the home turn, Power switched his mount to the outside of the Willie Mullins-trained Djakadam, who was getting the better of the argument with Native River.

All three were in the air together at the penultimate obstacle but there, critically, Djakadam, the 3-1 favourite looking to break his trainer’s hoodoo on the race – he has finished second times – atomised at least two bundles of birch. Ruby Walsh felt the mistake cost him second place, for what would have been a third time.

Cheltenham course

Sizing John, however, landed in front and soon quickened into a two length lead. Already in unknown territory as far as distance was concerned, he met the last fence well and galloped all the way to the line.

From way off the pace Jonjo O’Neill’s Minella Rocco, an 18-1 shot who had been flat to the boards all the way owing to the strong pace, stayed on stoutly to overhaul Native River and Djakadam close home, but he never looked likely to catch the winner.

Power, who also ruptured a disc in his back two weeks before winning the Irish Gold Cup on Sizing John in February, said: “It’s unbelievable. Jessica Harrington’s a genius.

“I always said that when Sizing John stepped up in trip it would be the making of him. From the first day I rode him behind Douvan, I felt all he did was stay.

“I’ve been to plenty Cheltenham preview nights and people were saying it was a bad Gold Cup – I was kind of insulted because every good Gold Cup winner has Grade One form [he was placed in both the Supreme and Arkle] over two miles. He has that bit of speed.”

Cheltenham Festival 2017 in pictures: celebrities, royals and racing

Harrington, who was only sent the horse by Potts in the autumn – along with Wednesday’s Coral Cup winner Supasundae – paid tribute to the horse’s former trainer, Henry de Bromhead, whose pain at seeing the victory will, up to a point, have been softened by Special Tiara’s brave win in the Queen Mother Champion Chase.

I do feel very sorry for Henry,” she said. “He bought them and did all the work with them as youngsters. I only inherited them in September.”

With the past two winners of the Gold Cup, Coneygree and Don Cossack, sitting this one out through injury, Harrington was cautious about Sizing John defending his title in a year’s time.

“He is only seven and horses peak at seven or eight,” she said. “The last two winners haven’t come back. We’d like to come back, but there will be younger horses around and we’ve got to keep sound.”

Harrington and Power went on to win the last race with Rock The World to make it three wins from six runners this week. When asked how she would celebrate she said Harrington,, who has been a house guest of fellow trainer Nicky Henderson all week, said she was booked on a plane bound for home. But if Power is seeing double in the morning it will be nothing to do a fractured eye-socket.

5:42PM

And that's it

The Festival ends with Ireland on 19 winners from 28 races, Gordon Elliott wins leading trainer and Ruby Walsh top jockey. 

5:39PM

Rock the World wins the Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Chase

  1. Rock The World 10/1
  2. Gardefort 20/1
  3. Theinval 9/1
  4. Dandridge 13/2

5:37PM

Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Chase

Rock The World comes up the outside and flies up the straight. Jessica Harrington and Robbie Power have another winner. 

5:36PM

Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Chase

Croco Bay is jumping well and leads from Gardefort at the turn with two to go. Here comes Bright New Dawn. 

5:35PM

Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Chase

Croco Bay leads as they go to the top of the hill. 

5:33PM

Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Chase

And they're off in the finale. They're all over the first safely. 

5:06PM

Gordon Elliott wins Leading Trainer

He currently has six, as has Willie Mullins, winner for the past four years, but only Elliott has a horse in the last race and Elliott wins any case on countback. 

5:02PM

Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Challenge Cup Handicap Chase

One race to go of the 2017 Festival: , the 5.30. Here's Marlborough

LE PREZIEN ticks quite a few boxes and could outclass these rivals in what is traditionally a difficult contest. Theinval has been shrewdly campaigned and clearly the trainer would love to win the race named after his late father again. Rock The World, third a year ago, looks to have been aimed at this once more. Sizing Platinum and Calipto also have appeal.

Marlborough's tip: Le Prezien

Marcus Armytage's tip: The Game Change

Charlie Brooks' tip: Sizing Platinum

4:59PM

Martin Pipe result

  1. Champagne Classic 12/1
  2. Verni 25/1
  3. Runfordave 9/1
  4. Coo Star Sivola 13/2

4:58PM

A victory for Gordon Elliott

So he's tied 6-6 with Willie Mullins in the trainers' race. 

4:57PM

Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle 

Champagne Classic wins the Martin Pipe. 

4:57PM

Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle 

Coo Star Sivola from Champagne Classic and Verni with two flights left. 

4:56PM

Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle 

Three out and Coo Star Sivola leads from Doesyourdogbite and Catamaran Du Seuil. Lizzie Kelly is on Coo Star Sivola. 

4:55PM

Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle 

Coo Star Sivola leads from Doesyourdogbite.

4:52PM

Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle 

They're off in the 'cavalry charge'. 

4:37PM

Sweet As A Nut

... who fell in the last, is back on his feet and is unscathed. 

4:36PM

 Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle preview

Here's Marlborough's verdict: 

RUNFORDAVE has a touch of class and fits the profile of recent winners in that he is unexposed and comes here on a high. Coo Star Sivola knows how to battle and should be suited by the demands of this event; he acts on the course. Verni, Battleford and Rather Be all look fairly treated.

Marlborough's tip: Runfordave

Marcus Armytage's tip: Remiluc

Charlie Brooks's tip: Thomas Campbell

4:34PM

Still in the game?

Just two races left to take advantages of some  great Cheltenham Festival offers.

4:32PM

Picture of the day

Tea For Two and Lizzie Kelly fall at the second in the Gold Cup but horse and rider were unscathed Credit: Action Images/Andrew Boyers

 

4:28PM

Pacha Du Polder

Was ridden here by Victoria Pendleton last year and finished fifth. Four better this year.

 

4:25PM

Foxhunter's result

  1. Pacha Du Polder (Miss B Frost) 16-1 
  2. Wonderful Charm (Ms K Walsh) 7-2 
  3.  Barel Of Laughs (Mr Alex Edwards) 100-1 

4:23PM

A treble for the Frost family

Father Jimmy won the National in 1989 on Little Polveir, brother Hadden won the Pertemps at the Festival in 2010 and now Briony wins the Foxhunter's. 

4:20PM

Pacha Du Polder wins the Foxhunter

Terrific ride from Briony Frost to beat Wonderful Charm. She stayed on the rails all the way. A one-two for Nicholls. 

4:19PM

Foxhunter Chase 

Wonderful Charm comes on the rails but Pacha Du Polder for Paul Nicholls flies through to win!

4:18PM

Foxhunter Chase

Balnaslow leads at the second last. 

4:17PM

Foxhunter Chase

On The Fringe about eight back but travelling well as they come up to the fourth last. Nalnaslow still leads from Paint The Clouds and Pacha Du Polder. 

4:16PM

Foxhunter Chase

Balnaslow hits the fence hard bu recovers OK and still leads with 10 to go from Paint The Clouds and Ask The Weatherman. Salsify starts to move up.  

4:15PM

Foxhunter Chase

Balnaslow happy at the front. Buckers; Bridge has been pulled up. Salsify is miles behind. Current Event in second with 11 jumps left. 

4:14PM

Foxhunter Chase

With 16 to jump Balnaslow leads by two lengths from Current Event and Paint The Clouds.

4:12PM

Foxhunter Chase

They're off. They ride the Gold Cup course and Balnaslow leads after two, the whole field is over safely and travelling smoothly. 

4:07PM

Foxhunter prices

On The Fringe 11/8

Wonderful Charm 7/2

Ask The Weatherman 7/1

Paint the Clouds 11/1

Sweet as a Nut 14/1

Pacha Du Polder 16/1

Black Thunder 22/1

Bar 33/1

4:02PM

Foxhunter Chase up next at 4.10

After the Lord Mayor's show? Not a bit of it, we have three more races on the card beginning with the mellifluously titled St James's Place Foxhunter Challenge Cup Open Hunters' Chase at 4.10 which is a race for amateur jockeys on horses aged five or over. No Nina Carberry in the saddle this year but nonetheless On The Fringe is well-backed to win a treble, as Marlborough explains:

ON THE FRINGE attempts a unique hat-trick in this event and must have a realistic chance of completing the task. Certainly, there seems to have been plenty of confidence behind him this week. The home team are headed by Ask The Weatherman, a smart point-to-pointer, who won a Wincanton hunte rchase easily last time. Grand Vision, Black Thunder and Paint The Clouds will ensure their presence is felt.

Nina Carberry and On The Fringe win in 2016 Credit: racingfotos.com/REX/Shutterstock

Marlborough's tip: On The Fringe

Marcus Armytage's tip: On The Fringe

Charlie Brooks' tip: On The Fringe

4:01PM

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4:00PM

Alan Tyers reports 

Winning jockey Robbie Power now has the dubious honour of getting up close and personal with Her Majesty's racing press:

Credit: Alan Tyers for THE TELEGRAPH

 

3:58PM

Hat tip to Whistler

Marcus Armytage napped Sizing John, the 7/1 winner of the Gold Cup. 

3:57PM

Sizing John wins the Gold Cup

Sizing John gave Irish trainer Jessica Harrington her first victory in the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup with her first runner when coming home a clear-cut winner of jumping's blue riband prize.

Given a patient ride by Robbie Power, the seven-year-old completed the English-Irish Gold Cup double in style to dispel any stamina doubts. Djakadam travelled well for most of the race and looked as though he might end Willie Mullins' hoodoo in the showpiece event, but Sizing John (7-1) pounced to lead between the final two fences.

Sizing John hits the front and takes the last Credit: REUTERS

So often in the shadow of Douvan over two miles, Sizing John kept on strongly up the hill to score by two and three-quarter lengths from the staying-on Minella Rocco (18-1). Native River (7-2) was a short-head away in third and Djakadam - twice the runner-up - was fourth.

Owner Alan Potts said: "It's unreal, it's my dream and it's come true. It's our first runner in the race, the jockey's first ride and Jessie's first runner."

Robbie Power is congratulated by Richard Johnson after winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup  Credit: Stefan Wermuth/Reuters

"I can't believe it, it was amazing how he jumped and travelled," said Harrington. "Robert said he wasn't going to go down the inside, but he did. It's absolutely fantastic, my first runner in a Gold Cup.

"He was running over two miles, but it was Robert who said he would stay and he did. Thanks to everyone at home, it's all down to the team.

"I can't believe it, I've got to get a Classic now [on the Flat]!"

Cue Card fell at the third-last for the second successive year, while Lizzie Kelly only got as far as the second fence where she and Tea For Two parted company.

3:45PM

Watch the finale

A victory for the trainer Jessica Harrington and jockey Robbie Power, who won the National on Silver Birch 10 years ago. 

3:42PM

Djakadam hit the second last

And broke the guard rail. Happy news about Cue Card who is up and trotting smoothly. 

3:41PM

Timico Gold Cup Chase result 

  1. Sizing John (R Power) 7-1 
  2. Minella Rocco (N Fehily) 18-1 
  3. Native River (R Johnson) 7-2 
  4. Djakadam (R Walsh) 3-1F

3:40PM

Timico Gold Cup Chase result 

 

3:37PM

Sizing John wins the Gold Cup

A mistake from Djakadam at the second last. He got in too close and Sizing John burned him off up the hill. 

3:37PM

Timico Gold Cup Chase 

Djakadam and Sizing John, Sizing John hits the front. 

3:36PM

Timico Gold Cup Chase 

Champagne West slides back, Native Rivera and Djakadam neck and neck with three to go and Cue Card falls three from home again. Oh no. 

3:35PM

Timico Gold Cup Chase 

Native River hits the front with six to go, Champagne West tucks in behind, Djakadam travels strongly. 

3:35PM

Timico Gold Cup Chase 

With nine to jumpChampagne West and Native River force the pace in one and two followed by Djakadam. Cue Card is jumping haphazardly. 

3:34PM

Timico Gold Cup Chase 

Still Champagne West by a length from Naive River and Djakadam as they finish the first circuit. All apart from Irish Cavalier travelling well.

3:33PM

Timico Gold Cup Chase 

Irish Cavalier has dropped off the back. Champagne West hits the front with Native River behind and then Djakadam. 

3:32PM

Timico Gold Cup Chase 

Native River leads at the water jump ahead of Bristol de Mi and Champagne West. Cue Card is well-placed in the middle of the field. 

3:31PM

Timico Gold Cup Chase 

They're off and Native River leads from Champagne West and Bristol De Mai at the first.

Tea for Two is down at the second fence but looks OK. That's the end for Lizzie Kelly.  

3:30PM

Timico Gold Cup Chase 

They're being called out. Native River is coming in. Tea For Two is still skittish, up on his toes. 

3:27PM

Tea For Two

Looked spooked as they came out to parade and Lizzie Kelly had to shush the crowd. Djakadam is sliding slightly, out to 100/30.

3:25PM

Alan spots the second Gold Cup woman jockey

"Lizzie Kelly is tapping her whip on her boot. She looks like she wants to get on with it."

Tea For Two jockey Lizzie Kelly Credit: Alan Tyers for The Telegrph

 Or perhaps she has trodden in something, Al? 

3:21PM

Gold Cup prices

Djakadam 11/4

Native River 4/1

Cue Card 9/2

Sizing John 13/2

Outlander 1/1

More Of That 14/1

Champagne West 16/1

Minella Rocco 20/1

Bristol de Mai 22/1

Saphir Du Rheu 40/1

Bar 50/1

 

3:20PM

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3:19PM

Alan's in the paddock

And sareports "Djakadam is looking like he means business":

Credit: Alan Tyers

 And now a word from the sponsors ...

3:17PM

And what does Whistler think?

Arrangement in Grey and Black No1?

No, this Whistler:

 

3:15PM

Check out the Gold Cup course

 

3:13PM

Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle report

Penhill came from way off the pace to come out on top in the Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle as Ireland continued to dominate at Cheltenham.

Successful with Arctic Fire in the County Hurdle earlier on the card, Willie Mullins was winning his sixth race of the Festival and Paul Townend his second.

Ami Desbois did the donkey work to two out but there were soon just three vying for victory with Penhill, Monalee and Wholestone taking over.

The latter was the first to crack and try as Monalee could, Penhill (16-1) held the aces as he powered up the hill to win by three and a half lengths. Wholestone was four lengths away in third.

Penhill wins the Potato Cup Credit: REUTERS

Townend said: "He's a class horse, we kept him wide to get into a rhythm.

"I won on him over three miles at Christmas at Limerick on heavy ground and he saw it out really well."

Owner Tony Bloom, chairman of Brighton & Hove Albion Football Club, said: "I'm over the moon for everyone involved, it was a great ride by Paul and it's a brilliant horse we have here.

"He was looking good all the way and two out we were expecting him to win, his hurdling was a lot better than it has been and he's got the pace.

"Racing over three miles has been the making of him, as it gives him more time for his jumping.

"I haven't had many Cheltenham runners, so it is very exciting. I've brought a lot of friends and they're all on at 16 and 20-1."

3:09PM

Timico Gold Cup Chase preview

And time for the main event. Marlborough explains why he fancies Native River above the field: 

It looks perfectly set for a new staying chasing star to appear on the scene and NATIVE RIVER fits that bill. His improvement has been commensurate with the tasks set him and he has answered every question. He may well have more in him yet as he has looked far from tired at the end of any of his races this term. There can be no doubt that stablemate Cue Card deserves to win a Gold Cup – whether last year, when he fell three out, was his year remains to be seen. Djakadam appears vulnerable to improvers such as Outlander, who is preferred.

Native River leads the chasing pack and goes on to win the Welsh Grand National at Chepstow Credit: Huw Evans/REX/Shutterstock

Marlborough's tip: Native River (nap)

Marcus Armytage's tip: Sizing John (nap)

Charlie Brooks' tip: Native River

3:06PM

State of play

Douvan, Unowhatimeanharry and Death Duty will be paying a lot of bookies' school fees in 2017. 

3:02PM

Betfair offer

The Gold Cup is the race everyone's been waiting for and it seems a real toss-up between the top three. Djakadam has now come in to 3/1 favourite but many punters will be desperate to see the popular Cue Card come in at 5/1. You might prefer Native River - but, whichever your choice, you can  get 20/1 with Betfair.

3:01PM

Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle result

  1. Penhill (P Townend) 16-1  
  2. Monalee (D J Mullins) 8-1 
  3. Wholestone (D A Jacob) 13-2 

Willie Mullins takes the lead over Gordon Elliott by 6-5 with four races to go.  

2:58PM

Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle

Another winner for Mullins and Townend as Penhill lengthens his stride to win from Monalee and Wholestone. Death Duty came down at the final flight. What a victory for the bookies that was. Brilliant performance from Paul Townend and Penhill. 

2:57PM

Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle 

Wholestone comes through and fights with Monalee. Penhill hits the front with one to go. 

2:56PM

Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle 

They're starting to bunch up. Monalee makes a move but Ami Desbois leads from Elegant Escape. The World's End is down but is up OK.

2:55PM

Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle 

Augusta Kate is stuck at the back of the field after  mistake and hit by a swinging hurdle Ami Desbois leads from Elegant escape and Step Back. Death Duty in about sixth with two to go. 

2:54PM

Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle 

They begin the final circuit with Elegant Escape moving up to second behind Ami Desbois and Step back in third. 

2:53PM

Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle 

As they go through the fifth flight Ami Desbois still leads  from Step Back. Augusta Kate and Death Duty are two-thirds of the way back. Death Duty looks very smooth indeed. 

2:52PM

Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle 

The World's End looks a little stiff. Ami Desbois still in he lead through the third flight. Tommy Rapper lands awkwardly. Step Back is in second. 

2:52PM

Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle 

And they're off. Ami Desbois takes the lead as they come through the first. Elegant Escape in second. They're travelling comfortably.

2:50PM

Monalee who travels with a goat

Is spooked momentarily but David Mullins is now back in the saddle:

Credit: ITV RACING

 

2:47PM

Death Duty is bolted on

 

2:45PM

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2:43PM

Prices for the Novices' Hurdle

Death Duty 13/8

Augusta Kate 11/2

Wholestone 7/1

Monalee 8/1

The World's End 9/1

Constantine Bay 12/1

Penhill 16/1

 

2:41PM

Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle 

Is off at 2.50. This is the Novices' Hurdle won by Stayers' Hurdle favourite and disappointment Unowhatimeanharry last year. Bob's Worth won it back in 2011 and progressed seamlessly to win the Hennessy in 2012 and the Gold Cup itself in 2013. Marlborough writes: 

CONSTANTINE BAY may be the answer to a tight race. He fought hard to win at Doncaster in what was a real stamina test and will have learned plenty. Wholestone loves a scrap and is proven on the course. Death Duty has already won a Grade One and arrives with a big reputation. If he stays he will be a tough rival.

No consensus among our Magi: 

Marlborough's tip: Constantine Bay

Marcus Armytage's tip: Monalee

Charlie Brooks' tip: Wholestone

2:34PM

An offer from William Hill

No doubt most punters will be on Death Duty in the next but the smart money could be on Wholestone (15/2). The six-year old absolutely loves Cheltenham, with three wins and a second from his four runs on the track. Plus, if you put £10 on it now with William Hill, you'll get £30 in free bets.

2:33PM

County Hurdle report

Arctic Fire put up a terrific weight-carrying performance to give Willie Mullins a fifth Cheltenham Festival winner of the week in the Randox Health County Handicap Hurdle.

Runner-up in the 2015 Champion Hurdle, Arctie Fire (20-1) got up on the run to the line under Paul Townend to snatch the spoils.

Paul Townend wins the County Hurdle on Arctic Fire Credit: Reuters/Stefan Wermuth 

Wakea held a clear lead up to the final flight where he was swallowed up by the pack, as Arctic Fire came through late to win by a neck from L'Ami Serge. Ozzie The Oscar was another neck away in third and Air Horse One fourth.

Townend said: "It's some training performance to get him back after such a long absence.

"He had top weight but he had it for a reason and I went out with the mindset to ride him like the best horse and thankfully it paid off.

Arctic Fire wins the County Hurdle Credit: racingfotos.c/REX/Shutterstock

"Donagh [Meyler, on Wakea] had a big lead but it's very hard to do round here, you don't get that much of a lead without doing a hell of a lot.

"At that stage I had no choice but to drop in, there was nothing I could do about it."

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2:28PM

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2:22PM

Arctic Fire wins the County Hurdle

After more than a year out, 14 months,  he romps home despite carrying the top weight. Terrific run.

  1. Arctic Fire (P Townend) 20-1 
  2. L’Ami Serge (D Jacob) 25-1   
  3. Ozzie The Oscar (T O’Brien) 50-1 
  4. Air Horse One (N Fehily) 10-1 
Credit: ITV RACING

 

2:13PM

They're off

They run the same distance as the Triumph Hurdle but they haven't started at the same lick as the previous race. 

Wakea is off to a flyer and leads by about six lengths after three flights.

Wakea still leads by a country mile with a mile to go, 15 lengths clear, Ivanovich Gorbatov is second and Dominada. 

The No10 Wakea is still clear at the second last flight. No one has made their move from the pack. 

But Wakea has folded and Ozzie the Oscar makes his move, swallowing up the leader.

Arctic Fire in the last few yards!

It's tight but Arctic Fire wins from L'Ami Serge. It's another winner for Willie Mullins who is now tied with Gordon Elliott on five apiece. 

2:11PM

 Ivanovich Gorbatov

Who won the Triumph Hurdle last year, is being backed off the boards now as punters are lumping on in the past 10 minutes. It's now in at 5/1.

2:06PM

Prices for the County Handicap Hurdle

Ivanovic Gorbatov 6/1

North Hill Harvey 15/2

Winter Escape 9/1

Air Horse One 10/1

Wait for Me 10/1

Rennetti 12/1

Diego du Charmil 12/1

Tell Us More 14/1

2:01PM

News on Douvan

Had an MRI scan yesterday and the result has just been announced - it's a stress fracture of the pelvis and is not career-threatening. 

1:59PM

Up next:  Randox Health County Handicap Hurdle 

This for horses who are five or over and we have a large field of 24 which makes tipping tricky. Nonetheless, here are the Telegraph's Melchior, Caspar and Balthazar

Marlborough's tip: Mick Jazz

Marcus Armytage's tip: Mick Jazz

Charlie Brooks' tip: North Hill Harvey

I've gone for a Johnson double on Wait For Me. 

1:53PM

Triumph Hurdle report

Defi Du Seuil took his 100 per cent record over jumps to six with an impressive victory in the JCB Triumph Hurdle, the opening race on the last day of the Cheltenham Festival.

Champion jockey Richard Johnson always looked happy on the Philip Hobbs-trained gelding as Mega Fortune, Dinaria Des Obeaux and Evening Hush cut out the running.

Defi Du Seuil, wearing the first colours of owner JP McManus, cruised through to challenge at the second-last flight and was switched nearer to the stands rail.

Defi Du Seuil takes the last flight in the lead Credit: David Davies/PA Wire

The 5-2 favourite soon took command and pulled clear on the run-in to score by five lengths from Mega Fortune, who held Bapaume by a short head for second.

Johnson said: "I was a passenger all the way to be honest, he travelled and jumped.

"At Christmas he shocked me how much speed he had and on the better ground some people thought that was a negative.

"He's just improved all year and I can't believe he's the same horse I rode at Ffos Las four or five months ago.

Richard Johnson celebrates after his winning ride on Defi Du Seuil in the JCB Triumph Hurdle Credit: David Davies/PA Wire

"All credit to Philip, he's handled him brilliantly all year.

"He travelled so well and I was just trying not to get there too soon.

"I spoke to Barry [Geraghty], who would have ridden him, and it must be very hard for him watching, but he told me exactly how to ride him.

"It's hard for juveniles to make the jump to the Champion Hurdle, but he's not a typical juvenile as he's not an ex-Flat horse."

1:50PM

Some offers for you

Race 2 has got long-priced-winner written all over it and Dominada could be worth a look. He's been in fine form and, at 40/1, he's well worth an outside punt EW.

1:46PM

We have a winner

Credit: AFP

 

1:43PM

Triumph Hurdle result

  1. Defi Du Seuil (R Johnson) 5-2 Fav 
  2. Mega Fortune (D N Russell) 7-1 
  3. Bapaume (R Walsh) 10-1 

1:41PM

Richard Johnson wins the Triumph Hurdle on Defi du Seuil

We're still waiting for a judgment on second and third.  

 

1:35PM

They're off

Mega Fortune leads as they come up to the second from Dinaria des Obeaux and Soldier in Action. 

They're going well, galloping at a fair lick. Evening Hush makes  mistake but clatters through the fourth flight. Chari Parcs and Defi du Seuil are placed two-thirds of the way back. 

Landofhopeandglory takes to he front pack with two flights but Mega Fortune leads as they come up from Dinaria des Obeaux.

 Defi du Seuil hits the front and leads over the last from Bapaume. 

 Defi du Seuil wins the Triumph Hurdle, having run judiciously. An impressive victory for the favourite. 

1:33PM

Ex Patriot is allowed to run

And the field circle for the last time and come up to the flag. 

1:32PM

They've caught the horse

A quick check from the vet to determine whether he is fit to take part and then we'll be off. The jockey who was unseated, Rachel Blackmore, looks OK too. 

1:30PM

We have a loose horse

No6, Ex Patriot has gone. Delay on the cards until they manage to stop it.

Credit: ITV RACING

 

1:27PM

Bapaume is in the ring

And Alan Tyers asks: "Can Ruby get the Mullins operation off to a flyer in Friday after four wins on Thursday?"

Credit: Alan Tyers for THE TELEGRAPH

 No, Charli Parcs for me. In Henderson we trust. 

1:19PM

Latest prices for the Triumph Hurdle

Defi du Seuil 5/2

Charli Parcs 4/1

Master Blueyes 15/2

Bapaume 9/1

Landofhopeandglory 9/1

Mega Fortune 11/1

Soldier in Action 16/1

Dinaria des Obeaux 16/1

Bar 20/1

1:13PM

Get your Gold Cup day off to a flyer 

With Coral. Put a £1 bet on the opening race and you'll receive £30 in free bets to use across the rest of the day's action. Find out more

1:12PM

Live from Alan Tyers on course

First he meets Banvard and James, umbrella sellers, where Alex Hudson tells him: “I must be the only person here who is praying for rain."

Credit: Alan Tyers for the Telegraph

Next he visits the tile department:  Must-have Cheltenham accessory: a flamboyantly furry lid. This is milliner Jessica Rowles Nicholson of Jessica Mary Design; the hat is vintage ocelot. 

Credit: Alan Tyers for the Telegraph

Now, a word from our sponsors. 

1:08PM

AP McCoy

Has his heart on More of That  for the Gold Cup and schooled him 10 days ago. Jonjo O'Neill offered him the ride, he thinks sincerely, and he did contemplate it for more than a moment. 

1:06PM

All the offers in one place

There are still plenty of  great enhanced odds and offers  for new customers looking to place a bet on today's Gold Cup, we've rounded up the best of them here.

12:56PM

Foxhunter Chase preview

After the Lord Mayor's show? Not a bit of it, we have three more races on the card beginning with the mellifluously titled St James's Place Foxhunter Challenge Cup Open Hunters' Chase at 4.10 which is a race for amateur jockeys on horses aged five or over. No Nina Carberry in the saddle this year but nonetheless On The Fringe is well-backed to win a treble, as Marlborough explains:

ON THE FRINGE attempts a unique hat-trick in this event and must have a realistic chance of completing the task. Certainly, there seems to have been plenty of confidence behind him this week. The home team are headed by Ask The Weatherman, a smart point-to-pointer, who won a Wincanton hunte rchase easily last time. Grand Vision, Black Thunder and Paint The Clouds will ensure their presence is felt.

Nina Carberry and On The Fringe win in 2016 Credit: racingfotos.com/REX/Shutterstock

Marlborough's tip: On The Fringe

Marcus Armytage's tip: On The Fringe

Charlie Brooks' tip: On The Fringe

 

12:30PM

​Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup Chase preview

And time for the main event. Marlborough explains why he fancies Native River above the field: 

It looks perfectly set for a new staying chasing star to appear on the scene and NATIVE RIVER fits that bill. His improvement has been commensurate with the tasks set him and he has answered every question. He may well have more in him yet as he has looked far from tired at the end of any of his races this term. There can be no doubt that stablemate Cue Card deserves to win a Gold Cup – whether last year, when he fell three out, was his year remains to be seen. Djakadam appears vulnerable to improvers such as Outlander, who is preferred.

Native River leads the chasing pack and goes on to win the Welsh Grand National at Chepstow Credit: Huw Evans/REX/Shutterstock

Marlborough's tip: Native River (nap)

Marcus Armytage's tip: Sizing John (nap)

Charlie Brooks' tip: Native River

12:26PM

Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle

This is the Novices' Hurdle won by Stayers' Hurdle favourite and disappointment Unowhatimeanharry last year and goes off at 2.50 Bob's Worth won it back in 2011 and progressed seamlessly to win the Hennessy in 2012 and the Gold Cup itself in 2013. Marlborough writes: 

CONSTANTINE BAY may be the answer to a tight race. He fought hard to win at Doncaster in what was a real stamina test and will have learned plenty. Wholestone loves a scrap and is proven on the course. Death Duty has already won a Grade One and arrives with a big reputation. If he stays he will be a tough rival.

Marlborough's tip: Constantine Bay

Marcus Armytage's tip: Monalee

Charlie Brooks' tip: Wholestone

12:21PM

A knight at bay

If you watched the terrific Being AP, reviewed wonderfully by Alan here, you will know how much Sir Anthony McCoy was dying inside at this moment:

Credit: Alan Tyers for the Telegraph

 

12:13PM

Randox Health County Handicap Hurdle preview

Marlborough writes

Tuesday’s Supreme Novice’s Hurdle victory of Labaik makes the form MICK JAZZ showed when chasing him home in November look much better and he has not gone backwards since. His mark of 143 is very fair. Wait For Me is far better than he showed in the Betfair Hurdle last time and has claims. Ivanovich Gorbatov may not have many secrets but this is a much easier grade. Winter Escape had smart form last year and looks to have been saved.

Wait For Me clears the last to win The Bellshill Wins All Novices' Hurdle at Kempton last year Credit: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

Marlborough's tip: Mick Jazz

Marcus Armytage's tip: Mick Jazz

Charlie Brooks' tip: North Hill Harvey

12:07PM

Tyers reports

Mawli here is on guard outside the trophy room. The Gold Cup itself is an understated little object. The massive Foxhunters to the right looks like it might be overcompensating.

Credit: Alan Tyers for The Telegraph

 Indeed it is, Alan, you'd be pushed to fit a quart in there:

The Cheltenham Gold Cup Credit: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

 

12:04PM

JCB Triumph Hurdle preview

This goes off at 1.30. Barry Geraghty has ridden the past two winners but Davy Russell is on Marlborough's selection, as he explains

J P McManus has a strong hand with the unbeaten Defi Du Seuil, Charli Parcs and Landofhopeandglory but preference is for MEGA FORTUNE, who showed great battling qualities when successful at Leopardstown last time, a quality that will stand him in good stead here. Also, the time was fast. Defi Du Seuil has done nothing wrong in five bloodless victories but there have to be doubts over what he beat and how he will cope with this bigger field. Present odds are too short not to know the answers. Nicky Henderson is adamant we have not seen the best of Charli Parcs and his judgment is renowned.

Mega Fortune at Gordon Elliott's stables in Longwood Credit: Niall Carson/PA Wire

 

Marlborough's tip: Mega Fortune

Marcus Armytage's tip: Defi du Seuil

Charlie Brooker's tip: Charli Parcs

11:58AM

Live from Cheltenham

We have The Telegarph's own Andy DufresneAlan Tyers, who reports:

A little sea of green tranquility at the Parade Ring. Later, lads and lasses will be trying to keep the horses calm before the races; eagle-eyed punters trying to get clues from the appearance and mood of their fancies.

Credit: Alan tyers for The Telegraph

 

11:53AM

Let us begin

With Marcus Armytage's Gold Cup preview:

 

11:50AM

Good morning

To coverage of day four of the Cheltenham Festival which reaches its peak with the Gold Cup at 3.30. 

The contenders include Djakadam, trained by Willie Mullins and ridden by Ruby Walsh, the combination that earned four victories on Thursday, Cue Card, a Festival favourite who fell three out last year in the race and his stablemate from Colin Tizzard's yard, Native River, who was tipped by The Telegraph's Marlborough and Charlie Brooks.

Whistler, The Sunday Telegraph's man in the cheese-cutter cap, has picked Sizing John, trained by Jessica Harrington and ridden by Robbie Power, the victorious combo with Supasundae in Tuesday's Coral Cup.

Feathers and tweeds: The best dressed at Cheltenham Festival

Tom Dreaper, the trainer behind Arkle's imperishable hat-trick, has five victories in the race, a mark that could be equalled on Friday by Paul Nicholls with the long-shot Saphir Du Rheu who won the Cleeve Hurdle at the Festival in 2015 and on heavy ground at Kelso last month. 

Nicholls has previously won with See More Business in 1999, and recorded a hat-trick with the two greats Kauto Star and Denman from 2007-09. 

Cheltenham course

The duo of trainer Gordon Elliott and jockey Bryan Cooper who won last year on Don Cossack, have a rare chance to win back-to-back Gold Cups on two different horses with Outlander this year.

We'll have full coverage of the race and the other six on the card right here, starting with the Triumph Hurdle at 1.30pm which we will preview in a moment.  

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