Timeform bring you their comprehensive runner-by-runner guide to Friday's Gold Cup at the Cheltenham Festival and pick out their 1-2-3...
"...should make bold bid to retain crown..."
Timeform on Al Boum Photo
1. Al Boum Photo (Willie Mullins/Paul Townend
Stable's apparent third string when decisive winner of this last year before only second defeat in completed starts over fences when beaten by stablemate Kemboy at Punchestown. Has had same light preparation this season with convincing win in New Year's Day Chase at Tramore and should make bold bid to retain crown.
2. Bristol de Mai (Nigel Twiston-Davies/Daryl Jacob)
Jumped better than usual when around six lengths third in last year's Gold Cup after every chance two out. As good as ever this term, denied hat-trick of Betfair Chase wins by Lostintranslation at Haydock and outstayed by another up-and-coming rival in Santini in Cotswold Chase here in January. Place chances at best again.
3. Chris's Dream (Henry de Bromhead/Aidan Coleman)
Winner of four of his seven chases, notably Troytown Handicap Chase at Navan and Red Mills Chase at Gowran last two starts when better than ever. Needs to improve further, though, back up in trip (also has Ryanair entry). Goes well in heavy ground.
4. Clan des Obeaux (Paul Nicholls/Harry Cobden)
Went well for a long way before weakening into fifth in last year's Gold Cup, then had excuses behind Kemboy at Aintree. In better heart when winning King George VI Chase at Kempton for second year last time, though was only one to give running. Kept fresh since and entitled to be closer this time if seeing things out better.
5. Delta Work (Gordon Elliott/Mark Walsh)
Only defeat in novice campaign when close third here in RSA. Back on track at Punchestown next time and has progressed into a top-class chaser this term, heading idling Monalee on line in Savills Chase at Leopardstown and gamely beating Kemboy by length and a half in Irish Gold Cup there. Leading chance with likelihood of further improvement.
6. Elegant Escape (Colin Tizzard/Jonjo O'Neill Jr)
Thorough stayer, winner of Welsh National last term but beaten long way when sixth in this race. Good third in first-time blinkers in Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury in November, but ran as if amiss when pulled up in Grand National Trial at Haydock last time.
7. Kemboy (Willie Mullins/Mr Patrick Mullins)
Unseated first in last year's Gold Cup before resuming winning run in Aintree Bowl and Punchestown Gold Cup, beating Al Boum Photo two lengths in latter. Needed run when fourth to Delta Work in Savills Chase and got closer when runner-up to same rival in Irish Gold Cup last time, but didn't jump so well as winner in latter stages.
8. Lostintranslation (Colin Tizzard/Robbie Power)
Top novice last term, up in trip when beating RSA winner Topofthegame in Mildmay at Aintree on final start. Looked every inch a Gold Cup contender earlier in season, impressing on return at Carlisle before following up in Betfair Chase from Bristol de Mai, jumping superbly. Disappointed in King George when last seen, and has since had wind op, but obvious danger if that's done the trick.
9. Monalee (Henry de Bromhead/Rachael Blackmore)
Runner-up to Presenting Percy in 2018 RSA and fourth to Frodon in Ryanair at last year's Festival. Back to best, though idled, and rider lost irons, when going down by head to Delta Work in Savills Chase at Leopardstown last time, but yet to prove he has necessary stamina for a Gold Cup.
10. Presenting Percy (Patrick Kelly/Davy Russell)
Looked future Gold Cup horse when winning RSA two years ago but never going well when favourite for last year's race on next start over fences. Excuses first two starts this term but seemingly beaten on merit behind Delta Work and Kemboy in Irish Gold Cup last time and others appeal more now.
11. Real Steel (Willie Mullins/...)
Second season over fences and has been in good form with Grade 2 wins at Down Royal in November and Thurles in January. Favourite but evidently amiss when pulled up in Red Mills Chase last time.
12. Santini (Nicky Henderson/Nico de Boinville)
Placed at last two Festivals in light novice campaigns over both hurdles and fences, just in front of Delta Work when close second in RSA last year. Scrambled home on reappearance at Sandown but had wind op afterwards, and much more convincing when staying on strongly to beat Bristol de Mai in Cotswold Chase here last time. Improving, so strong claims. Will reportedly wear cheekpieces for the first time.
New on Betting.Betfair – Betslip
You can now bet without leaving Betting.Betfair with our brand new on-site betslip for Exchange markets. You'll see the Exchange back and lay prices at the end of articles - simply login and place your bets as you would do on the main Exchange site.
Timeform's Gold Cup Analyst Verdict
Half a dozen have good claims, headed by AL BOUM PHOTO who can become the first since Best Mate to win this in consecutive years. Stablemate Kemboy will be a threat if bouncing back to the form he showed last spring, while last year's leading novices Delta Work, Santini and Lostintranslation are also very much in the mix.
1. Al Boum Photo
3. Delta Work