Timeform guide you through a fascinating renewal of the Gold Cup, staged at 17:30 on Wednesday...
"Sir Des Champs has graduated into a top-class chaser this term, winning Irish Hennessy before giving best only late on when second to Bobs Worth..."
Captain Chris won at this meeting in 2011. Better than ever when second in King George (beaten neck by Long Run) and Ascot Chase this term, but needs to bounce back from below-form sixth in Gold Cup last time.
Chicago Grey got back to best when springing a bit of a surprise in Navan Grade 2 in February. Probably best to forgive subsequent poor run in Grand National but biting off more than he can chew at this level.
First Lieutenant has posted solid efforts at the top level since tried in cheekpieces, second in Lexus and Ryanair before going one better in Betfred Bowl at Aintree earlier this month. Sure to give it his usual good shot.
Kauto Stone beat First Lieutenant at Down Royal in November. Flopped in King George next time and no better back over hurdles in January, but wouldn't be a massive shock if he bounced back after short break.
Long Run wore down Captain Chris to land a second King George in December. Good third in Gold Cup in cheekpieces (on again), but has 2¾ lengths to make up with Sir des Champs on that running.
Quito De La Roque is a high-class chaser who returned to best to win Thurles Grade 2 in January and another good effort when fourth to First Lieutenant at Aintree last time. Likely to come up little short again.
Riverside Theatre was a top-class performer at his best, winning Ascot Chase and Ryanair last season. Better effort this term when fourth to Cue Card at Cheltenham last time but was never going with much fluency.
Sir Des Champs was unbeaten during his novice season and has graduated into a top-class chaser this term, winning Irish Hennessy before giving best only late on when second to Bobs Worth in Gold Cup last time.
1. Sir Des Champs
2. First Lieutenant
3. Long Run
Timeform Verdict: A cracking renewal of this Grade 1 prize. Sir Des Champs is likely to be tough to beat if fully recovered from a hard race in the Gold Cup, with the same owner's First Lieutenant just preferred to Long Run for the forecast spot.
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