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big day Gold Cup day is here at the Cheltenham Festival and here is all you need to know


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Jockey Jack Kennedy (left) after winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup on Minella Indo ahead of A Plus Tard and Rachael Blackmore (right) at the 2021 Festival. Photo: PA

Jockey Jack Kennedy (left) after winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup on Minella Indo ahead of A Plus Tard and Rachael Blackmore (right) at the 2021 Festival. Photo: PA

Jockey Jack Kennedy (left) after winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup on Minella Indo ahead of A Plus Tard and Rachael Blackmore (right) at the 2021 Festival. Photo: PA

In what looks a wide-open Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup, take a chance on King George hero TORNADO FLYER (3.30) who could swoop to conquer right on the line.

He used to look something of an underachiever, but just needed real stamina tests for his class to shine through.

Perhaps the race fell apart in the King George, but he was still finishing fastest of all - and the extra two furlongs here could be key.

Danny Mullins - who is a remarkable 33/1 in places to be leading Festival jockey - certainly gets a great tune out of him.

In Tornado's previous visits to the Cotswolds, this Willie Mullins-trained classy tough nut was seeing out his races well - like when a running on third behind Allaho in the Ryanair last year - and now the Tornado can storm up that famous hill to hit the jackpot.

No question that Galvin will be doing his best work late, too, and what a dream result it would be for Gordon Elliott after that dreadful witch-hunt and ban he endured last year for a stupid moment of madness.

And, of course, for Davy Russell too, as he has come back so bravely from what looked a career- ending injury.

And what will make it particularly sweet for both is that this seriously progressive eight-year-old is owned by their close friend and long time supporter Ronnie Bartlett.

The King George was never going to suit Minella Indo, but he was much better at Leopardstown when second in the Irish Gold Cup - and he arrives back now to his favourite venue, ready to defend his crown and is sure to be involved at the business end once more.

Stablemate A Plus Tard could go one better for Rachael Blackmore this time, though he may have had his best chance last year.

It is genuinely sad to see that there is such a weak English challenge for the greatest race of all - and while Protektorat is a worthy contender, we suspect it is misplaced patriotism that sees him under double-figure odds in the betting.

Chantry House is very hard to fancy while Santini needs to sprout wings, and Royale Pagaille looks an optimistic entry, unless a monsoon arrives .

The Triumph looks red-hot, and while Pied Piper and Vauban dominate the market and seem the main Gordon Elliott (below) and Willie Mullins contenders, this is often won by horses blessed with stamina reserves - and, in fact, Fil Dor is a leading player for Elliott, while Willie could have the real ace card in IL ETAIT TEMPS (1.30), who ran an absolute cracker when third on debut at the Dublin Racing Festival, and he really could be anything.

As usual, Mullins has a powerful squad in the Mrs. Paddy Power Mares Chase, where ELIMAY (4.50) a close second last year, could go one better now, though stablemate Concertista is clearly a threat, and Alan King's The Glancing Queen will be in the firing line throughout.

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Ginto looks a worthy favourite in the Albert Bartlett, having switched from the Ballymore, and Henry Daly's strong contender Hillcrest could give the home crowd something to cheer about on what could be another long day for them, but Mullins might have the last laugh with CLASSIC GETAWAY (2.50) , an unexposed sort with big potential.

1.30 1 IL ETAIT TEMPS; 2 Pied Piper; 3 Vauban

2.10 1 TOP BANDIT; 2 My Mate Mozzie; 3 State Man

2.50 1 CLASSIC GETAWAY; 2 Ginto; 3 Minella Cocooner

3.30 1 TORNADO FLYER; 2 Galvin; 3 Minella Indo

4.10 1 BILLAWAY; 2 Winged Leader; 3 Vaucelet

4.50 1 ELIMAY (Nap); 2 Concertista; 3 The Glancing Queen

5.30 1 BANBRIDGE; 2 Langer Dan; 3 Chemical Energy

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