Racing Post Gold Cup runner-by-runner guide to the 15 Cheltenham contenders

Can Midnight Shadow make it back-to-back Cheltenham triumphs?

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Midnight Shadow attempts to become the first horse since Exotic Dancer in 2006 to win both of Cheltenham’s big pre-Christmas handicaps on Saturday.

Sue Smith’s Paddy Power Gold Cup hero meets 14 rivals in the Racing Post Gold Cup and will reoppose the likes of Lalor and Dostal Phil who trailed in his wake last month.

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Charlie Hall Chase winner Fusil Raffles and 2020 Paddy Power Gold Cup champ Coole Cody add further spice to the mix, while Cheltenham Festival top jockey Rachael Blackmore is booked on Farinet.

A whole host of top names have won the race in recent years including Frodon and Chatham Street Lad so which horse will be the latest to add their name to the illustrious roll call? You can swot up on the 15 runners and riders below.

Cepage

Trainer: Venetia Williams Jockey: Charlie Deutsch Age: 9 Weight: 11st 12lbs

Very smart chaser who posted anoothr good run when fourth of 16 in Ultima handicap here (25f) in March. Goes well fresh, so he returns well in the mix. Yard also have Farinet in here, however.

Midnight Shadow

Trainer: Sue Smith Jockey: Ryan Mania Age: 8 Weight: 11st 9lbs

Has a very good record here, and he put up a career best when gamely winning Paddy Power Gold Cup at this track 28 days ago. Hit with a 7 lb rise but he can make his presence felt again.

Fusil Raffles

Trainer: Nicky Henderson Jockey: Daryl Jacob Age: 6 Weight: 11st 7lbs

Very smart chaser who arrives on back of win in Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby (24.2f) 42 days ago by 4¼l from Kitty’s Light. Effective at this shorter trip. and he’s much respected.

Lalor

Trainer: Paul Nicholls Jockey: Harry Cobden Age: 9 Weight: 11st 6lbs

Smart chaser who got back on track for new yard after a wind op when third of 19 to Midnight Shadow in Paddy Power Gold Cup here last month. Cheekpieces refitted now, and he’s firmly in the picture.

Silver Hallmark

Trainer: Fergal O’Brien Jockey: Nico de Boinville Age: 7 Weight: 11st 0lbs

Lightly-raced chaser who landed Haydock Grade 2 in January. Resumed from 9 months off with good fourth to Fiddlerontheroof in Carlisle listed chase (20f), so he needs considering with more to come.

Zanza

Trainer: Philip Hobbs Jockey: Tom O’Brien Age: 7 Weight: 11st 0lbs

Very useful chaser who has posted solid efforts this term when third in Exeter’s Haldon Gold Cup and sixth in Paddy Power Gold Cup here. He’s one for the shortlist nudged up just 1lb.

Dostal Phil

Trainer: Philip Hobbs Jockey: Aidan Coleman Age: 8 Weight: 10st 12lbs

Low-mileage chaser who resumed his progress when fourth of 19 to Midnight Shadow in Paddy Power Gold Cup here, best work at the finish. Possibilities off only 1lb higher mark.

Francky Du Berlais

Trainer: Peter Bowen Jockey: Sean Bowen Age: 8 Weight: 10st 12lbs

In fine form in spring/summer when landing the Summer Plate at Market Rasen. Only eighth of 13 in Grand Sefton Handicap at Aintree (21f) 35 days ago though, so he needs to get back on track.

Siruh Du Lac

Trainer: David Pipe Jockey: Tom Scudamore Age: 8 Weight: 10st 12lbs

Smart chaser who has been seen sparingly since 2019. Shaped as if needing the run after 11 months off back over hurdles here in October, so this C&D winner is no forlorn hope off a reduced mark.

Coole Cody

Trainer: Evan Williams Jockey: Adam Wedge Age: 10 Weight: 10st 12lbs

C&D winner who was in process of running well (in a clear second) when falling 2 out in Paddy Power Gold Cup here last month. Tough sort who must enter calculations off the same mark now.

Deyrann De Carjac

Trainer: Alan King Jockey: Brendan Powell Age: 8 Weight: 10st 2lbs

Very lightly raced since grade 2 scorer in 2019/20, but he wasn’t disgraced when eleventh to Midnight Shadow in Paddy Power Gold Cup here last month. More is needed now, however.

Farinet

Trainer: Venetia Williams Jockey: Rachael Blackmore Age: 6 Weight: 10st 2lbs

Low-mileage ex-French chaser who looked a smart prospect when landing Sandown listed handicap (20f) in March on only second run for current yard. Up 8 lb but he has more to offer, so a big player.

Joke Dancer

Trainer: Sue Smith Jockey: Sean Quinlan Age: 8 Weight: 10st 1lbs

Very useful winning chaser at his best. Failed to stay upped to 25f and well held when fell at the last in handicap at Haydock 21 days ago, so no forlorn hope now off a falling mark.

Beakstown

Trainer: Dan Skelton Jockey: Harry Skelton Age: 8 Weight: 10st 1lbs

Lightly-raced chaser who returned from 20 months off with good third in 20f handicap at Aintree last month. In excellent hands, and possibilities if building on that effort now.

Topofthecotswolds

Trainer: Nigel Twiston-Davies Jockey: Sam Twiston-Davies Age: 7 Weight: 10st 0lbs

Returned to his best when second in 19f Wetherby handicap but unseated rider first at Newbury 14 days ago. Sort to bounce back.

Timeform Verdict: Loads with chances in a cracking handicap, but the unexposed ex-French chaser FARINET returns on a good mark and is taken to continue Venetia Williams’ fine recent run by claiming his biggest prize yet. Paddy Power Gold Cup hero Midnight Shadow seems sure to make a good fist of it, and both Silver Hallmark and Lalor are two others fancied to take a step forward and have a say too.

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