Cheltenham Gold Cup runner-by-runner guide as Minella Indo faces 10 rivals in Friday’s 3.30

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Minella Indo faces 10 rivals as last year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup hero puts his title on the line.

Henry de Bromhead’s charge got the better of stablemate A Plus Tard 12 months and the pair reoppose in Friday’s 3.30pm at Cheltenham. Galvin represents Gordon Elliott and heads into the Blue Riband in top form after claiming the Savills Chase over Christmas, while Willie Mullins boasts dual Gold Cup winner Al Boum Photo and surprise King George scorer Tornado Flyer among his runners.

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Protektorat spearheads the British challenge as the home team look to win the big one for the first time since 2018.

You’ll find Timeform’s horse-by-horse analysis and a tip for the Cheltenham Gold Cup from the racing boffins below.

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Cheltenham Gold Cup runners

Al Boum Photo

Trainer: W. P. Mullins Jockey: P. Townend Age: 10 Weight: 11st 10lbs

Won this in 2019 and 2020. Creditable third to Minella Indo and A Plus Tard last year. Warmed up in customary fashion with a fourth successive win in Tramore Grade 3 on New Year’s Day. Cheekpieces on.

A Plus Tard

Trainer: Henry de Bromhead Jockey: Rachael Blackmore Age: 8 Weight: 11st 10lbs

Second to Minella Indo last year. Very impressive when beating Royale Pagaille by 22 lengths on Haydock return. Collared by Galvin at Leopardstown since but yard in better form now. Leading claims.

Asterion Forlonge

Trainer: W. P. Mullins Jockey: B. J. Cooper Age: 8 Weight: 11st 10lbs

High-class handicap performance when winning easily at Punchestown last spring. Set for second behind Tornado Flyer when falling last in King George but only a fair fourth in Irish Gold Cup since.

Aye Right

Trainer: Harriet Graham & Gary Rutherford Jockey: Callum Bewley Age: 9 Weight: 11st 10lbs

Very smart chaser who finally gained a deserved big handicap win in Rehearsal at Newcastle in November. Creditable 5¼ lengths third to Chantry House here latest but this is asking too much of him.

Chantry House

Trainer: Nicky Henderson Jockey: Nico de Boinville Age: 8 Weight: 11st 10lbs

Grade 1 novice chase winner here and at Aintree last spring. Ran abysmally when sent off favourite for King George but back on track in cheekpieces (retained) when winning Grade 2 here in January.

Galvin

Trainer: Gordon Elliott Jockey: Davy Russell Age: 8 Weight: 11st 10lbs

Capped unbeaten novice chase campaign with National Hunt Chase success at 2021 Festival. Has improved again this term, collaring A Plus Tard on line in Savills at Leopardstown in December. Player.

Minella Indo

Trainer: Henry de Bromhead Jockey: Robbie Power Age: 9 Weight: 11st 10lbs

Saw off A Plus Tard to win last year. Has yet to really fire this season but he did at least bounce back from an abject display in King George when second in Irish Gold Cup. Very good course record.

Protektorat

Trainer: Dan Skelton Jockey: Harry Skelton Age: 7 Weight: 11st 10lbs

Grade 1 winner at Aintree in novice season and built on fine reappearance second in Paddy Power Gold Cup here when easily winning a 25f Grade 2 back at Aintree in December. The unknown quantity.

Royale Pagaille

Trainer: Venetia Williams Jockey: Charlie Deutsch Age: 8 Weight: 11st 10lbs

Defied a big weight in Peter Marsh at Haydock in January. Good second in Denman at Newbury since but he was a remote sixth in this last year and A Plus Tard slammed him in Betfair.

Santini

Trainer: Polly Gundry Jockey: Nick Scholfield Age: 10 Weight: 11st 10lbs

Close second to Al Boum Photo in this in 2020. Lost his way last term but back on song for new yard when second to Chantry House here last time. Still a surprise if he can do as well as 2 years ago.

Tornado Flyer

Trainer: W. P. Mullins Jockey: D. E. Mullins Age: 9 Weight: 11st 10lbs

High-class chaser who ran the race of his life when proving 9 lengths too strong for Clan des Obeaux in King George at Kempton on Boxing Day. Will need another career best to follow up.

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Cheltenham Gold Cup tips

Timeform: It could be another 1-2 for Henry de Bromhead but in a different order, with A PLUS TARD, who should be in his prime at 8, taken to turn the tables on last year’s winner Minello Indo. The latter has yet to really fire this term but he’s always saved his best for this meeting (2 wins and a second) and can provide a bigger threat than Galvin, who pipped the selection at Leopardstown over Christmas.

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