The Punter's Eye: Cheltenham Gold Cup Preview

Ruby Walsh surged to victory on Footpad in the Arkle Challenge Trophy Novices’ Chase

This was the first Gold Cup win for the owners and trainer. "Richard Johnson was galloping as fast as he could and jumping as fast as he could all the time and the horse never let him down once", he said.

For Johnson, it was a second victory in the Gold Cup - 18 years after his first on Looks Like Trouble.

Speaking to ITV Racing, Tizzard said: "It's unreal".

But the softer turf will be a concern, especially in the company of Colin Tizzard's Native River, who finished third by little more than two lengths in last year's instalment. They are two very courageous horses.

The Gold Cup is the most prestigious race in the jumps racing calendar and has been won by numerous greats of the racing game.

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And Elliott took the opening Triumph Hurdle with Farclas for his seventh victor of the week, and a fourth for 18-year-old jockey Jack Kennedy.

The eight-year-old has not had the best of preparations, finishing fourth in the Irish Gold Cup after a jumping error and edged an enthralling encounter with Presenting Percy, victor of the RSA, in the Red Mills Chase at Gowran Park.

Henderson feared the turf course had taken its toll after he watched Might Bite jump the final fence.

"It is the hardest race of the season as you get horses like Sizing John who can travel and then show pace at the end".

Dromore-bred Native River has won the 2018 Gold Cup. Third in the 2017 Cheltenham Gold Cup, Native River won the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury Racecourse and the Welsh National at Chepstow Racecourse in his final starts of 2016. On Friday, he was troubled by one horse in the Gold Cup and was alone at the finish.

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