THIS year’s bet365 Gold Cup is typically competitive – as you’d expect when there is £150,000 in prize money up for grabs.
A field of 20 are set to go to post and there are plenty in with a chance.
1. Beware The Bear – Nicky Henderson/Jeremiah McGrath (14-1)
Regular in big staying handicaps and landed a big pot at the Cheltenham Festival.
Withdrawn from Scottish National on account of fast ground, so may find conditions a bit lively here.
Nicky Henderson on Beware The Bear
“We took him out of the Scottish Grand National because the ground at Ayr was lightning quick.
“I’d be amazed if it was as quick at Sandown, but we’ll have to see.
“He has done nothing wrong all year – he has had a fantastic season.
“We have just ridden him differently, and it has helped him.”
2. Yala Enki – Venetia Williams/Charlie Deutsch (25-1)
Cracking servant to the Venetia Williams yard and he has run several good races again this year.
Perhaps a shade high in the weights are present and would prefer slower ground.
3. Rock The Kasbah – Philip Hobbs/Richard Johnson (14-1)
Sixth and second in the last two renewals of this race.
Brought down in the Grand National last time but could bounce back here.
4. Present Man – Paul Nicholls/Bryony Frost (16-1)
Pulled up and a distant third off lower marks in last two renewals of this contest.
Has undergone a wind op and arrives fresh, so not totally ruled out.
Paul Nicholls on Present Man
“Present Man is nice and fresh, and he ran well in the race last year (finished third).
“He likes to be fresh and he wants decent ground, so he wouldn’t want too much rain.
“We’ve trained him for this race in particular, and we are hoping for a good run.”
5. Adrien Du Pont – Paul Nicholls/Nick Scholfield (20-1)
Impressive winner off 6lb lower at Kempton in December.
Not so good in two runs since and big stamina doubts here.
6. Joe Farrell – Rebecca Menzies/Aidan Coleman (16-1)
Scottish National hero in 2018 but never at the races in the Grand National.
Could bounce back but has a point to prove at present.
7. Step Back – Mark Bradstock/Nico De Boinville (8-1)
Won this race last year but has had a quiet year so far.
Well-backed in recent days and not ruled out in first-time cheek pieces.
Sara Bradstock on Step Back
“We’d like to see a bit of rain, because if there was any jar in the ground we wouldn’t run him.
“He seems in good form. He surprised us how well he came out of the National because he’s not the sort of robust horse that you would normally run again so quickly.
“We’re fairly sure he bruised his foot early on at Aintree – and because of that, he didn’t give himself a hard race.
“I don’t know who has been backing him, because I hadn’t even told anyone we were definitely running him.
“I suppose it doesn’t look the strongest of renewals – he won the race easily last year and he’s only 10lb higher.
“He hasn’t had as good a preparation as last year. Last season this was the target, whereas this season it wasn’t.
“I can’t say I’m confident, but at the same time I wouldn’t be blown away if he was to run a big race.”
8. Talkischeap – Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson (9-1)
Slightly disappointing when sent off 4-1 for a big pot at Kempton in February.
Arrives here fresh and could relish this stiffer test of stamina.
Alan King on Talkischeap
“Whether he should be favourite, I have my doubts, but I hope he’ll run well.
“He’s fresh and well, and this has been his target for some time.
“We had him in the Scottish National as well, but this was always the plan really.
“It looks an open race, but it will still take plenty of winning.”
9. Rolling Dylan – Philip Hobbs/James Best (20-1)
Holding his form well this season without finding the back of the net.
Not on a bad mark but needs to pull out more for win purposes.
10. Vyta Du Roc – Nicky Henderson/Daryl Jacob (25-1)
Very smart performer at his best but he appears to have lost his way.
Needs the fitting of a visor to spark him back to life.
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11. Give Me A Copper – Paul Nicholls/Harry Cobden (10-1)
Well-fancied for the Ultima at Cheltenham but he was beaten when falling.
Still lightly-raced and he remains a horse of significant potential.
Paul Nicholls on Give Me A Copper
“Give Me A Cooper has run well at Sandown before, but he doesn’t want it too soft either – he wants goodish ground.
“He is not without a chance, because he is fresh as well. It would be a good way to end the season if one of them could win it.”
12. The Young Master – Neil Mulholland/Sam Waley-Cohen (8-1)
Won this race off 6lb higher in 2016 and he rediscovered some form earlier this year.
Good third at the Festival last time and he looks sure to run well.
Neil Mulholland on The Young Master
“He ran very well in Cheltenham, obviously, and seems to have come out of the race well.
“He has a nice racing weight on his back (10st 8lb) – and as long as they don’t get too much rain, he must go there with a live chance.
“He’s a few years older than when he last won it. But he’s in good form, and if he runs as well as he did in Cheltenham he must have a big shout.”
13. West Approach – Colin Tizzard/Jonjo O’Neill  (20-1)
Mainly campaigned over hurdles this year and has generally performed with credit.
Not on a bad mark now switched back to chasing, but slight stamina doubts.
14. Flying Angel – Nigel Twiston-Davies/Sam Twiston-Davies (25-1)
Useful at his best but another runner in here who has lost his form.
Step back in the right direction at Aintree but doubt he’ll stay this far.
15. Ballydine – Charlie Longsdon/James Bowen (20-1)
Out and out stayer who looks sure to win one of these big pots at some stage.
Rare poor effort on heavy ground last time but no surprise to see him go well at a price.
16. Prime Venture – Evan Williams/Adam Wedge (20-1)
Yet to win in six attempts over fences and at his best on soft ground.
Unlikely to get conditions to suit here. Opposed.
bet365 Gold Cup – past winners
2014 Hadrian’s Approach 10-1
2015 Just A Par 14-1
2016 The Young Master 8-1
2017 Henllan Harri 40-1
2018 Step Back 7-1
17. Just A Sting – Harry Fry/Sean Bowen (12-1)
Two wins and an excellent season in the first half of his campaign.
Flopped at Cheltenham and stamina doubts now stepped up in trip.
18. Captain Chaos – Dan Skelton/Harry Skelton (20-1)
Two near misses in big staying races at Newcastle and Wetherby.
Not a bad run at Cheltenham but more needed for the win.
19. Rathlin Rose – David Pipe/Tom Scudamore (33-1)
Won a decent race at Ascot in March off 5lb lower.
Midfield in the Scottish National last time out and looks up against it.
20. Le Reve – Lucy Wadham/Maxime Tissier (16-1)
Strong stayer who has bounced back to form this winter.
Perhaps not the force of old, though, and vulnerable to younger legs.