34 Left In Gold Cup, Headed By Last Years' Winner Imperial Commander


Tagged under: 3.20 Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup Steeple Chase 3m 2 1/2f

The 2011 totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup looks like being a seriously competitive affair, as 34 horses have been left in the race at the latest forfeit stage, including the three that have dominated the contest for the last four years.

Imperial Commander ( 2010 ), Kauto Star ( 2007 and 2009 ), and Denman ( 2008 ) look set to renew rivalry on March 18th, and while the ante-post market suggests that they are all likely to play a major role in the outcome, there is plenty of young blood waiting for father time to take effect.

Last years' winner Imperial Commander is a solid favourite at a general 4/1, followed by Kauto Star, who is a top price 5/1 with Stan James to record win number three in the £500,000 contest.

The older brigade are likely to face a serious challange on several fronts, headed by Hennessy Gold Cup winner Diamond Harry, a stand-out 12/1 with Betfred, and Lexus Chase winner Pandorama, although the latter is unlikely to take part if the ground is any faster than good to soft.

With leading novice Time For Rupert more likely to opt for the easier RSA Chase, the two horses that come into the reckoning fought out the finish at a foggy Newbury on 29th December in the Mandarin Chase.

Pride Of Dulcote prevailed by a head on that occasion from leading staying hurdler Punchestown, and after lengthy lay-off's both horses have the scope and ability to eventually make their mark over the bigger obstacles.

Paul Nicholls' charge can be backed at 28/1 with Bet365 and Victor Chandler, while Nicky Henderson's World Hurdle runner-up is widely available at three points shorter.

With both horses still only 8 years old, their best days are surely still to come, whereas father time will catch up with both Kauto Star and Denman, sooner rather than later.

While most racing enthusiasts will be routing for the old favourites come March, 2011 may just see the beginning of the next generation of the chasing elite.

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