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We are a week away from the feature race of the Cheltenham Festival, the Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup (3.30), in which Galopin Des Champs is a huge favourite to win for the second year in succession. Are our tipsters taking him on or are they looking elsewhere for winners next Friday?

Race: Triumph Hurdle (1.30)

Odds: 12-1

By Gary Savage

The Spring Hurdle at Leopardstown has been the key race for the Triumph in recent years, and defeat in that contest doesn’t preclude victory at Cheltenham.

 A decent pace and a test of stamina here will help Storm Heart reverse placings with Kargese. Drying ground won’t do him any harm either, and at least a place looks there for the taking.

Race: County Hurdle (2.10)

Odds: 12-1

By Tom Park

Under Control beat a then 120-rated Iberico Lord at Sandown last season off a mark of 128 and that rates a serious piece of form. I thought she’d be competing in Grade 1s this term, but a wind issue came to light when she stopped rather quickly on her seasonal return at Newbury. 

She travelled like the winner until the final few furlongs, and was much better last time after a wind op when splitting Ashroe Diamond and Gala Marceau at Doncaster. That is top-class form and she has plenty of scope for improvement off a mark of 138 provided she is none the worse after being withdrawn from last weekend’s Morebattle Hurdle after veterinary advice.

Jky: Tnr: Nicky Henderson

Race: Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle (2.50)

Odds: 11-1

By Scott Burton

There was a lot to like about Shanagh Bob’s performance back in December over the same course and distance as the Albert Bartlett, with Nico de Boinville getting a good trip through the race before having to get serious turning into the straight. 

The form may not be anything special for the grade but this big frame of a horse looks the right type for what is always a test of stoutness as much as pure class. A sound jumper and a thorough stayer, Shanagh Bob was a £200,000 purchase out of the pointing field, and we may be some way from knowing his limits.

Jky: Tnr: Nicky Henderson

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Race: Gold Cup (3.30)

Odds: 9-2

By Johnny Dineen

All eyes will be on Galopin Des Champs who attmepts to go back-to-back in the Gold Cup, but that is never an easy thing to do and plenty have failed. My guess is that he will join that long list.

Fastorslow, Shishkin and possibly even Gerri Colombe can put it up to the favourite, who has had a few hard races already this season, and that may well prove his downfall. Shishkin is a huge danger if on a going day, but a chance is taken on Fastorslow, who is likely to peak at the right time.

Race: Gold Cup (3.30)

Odds: 13-2

By Sam Hardy

Connections of Shishkin would have been thrilled with his win in the Denman Chase and will fancy their chances again in the Gold Cup if he’s in the same mood.

The ten-year-old would likely have won the King George had it not been for a slip after jumping the second-last and is the best chance of a British winner this year.

Jky: Tnr: Nicky Henderson

Race: Gold Cup (3.30)

Odds: 14-1

By Matt Rennie

At the prices Galopin Des Champs must be taken on and I’m happy to side against him with L’Homme Presse.

He’s made satisfactory returns from a long injury layoff over inadequate trips and bookmakers overreacted with his defeat in the Ascot Chase last time. That came over 2m5f and I think he needs much further now – he should relish the 3m2½f Gold Cup trip.

Crucially, he’s also unbeaten at Cheltenham with impressive victories in the Dipper and Brown Advisory in 2022. The 14-1 about him is incredibly tempting.

Jky: Tnr: Venetia Williams

Race: Martin Pipe (5.30)

Odds: 25-1

By Rob Sutton

Ran well for a long way in last year’s Pertemps Final when sent off favourite. Only reappeared at the end of last month at Chepstow and while he was well down the field, the very heavy ground is a valid excuse. 

He remains well handicapped for this event and a reproduction of some of his best form from last season would give David Pipe a chance of landing his father’s race.

Read these next:

‘I wouldn’t play at 6-4 never mind 4-6’ – assessing the chances of these red-hot Cheltenham Festival favourites 

Big-race tips: why this horse can win the Stayers’ Hurdle or Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival 

Big-race tips: why this horse can win on Champion Chase day at the Cheltenham Festival next Wednesday 

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