Kauto Star was the first of the big names out of the traps this season with his comfortable win in the JNwine Champion chase at Down Royal recently, he struggled around Kempton though when third behind Long Run in the King George VI Chase recently. The age of Kauto Star looked to be catching up with him and although he will go to Cheltenham his odds for the big race have drifted somewhat as a result of his run at Kempton.

Long Run has made his first run of the season in the Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham; the Nicky Henderson horse went off as favourite but disappointed slightly to finish third behind eventual winner Little Josh. Long Run has bounced back though to register a massive win in the King George VI Chase at Kempton, he defeated Kauto Star with some ease and looks to be the real deal at least around Kempton. There are one or two doubts about his chances around Cheltenham but he is hugely talented and looks to be a real Gold Cup contender.

Imperial Commander returned to the track with a good win at Haydock in the Betfair Chase, he won with something in hand and he looks to be in great shape ahead of his Gold Cup defence in March. He comfortably beat the likes of Planet Of Sound and What A Friend at Haydock despite suffering a cut to one of his legs, that injury means he misses the King George Chase at Kempton and he will now go straight to Cheltenham for the Gold Cup.

The Hennessy Gold Cup is always a race to follow with the Gold Cup in mind and we saw a hugely impressive winner in Diamond Harry who now looks to be a real Gold Cup horse. He was carrying 2st less than Denman who was back in third while Burton Port also ran well to claim a battling second place at Newbury, all three were cut in the Gold Cup Betting with Diamond Harry the most impressive.

We have seen a series of impressive runs from Midnight Chase who has proven to be somewhat of a Cheltenham specialist winning his last four starts at Prestbury Park, he impressed everyone in winning at the Open Meeting before following that up with an exciting success at the International Meeting. He is a progressive type and at the moment looks like improving with every run so has to be one to consider in the Gold Cup Betting, especially at an each-way price.

The Lexus Chase is always a good race ahead of the Cheltenham Gold Cup and we have seen Pandorama claim the win at Leopardstown over Christmas. Noel Meade has long thought a lot of Pandorama and he was impressive when winning his first grade 1 Chase, he will now be aimed at Cheltenham and could be the strongest challenger from Ireland.

Paul Nicholls looks to have Neptune Collonges back to somewhere near his best after he won the Argento Chase to well on Cheltenham Festival Trials Day recently. The grey is finished third in the race in 2009 and after a long lay-off with an injury he has returned this campaign, he seems to act around Cheltenham which is in his favour and is likely to come in for plennty of each-way money. He is a former winner of the Irish Hennessy and that race has been won by Kempes this season who now looks likely to go to the Cheltenham Gold Cup for Willie Mullins. He has been cut across the board for the big race and now looks one of the talking horses for the Gold Cup with the horse in with a great each-way shout.

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