Thursday was a packed day of action with favourite Un De Sceaux beaten by 8/1 shot Balko Des Flos in the Ryanair Chase to claim nearly £200,000 of prize money.
And there was a beaten favourite in the feature race too, with Sam Spinner finishing fifth in the Stayers’ Hurdle as Willie Mullins picked up yet another winner at the Festival: Penhil under Paul Townend winning by two lengths from Supasundae.
Today, Nicky Henderson’s Might Bite is expected to go off as favourite in the Gold Cup after five straight wins including the RSA Novices’ Chase here at Cheltenham last year.
So who will take all the glory at Cheltenham? Stay right here to find out.
Cheltenham 2018 LIVE – Gold Cup day as it happens
1.45pm: That is a horrendous start for the punters – I don’t know anyone who didn’t back the favourite there. That said, the ground looks and sounds heavier than it has so that could change things.
1.37pm: Farclas wins! Gordon Elliott has another one! Brilliant ride but Apple’s Shakira never got going. She travelled well on the inside but when Mr Adjudicator made a move around the final bend the favourite could not respond at all.
Mr Adjudicator and Farclas went over the last together but it was the latter who found the speed in the final half-a-furlong to take a famous 9/1 win. That’s a great result for the bookmakers.
1.32pm: They’re finally off! The roar tells you that. Sussex Ranger and Stormy Island break fastest. Apple’s Shakira is sat in the middle of the pack.
1.28pm: Right, they on their way down at the start and we are minutes away from the start of Gold Cup day. Apple’s Jade, Shakira’s sister, raced early in the week and was a beaten favourite – there are a lot of punters hoping that isn’t the case today!
1.20pm: The smallest field for this race since it became part of the Festival in 1968 with just nine runners – and Apple’s Shakira will start as a 6/5 favourite with a lot of money gong on the market-leader we understand.
1pm: You’ll all be delighted to know I’ve had my lunch and will be on tip-top form all afternoon as a result. (I might need a small siesta first but you won’t even notice.)
And more importantly, I’ve got The Scout at my right hand to guide us through the day. If you’re looking for a bet for the first race of the day, here’s his tip:
“APPLE’S SHAKIRA looks tailor-made for this. They say practice makes perfect and Nicky Henderson has ensured that his charge has gained plenty of local knowledge with all of Apple’s Shakira’s three wins coming over the Prestbury Park course.
“Has been well on top at the finish in all those runs and although this will be tougher he is definitely the one they all have to beat. Like the selection, Alan King’s Redicean has been kept exclusively to one track for his three British outings with a trio of wins recorded at Kempton. This will be a much more demanding test, but the horse is still on the upgrade.
“Stormy Ireland went off at 2/7 and beat nothing of note on his only run for Willie Mullins, but he couldn’t have won by a much bigger margin (58 lengths) and looks an exciting prospect. Whether he will be good enough to win a race of this nature at this stage of his career is open to question.”
12.30pm: Right we should start thinking about tips really, shouldn’t we? The Scout remains Britain’s top tipster among all the big media outlets so I think he’s worth listening to. Why not have a click through this picture gallery to see all of his picks? Enjoy.
12pm: I should point you in the direction of a story plenty of you are reading at the moment (so the magic analytics box tells me).
Nicky Henderson could complete a historic treble today by winning the Champion Hurdle, Champion Chase and Gold Cup – but he doesn’t seem confident.
“Of course, I’d love to make history,” Henderson says.
“But I do think Might Bite has the hardest task of the three.
“He’s in great form and we’re really excited to be coming to the race with such a great chance.”
Read the full story here.
11.30am: It’s finally here. We have made it to the end of the week. In all likelihood, you haven’t quite burned through all the money you won on your first day of action, when there were wins for favourites’ galore.
There are plenty of opportunities for punters to finish the week up though, with Might Bight likely to be around a 4/1 favourite in the Gold Cup.
Two hours to go until the first race – the JCB Triumph Hurdle.