The Punter's Eye: Cheltenham Gold Cup Preview

Ruby Walsh celebrates winning the 14:10 Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy Novices' Chase

In an epic battle up the Prestbury Park hill, it looked for all the word like Nicky Henderson's charge would justify his favouritism but Native River (5/1) was not to be denied having finished third in this race previous year. Native River showed, again, his limitless stamina, and the determination to win regardless of the conditions when Johnson took off the gloves and the pair slugged it out to the winning post.

Anibale Fly (33-1) finished third ahead of Road To Respect and Djakadam. His jumping was great, it was the right thing to track Native River because no other horse got into the race, he had to be in the right place.

For Johnson, it was a second victory in the Gold Cup - 18 years after his first on Looks Like Trouble.

Johnson was later fined 6,550 pounds by stewards and handed a seven-day ban for misuse of the whip.

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"The more I asked from him, the better he jumped".

"It's unreal", said the Venn Farm maestro. "I came here when I was or 17 and 18, when horses like the The Dikler and Pendil were running and never thought I would win the Gold Cup and I've just done it".

That form was franked in no uncertain terms when Presenting Percy ran away with the RSA Chase on Wednesday and the latter is just 6/1 at BetVictor to win next year's Gold Cup. It looked like Might Bite was going to maybe outclass him, but he's a tough, honest horse - he's unbelievable.

"Someone's got to finish second and we've made it a race".

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Might Bite's handler, Nicky Henderson, was looking to become the first trainer to capture the Cheltenham Festival's three signature races in the same year - the Champion Hurdle, the Champion Chase, and the Gold Cup.

"Watching the Irish winning everything for the last three days, we thought we'd got no chance", he said.

I have always been a fan of the unbeaten hurdler Redicean, but fear the ground has gone against the Alan King-trained juvenile and I have jumped ship at the 11th hour to the Nicky Henderson filly Apples's Shakira.

I think this will go to Ireland and preference for Foxrock (4.10) over Burning Ambition is marginal.

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