Cheltenham Day Four tips: Mullins to finally crack Gold Cup puzzle with Bellshill
There are more sub-plots in today's Cheltenham Gold Cup than a Hollywood blockbuster as the Festival's final-day showpiece lives up to its star-studded billing.
Can Galway trainer Pat Kelly work the oracle with Presenting Percy and have the west awake once again? Or is it time for Willie Mullins to end his blue riband heartbreak as he sends a quartet of contenders?
Or is it to be back-to-back successes for Native River?
1.30 GRADE ONE JCB TRIUMPH HURDLE 2M179YDS
The market has been a good guide in the past 10 years with just one winner bigger than 10/1, and for all the doubts about the value of Sir Erec's price, he falls into the 'could be anything' category, and Mark Walsh's mount could be special.
Verdict: Sir Erec can live up to the hype.
2.10 GRADE THREE RANDOX HEALTH COUNTY HANDICAP HURDLE 2M179YDS
THIS 26-runner minefield has been a bookie benefit with no winning favourite since 2006 and shocks at monstrous odds of 50/1, 25/1 and 20/1 (four times).
Verdict: Punters will be toasting Whiskey Sour.
2.50 GRADE ONE ALBERT BARTLETT NOVICES' HURDLE 2M7F213YDS
WHAT a story it would be if Philip Dempsey could score with Derrinross, the Kildare trainer's only runner of the week, and he won't be far away in a race that has had its fair share of major shocks in recent years.
The likeable eight-year-old has stamina in abundance and will relish this gruelling test having shown his battling qualities with gutsy victories in Grade Two and Grade Three events on his last two starts.
Verdict: It would be a surprise if Derrinross doesn't make the places.
3.30 GRADE ONE MAGNERS GOLD CUP CHASE 3M2F70YDS
A CLASSIC renewal with a top-class field befitting a blue riband, where a case could be made for a dozen of the 16 contenders.
The last horse to defend the Gold Cup was the great Best Mate (2002/2003) and that's the scale of the task facing Colin Tizzard's Native River in what looks a much better renewal than 12 months ago.
The roof will come off if Davy Russell can steer Presenting Percy to glory but this might be the time for Mullins to end his hoodoo. He has hit the post six times and sends four into battle today, but Bellshill - which has the assistance of Walsh - might be the answer as there could be much more to come from the Irish Gold Cup winner.
Verdict: Bellshill may finally break Mullins' Gold Cup duck.
4.10 ST JAMES'S PLACE FOXHUNTER CHALLENGE CUP 3M2F70YDS
THE amateur riders' Gold Cup pitches young against old, with Enda Bolger's promising seven-year-old Stand Up And Fight going toe to toe with Gordon Elliott's 11-year-old Ucello Conti.
Verdict: Ucello Conti can strike for Elliott.
4.50 GRADE THREE GRAND ANNUAL HANDICAP CHASE 2M62YDS
There's only one Irish challenger in the shape of Henry de Bromhead's Mind's Eye but this difficult punters' puzzle can go the way of Paul Nicholls and Le Prezien.
Verdict: Le Prezien is the safest option.
5.30 MARTIN PIPE CONDITIONAL JOCKEYS' H'CAP HURDLE 2M4F56YDS
ELLIOTT makes no apologies in saying that outside of winning the championship races, this is the one he wants most having served his apprenticeship under Martin Pipe, and his best chance in this tricky 24-runner riddle is with the Donagh Meyler-ridden Dallas Des Pictons, which stood out as one for the notebook when showing the right attitude and plenty of stamina to score on his handicap debut at the Dublin Racing Festival in Leopardstown last month.
Verdict: Dallas Des Pictons can delight Elliott.