All eyes will focus on the blue riband event of the Cheltenham Festival on Friday, as the hotly-anticipated Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup will take centre stage and it will see crowd favourite Cue Card take on a strong Irish battalion in the shape of Don Cossack, Djakadam and Don Poli, while Victoria Pendleton's day of destiny arrives, and we preview all the action here.
Cue Card Aims To Strike Gold, But Emerald Isle Unleash Strong Squad
Colin Tizzard tasted a phenomenal big-race success with Thistlecrack in the Ryanair World Hurdle on Thursday, and he will aim to reign supreme at Prestbury Park on the final day of the festival as he unleashes Cue Card in the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup, who is aiming to land the £1m bonus by adding this crown to a CV that already possesses wins in the Betfair Chase and King George VI Chase.
However, the bonus-seeking superstar will have a flurry of top quality Irish-trained horses to defeat and Don Cossack will aim to bounce back from a fall in the aforementioned King George, and will be one of the fancied runners lining up as the Emerald Isle aim to strike gold in what is a mouth-watering race in prospect.
Willie Mullins has dominated the festival once again, but the Closutton maestro is yet to taste victory in the Gold Cup in his glittering career, but he will saddle last year's runner-up Djakadam, who is aiming to go one better this time around, while Don Poli will add significant depth to a squad that oozes quality.
Hennessy Gold Cup hero Smad Place will be a further addition to a stunning field, and Alan King's front-running grey is sure to be a tough horse to pass and he adds superb depth to what has the makings of a simply wonderful blue riband event at Prestbury Park at 3:30pm on Friday afternoon.
Pendleton Faces Tough Test In Intriguing Foxhunters
Victoria Pendleton's sensational journey from being a gold medal-winning Olympic cyclist to a National Hunt jockey will reach its peak on Friday when she aims to ride Pacha Du Polder to success in the Foxhunter Chase at 4:10pm, but she will face a stiff task to get the better of some classy rivals.
On The Fringe was an easy winner of the race 12 months ago and has already been installed as a clear favourite for the race, while Paint The Clouds is having another attempt at landing this prestigious amateur prize, with Marito and Mendip Express just another brace of notable contenders in what will be an intriguing event.
Barters Hill Set For Albert Bartlett Test, As Wide Open Triumph Hurdle Opens Card
Barters Hill has long been the ante-post favourite for the Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle, which will see the future staying stars do battle in the 2:10pm contest, but Ben Pauling's pride and joy will face his toughest test to date and will face a stellar field in the 3m contest.
Shantou Village is a prominent figure in the betting and will be hoping that the drying ground and step up in trip can aid his chances, but Willie Mullins will yet again unleash a strong team at the prize and Long Dog, Up For Review and Gangster will be a trio of exciting youngsters bidding for the win.
Zubayr was a fine winner of the Adonis Juvenile Hurdle at Kempton Park last month and will aim to emulate Zarkandar by following up with victory in JCB Triumph Hurdle, which kicks off the card at 1:30pm, but Paul Nicholls' charge will face a host of notable rivals with Ivanovich Gorbatov, Sceau Royal and Footpad all lively players in a wide open betting heat.
Trio Of Handicaps Provide Tough Assignment For Punters
A bumper field of 26 runners will do battle in the County Hurdle at 2:10pm, with the likes of Blue Hell and Superb Story looking two lively contenders for that cavalry charge, while Squouateur will be a red-hot favourite for the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle, which will be the penultimate race on the card at 4:50pm.
Meanwhile, Next Sensation will attempt to finish the festival on a winning note again as he aims to land the Grand Annual Chase for the second year in a row, but the 5:30pm finale will be a devilishly difficult task for punters aiming to conclude the meeting on a winning note.