The December Gold Cup has long been one of the biggest handicap races of the season at Cheltenham and this weekends race is looking like an exciting one. The race is run over 2m5f on the second day of the International Meeting and a number of Festival hopefuls will be testing their claims in the race. The likely favourite is Walkon who looks set to take his chance off of a nice mark for trainer Alan King. He ran a stormer last month at Cheltenham when second in the Paddy Power Gold Cup behind Al Ferof and a repeat of that run here would surely see him go very close indeed. He ran a decent race in the RSA Chase at the Festival last season when fifth and a good run in the December Gold Cup would see him continue his good record at Prestbury Park. The worry about him is that he does run best when fresh as he showed last month but to be fair to connections this is the obvious race for him and he is understood to be in fine form at home.
There are a number of other nice types looking to test their claims in the December Gold Cup on Saturday including the excellent Wishfull Thinking. The Philip Hobbs horse fell in the Champion Chase last season but at his best he is more than good enough to feature here despite carrying a fair old lump on his back. The bottom one is Unioniste for Paul Nicholls and having just sneaked in the race might just be a major contender. The horse finished third behind Dynaste last month and should be suited by the conditions while the same can be said of Cristal Bonus who loves soft ground and forms the second part of a strong team from the Champion Trainer. It really does look to be a cracking renewal at Cheltenham this season with these horses bidding to join the famous winners of the past including Exotic Dancer, Pegwell Bay and Poquelin among many others. It is set to be a cracking day of action on Saturday with the International Hurdle set to follow this one on the card with thousands expected at the track for one of the big days of pre-Christmas action.