SILVINIACO Conti is the mathematical and logical choice to land today’s Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup on the final day of the Festival (3.20pm).
But Carlingford Lough would bring the Prestbury Park house down if landing the race for the outgoing Tony McCoy and the nine-year-old showed guts and stamina when winning the Irish Hennessy.
At 11-1, you could not rule him out and Willie Mullins has also sounded particularly bullish about the chances of Djakadam, whom he gave extra work to, such was his thriving condition.
Djakadam, who is six, is the potential fly in the ointment but he is rated 162 whereas Carlingford Lough is one of several horses rated at 166.
Silviniaco Conti easily surpasses them all with his official rating of 174 and unless he runs well below form or something else improves immeasurably then the Gold Cup favourite should just about win.
There is an argument for thinking the Paul Nicholls-trained chaser should actually be shorter than 4-1 given that his rating puts him some 7lbs clear of Roads To Riches, who is next best at 167.
Silviniaco Conti’s Wetherby flop in November’s Charlie Hall Chase is a distant memory – the nine-year-old was not fully fit that day – and it is impossible to crab his subsequent victory in the Betfair Chase and King George.
The obvious question mark is whether Silviniaco Conti handles the track at Cheltenham where he has never won but he was going like the winner when falling in the 2013 Gold Cup and he was only beaten a length and three-quarters despite wandering all over the place last year.
He has also been treated for stomach ulcers since then, which, Nicholls says, has helped the horse and it was perhaps telling that the Ditcheat trainer said similar work had been done on this week’s Champion Chase hero Dodging Bullets.
Peace And Co can begin with a bang in the JCB Triumph Hurdle (1.30pm). He sets the standard even as things stand yet connections think he will be even better given a faster pace and bigger field.
Black Hercules ticks lots of boxes for the Albert Bartlett, having won two from two over hurdles and representing Willie Mullins (2.40pm).
Mullins has decent prospects with Roi Des Francs in the Martin Pipe handicap hurdle (4.40pm).
Expect Ned Buntline to be all the rage in the ‘AP McCoy Grand Annual’ finale under the man himself (5.15pm) who also looks to have a good chance on the lightly-weighted Princely Conn in the 2.05pm.
1.30pm: Peace And Co – will be even better in a big field
2.05pm: Princely Conn – Has low weight under Tony McCoy
2.40pm: Black Hercules – has won both hurdle starts for Willie Mullins
3.20pm: Silviniaco Conti – clearly sets the standard on form
4pm: Current Event – recently bought by Sheikh Fahad Al Thani
4.40pm: Roi Des Francs – very progressive Mullins horse
5.15pm: Ned Buntline – McCoy’s mount in the race that carries his name