Big names declared fit for Gold Cup contest

Kauto Star and Long Run are amongst a field of 15 for Friday’s Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Nicky Henderson’s defending champion Long Run was last seen winning the Denman Chase at Newbury, having previously chased home Kauto Star in both the Betfair Chase and King George.

The latter, trained by Paul Nicholls, had been rated just “50-50” to make Friday’s showpiece following a schooling fall, but has pleased connections in recent weeks and will bid to regain his crown, having won the race in 2007 and 2009.

Henderson will also saddle Burton Port, who chased home Long Run at Newbury on his return from injury, whilst Nicholls’ second string will be last-year’s fifth What A Friend who sports blinkers.

The Irish challenge will be led by Willie Mullins’ pair of Quel Esprit and The Midnight Club, whilst Mouse Morris runs China Rock.

The progressive Synchronised, winner of the Lexus Chase on his latest run, will represent Jonjo O’Neill, whilst fans favourites Carruthers and Midnight Chase, trained by Mark Bradstock and Neil Mulholland respectively, will take part.

Donald McCain’s Weird Al, Paul Webber’s Time For Rupert, Nick Williams’ Diamond Harry, George Charlton’s Knockara Beau and David Bridgwater’s The Giant Bolster complete the 15-strong field.