Sport 66-1 shot Auroras Encore, left, won the race last year

The number will have to be whittled down before the race in April

From left to right: Tony McCoy, Synchronised and Long Run in the Cheltenham Gold Cup

Greatness rewarded – and it is the real McCoy

When Kauto Star was preserved from further risk you could sense the sport’s sigh of relief

Sprinter Sacre will be a short-priced favourite in the Arkle Trophy today

'Film star' Sacre could kick off week with scene-stealing run

This year's meeting is dominated by short-priced established stars and precocious talent, writes our award-winning tipster Chris McGrath

Kauto Star was feared a doubtful starter in Friday's showpiece event

Kauto Star fit to run in Cheltenham Gold Cup

Kauto Star will bid for a third Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup victory after delighting connections in an “awesome” schooling session at his Ditcheat base.

Signs good for Kauto Star making Gold Cup

The morning after the day before is the telling time for any racehorse trainer, let alone one with a recuperating national hero under his care, and yesterday's brought only good news for Paul Nicholls as Kauto Star emerged from his stable unscathed after working round a circuit of Wincanton racecourse the previous evening.

ALAN KING: Trainer’s Triumph Hurdle hope Grumeti was lame yesterday but is still expected to run

Kauto vibes leave rival on the run

If it was uncharacteristic of Paul Nicholls not to disclose Kauto Star's schooling fall until six days later, he has certainly been living up to his reputation since. The champion trainer has been releasing scrupulously detailed daily bulletins on the horse's recuperation, and yesterday went one step further by announcing his intention to gallop the horse in public on Friday.

Long Run races up the hill to win last year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup. Finishes will be scrutinised by the authorities next week for excessive use of the whip

Stewards given whip hand with new guidelines

Not for the first time, new guidelines governing use of the whip were rushed through yesterday with one of British racing's showcase occasions specifically in mind. It would be disappointing, however, if regulating in haste on this occasion caused quite so much repenting at leisure.

Barzalona signed as new boy in Blue

Cheltenham? What do you mean, Cheltenham? Well, yes, perhaps it will help pass the time. But the real anticipation, in some quarters, is for the forthcoming Flat season – and not just because of Frankel.

AP McCoy was banned last week under the controversial current whip rules
Paul Hanagan (right) has earned promotion

Champion Hanagan lands Hamdan post

The theory that the jockeys' championship is nowadays a brute measure of stamina and consistency, rather than a proof of essential class, has this week been roundly rejected by the Maktoum family. On Tuesday, they hired Silvestre De Sousa to ride for Godolphin; and yesterday Sheikh Hamdan filled his impending vacancy, as retained jockey, with the only man to top De Sousa in last year's standings. For Paul Hanagan, the appointment is a gratifying breakthrough even after consecutive titles in 2010 and 2011, which had seemed to consummate long, uncomplaining service away from the big stage.

Sam Waley-Cohen, the Gold Cup winning amateur, seeks his first win of the season on Long Run today

Long Run team face a test of nerve

Last year, an equivalent postponement after two horses had been electrocuted in the parade ring could only alter the tone, six days later, from macabre to melancholy. This time round, the card scheduled for Newbury last Saturday was lost merely to snow and frost, and the silver linings are dazzling. For one thing, entry today is free. And the goodwill that has secured this boon extends to the sponsors' injection of extra funding, despite the loss of a weekend profile, to guarantee the Betfair Hurdle's status as the richest handicap of its type in the calendar. Before that prize is won and lost Channel 4 viewers will already have seen one of the most exciting novice chasers of recent seasons, in Sprinter Sacre, and Long Run's rehearsal for the defence of his Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Cristal’s talent at last becomes clear

Whether or not it was the change of training ground that did it, Cristal Bonus finally justified his fancy transfer fee at Chepstow yesterday. The six-year-old showed such promise as a youngster in France that his then owners would not let him go for a bid of nearly £300,000 when they sent him to auction.

Ruby Walsh and Kauto Star clear the last to win the King George VI at Kempton last month from Sam Waley-Cohen on board Long Run

Chris McGrath: Waley-Cohen wisest in the long run

Inside Track

Al Ferof will be given an entry for the Queen Mother Champion Chase

Chris McGrath: Squadron can enjoy victory parade

Inside Track

Tony McCoy and Synchronised celebrate victory at Leopardstown

Synchronised exposes lack of Gold Cup depth

One thing Kauto Star has not really had to contend with, in any of the last five Gold Cups, is a genuine challenger from Ireland – with the possible exception of Pandorama, who finished so sore at Cheltenham in March that he will not be seen at all this season. Sadly, to judge from what happened here yesterday, things will be little different this time round. True, there were signs that the present crop of novices are working towards a breakthrough, but an emphatic success for Synchronised in the Lexus Chase seemed to give extra edge to the icy gale that came blasting out of the Wicklow hills.

Diamond Harry clears the last to win the 2010 Hennessy at Newbury

Diamond can sparkle in company of legends

No matter what the heart says, one look at the odds is enough to make the head hopelessly confused.

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Prices correct as of 23 January 2015
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