The Cheltenham Gold Cup is steeplechasing's blue riband, a prestigious sporting contest which has been held since 1924.
Past winners have included the likes of Golden Miller, Arkle, Dawn Run, Best Mate, Kauto Star and Denman. 13 runners will face the starter at 3.30 for a searching test over 22 fences and a distance of 3 and a quarter miles.
To win a Gold Cup, a horse needs to possess the speed to be comfortable in a race in which there is a searching gallop and the stamina to last up the Cheltenham hill. It requires class and there is no hiding place in the attempt to be an equine champion.
Willie Mullins has trained 52 Festival winners, but never the winner of the Gold Cup. He is represented by a worthy favourite in Djakadam, who has been second in this race for the last two years. I spoke to Mullins at Leopardstown recently and he was very happy with his chaser, this all before the 4 winners he produced on Thursday. It's now or never for Djakadam and if he doesn't win it this year, he will never win it.
The one thing that has been niggling away and made me look at the race time and time again is that Djakadam always tends to find one horse too good.
Can Native River beat him? Not so sure, I think he lacks class at this level.
Can Cue Card beat him? Not so sure, I think age is against him at 11 and he can be inconsistent.
Can Outlander beat him? Not so sure, as he fell at Cheltenham before and I don't know if he will stay or is good enough?
Can More of That beat him? Not so sure, as he's bled before and I don't know if he will last the distance.
Can Champagne West or Bristol De Mai beat him? I don't think so, as they have made too many jumping mistakes in previous races.
The one improver I have come up with is Sizing John. The Jessica Harrington trained horse will be ridden by Robbie Power and I think he is the joker in the pack.
He's only seven years of age and is improving. Having spent most of his career running in two mile races behind Douvan, Harrington upped him in distance to 3 miles for the Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown in February and he finished out the race well to win quite easily.
I think Sizing John has the tactical speed and he is an efficient jumper. The question mark is the distance. If he stays, he has a massive chance. On breeding, I think he will stay and we have seen in the past with Best Mate and Kicking King that horses can win a Gold Cup once they go up in distance. The stamina queries are factored into his price of 8/1, but I think he has a big each way shout of capping a marvellous week for Ireland at this Festival.
Of course I could be wrong, but the beauty of trying to play God and predict the future is that you don't know until it actually happens. Sometimes we get it right, most of the time we don't. We keep trying.
Enjoy the race!