Last year’s winner, Paul Townend, is a short-priced favourite to defend his title, at the low odds of 4/11 with Sky Bet and it is not difficult to see why.
Willie Mullins’ number one jockey only managed two wins over the first two days last year before a final day treble pulled him past the winning line but looks sure to surpass his total of five this year.
Townend will be hoping for a third successive Gold Cup win on favourite Al Boum Photo and will also have the services of short-priced favourites, Monkish, in the Brown Advisory Plate and Chacun Pour Soi in the Champion Chase.
The 30-year-old looks to have several live chances on the opening day too, including Supreme Novices’ Hurdle Appreciate It and Concertista, a hot favourite for the Mares Hurdle. Townend is also helped by the fact that this year no amateur jockeys will be allowed to ride at the festival and will be hoping he can steer Billaway to success in the Foxhunters Chase.
He also has many other handicap chances and the likes of Min in the Ryanair Chase, Energumene in the Arkle Chase, and exciting Kilcruit in the Champion Bumper and it could be a week to remember for Paul Townend.