Will Colin Tizzard’s Native River claim the Cheltenham Gold Cup again?

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Will Colin Tizzard’s Native River claim the Cheltenham Gold Cup again?

When Native River raced home to victory in last year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup, he defeated the favourite, Might Bite, by four-and-a-half lengths. The champion returns this year hoping to successfully defend his crown, but faces stiff competition from Clan Des Obeaux and Presenting Percy.
In the build-up to the race, it has been Presenting Percy who has been the favourite to win the Gold Cup according to bookmakers such as Paddy Power. Now though, he is the joint favourite, as Clan Des Obeaux’s form in the early season? has made him one to watch out for.
Native River is third in the odds, at a price of 11/2, but it might be wise to steer clear of placing a bet on him, as his early season form has not been promising. He started the new season by running in the Lancashire Chase at Haydock, in which he finished second, behind Bristol De Mai. Although it was a disappointing result, he did at least finish ahead of Might Bite, the favourite prior to the race, and Clan Des Obeaux.
His second, and most recent race was in the King George VI Chase at Kempton. He failed to improve on his previous performance and could only manage a third place finish, some 12 lengths behind second placed Thistlecrack. This time Clan Des Obeaux was able to prove his ability by finishing in first, some one-and-a-half lengths ahead of Thistlecrack.
Apart from his fourth place finish at Haydock, Clan Des Obeaux has had a good start to the new season and on top of the win at Kempton, also won the Betfair Denman Chase at Ascot. The margin of victory was 11 lengths, with the French horse running as the favourite and easily defeating Terrefort, Ballyhill and Thomas Patrick.
It’s hard to gain a measure on how Presenting Percy will perform at Cheltenham this year, as he has only raced once in the new season. Last season he managed four wins from six races, with the other two being top three finishes. His one appearance so far this season was a victory at Gowran Park in the John Mulhern Galmoy Hurdle, in which he ran as the 9/4 favourite and clinched victory by one-and-a-quarter lengths ahead of Bapaume.
While Native River’s form suggests he may not be in great shape heading into his Gold Cup defence, Clan Des Obeaux hasn’t run perfectly and Presenting Percy has only competed in one race. It’s hard to get a measure of this race.
Fourth favourite, Kemboy, might just be the one that Native River needs to keep an eye on. He has raced twice so far this season, first in the Clonmel Oil Chase at Clonmel, where he raced home to victory after being named the 11/8 favourite. But it was his second race that was the more impressive, as he raced home ahead of Monalee, Road To Respect and Bellshill to claim victory in the Savills Chase at Leopardstown.
With just over a week until the Cheltenham Festival begins, who do you think will take home the coveted Gold Cup?

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