The 2017 Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Sizing John heads the list of 38 entries released for this year’s renewal in March.
Sizing John had an outstanding year in 2017 winning the Irish Gold Cup, Cheltenham Gold Cup and Punchestown Gold Cup.
He made a successful reappearance this season, impressively winning the John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase in December before a disappointing showing in the Christmas Chase at Leopardstown’s Christmas Festival at the end of last month.
Nicky Henderson’s Might Bite is the current 7-2 market leader with Sizing John trading around 6-1.
The nine-year-old Might Bite was a remarkable winner of the RSA Chase at last year’s Cheltenham Festival after almost throwing the race away on the run-in. He recently won the King George VI Chase at Kempton Park on St. Stephen’s Day.
Henderson, who previously won chasing’s blue riband event with Long Run in 2011 and Bobs Worth in 2013 will be bidding to win his third Cheltenham Gold Cup in two months time.
Mark Bradstock’s 2015 Gold Cup hero Coneygree is among the entries, as are Colin Tizzard’s Native River, who has not been seen since finishing third in the 2017 renewal, and the ever popular veteran Cue Card.
The Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained pair of Bristol De Mai and Blaklion have entries in the race as has last year’s runner up Minella Rocco, trained by Co. Cork-born Jonjo O’Neill.
Other notables among the 18 Irish entries are the dual Cheltenham Gold Cup runner-up Djakadam from the Willie Mullins stable. He failed to fire on his most recent run at Leopardstown’s Christmas Festival, but could be joined in the Cheltenham showpiece by his stable companion Total Recall, winner of the Ladbrokes Trophy.
Noel Meade’s recent Christmas Chase winner Road To Respect, his stablemate Disko, Jessica Harrington’s 2017 Irish Grand National winner Our Duke and the Eddie Harty-trained Coney Island are other possible Irish raiders.