Silviniaco Conti, winner of the past two King George VI Chases at Kempton, heads the field for the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup on Friday, 13th March.

The nine-year-old could give trainer Paul Nicholls a fifth win in the race, following See More Business (1999), Kauto Star (2007, 2009) and Denman (2008).

Silviniaco Conti fell on his first run in the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2013, and finished fourth to Lord Windermere in 2014.

The latter has not won since his victory in the race last year, but the Jim Culloty-trained nine-year-old clearly comes to his best form at Cheltenham; Lord Windermere had finished out of the placings in each of his runs prior to his Gold Cup triumph last season.

He is not the only former winner in the race. Bobs Worth took the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2013 for Nicky Henderson and returns for another shot. The 10-year-old has only run once this season, when finishing down the field in the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown at Christmas. The Noel Meade-trained Roads To Riches came out on top that day, and makes his Cheltenham debut in the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup tomorrow.

Trainer Oliver Sherwood, whose brother Simon won the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup on Desert Orchid, saddles Many Clouds. The Trevor Hemmings-owned eight-year-old is unbeaten in three runs this season, including Newbury’s Hennessy Gold Cup and the BetBright Cup at Cheltenham in January.

Also winner of all his three races this winter is the Mark Bradstock-trained Coneygree. The eight-year-old, still a novice over fences, has won twice over hurdles at the track. He took the Denman Chase at Newbury on his last start in impressive style.

And the Gordon Elliott-trained Don Cossack is unbeaten in four races this season, including the John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase in December. He will be bidding to make amends for a fall in the RSA Chase at The Festival last year.

AP McCoy takes his final Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup ride on Carlingford Lough, whom he rode to victory in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Leopardstown in February the day after announcing his retirement at the end of the season. Trained by John Kiely, the nine-year-old was a Grade One winner at Punchestown last spring.

In total 18 runners are due to run in the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup. The Giant Bolster has finished in the frame for trainer David Bridgwater for the past three years, and the Cheltenham specialist is back for another attempt.

Willie Mullins has not yet won the race, despite saddling the runner-up for the past two years (Sir Des Champs in 2013 and On His Own in 2014), and sends out Boston Bob, On His Own and Djakadam this time.

GUIDE TO THE CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL 2015 – CLICK HERE

What to read next on Eclipse Magazine