Cheltenham Gold Cup preview: Al Boum Photo, A Plus Tard & Champ head line-up

By Frank KeoghBBC Sport at Cheltenham
Rachael Blackmore on A Plus Tard
Rachael Blackmore has won five races at this week's Festival and is favourite to be the meeting's top jockey
Cheltenham Gold Cup 2021
Dates: 19 March Venue: Cheltenham Racecourse Time: 15:05 GMT
Coverage: Commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live. Racecards, live text, results & reports on the BBC Sport website and app.

Rachael Blackmore will seek more racing history on A Plus Tard in Friday's Cheltenham Gold Cup, where Al Boum Photo also seeks another landmark.

Blackmore, 31, is aiming to become the first female jockey to win jump racing's blue riband event.

She was the first woman to ride the Champion Hurdle winner, with Honeysuckle on Tuesday.

Al Boum Photo is bidding to become only the second horse since Arkle in the 1960s to win the big race three times.

Trainer Willie Mullins will be hoping he can emulate the last - Best Mate, 17 years ago.

"It's unbelievable to be on the brink of an Arkle achievement," said Mullins, who will also run Kemboy in the race. "It would be extraordinary if he managed to do it. We never dreamed he would."

Al Boum Photo
Paul Townend will ride Al Boum Photo again after winning the Gold Cup with him in 2019 and 2020

Last year's RSA Chase winner Champ, trained by Nicky Henderson and named by owner JP McManus after 20-time champion jockey AP McCoy, is another fancied contender.

They are the market leaders in an intriguing 12-strong field where Bryony Frost, like Blackmore, will also be looking to become the Gold Cup's first victorious female jockey.

Frost was the first woman to ride a Grade One winner over fences at the Festival, with Frodon in the Ryanair Chase two years ago, and the pair come here after landing the King George VI Chase.

She says Cheltenham "is his playground" and few could argue, given he has won at the course six times.

"Every year somebody triumphs and makes history," she said. "We weren't born knowing, we have discovered as we have gone.

"Rachael and Honeysuckle are brilliant to watch. They seem made for each other and it was a mega moment on Tuesday.

"There isn't just me and Rachael in the Gold Cup, though. There are 12 of us and we all know each other and our tactics. That's what makes it fun, finding those inches."

Bryony Frost on Frodon
Bryony Frost said Frodon was 'like Pegasus, he's got wings' after winning at Cheltenham two years ago

Rivals include last year's runner up Santini - trained, like Champ, by Henderson - and third-placed Lostintranslation, who represents Colin Tizzard, along with 2018 champion Native River.

Henry de Bromhead, who saddles A Plus Tard and Minella Indo, has a chance to become the first trainer since Kim Bailey in 1995 to win both the Champion Hurdle and the Gold Cup at the same Festival.

Blackmore, if successful on A Plus Tard, would complete the riding double last achieved by McCoy in 1997 on Make A Stand and Mr Mulligan.

She has won five races at this week's Festival and is favourite to be the meeting's top jockey.

"It's amazing. Rachael is as good as any of them - male, female, she is as good as any of the guys," said De Bromhead after her Champion Hurdle triumph.

The novice Royal Pagaille and outsiders Aso and Black Op complete the line-up.

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