The Cheltenham Gold Cup is the highlight on the final day of what has been a fantastic Cheltenham Festival for in-running bettors.
If raw passion could carry a horse to victory then the 2011 Gold Cup would be over before it starts. The peerless Kauto Star comes seeking his third blue riband at his seventh Festival on the back of a turbulent preparation and up against the young lion who outstayed him last year. Make no mistake, the latest chapter of Kauto versus Long Run is the undoubted highlight of Cheltenham 2012 and I'm anticipating what could be a day of days in his final In Running Blog of the Festival.
The first point to make about this year's Gold Cup is that Timeform figures suggest Kauto Star and Long Run are the clear form choices.
The second point to make is that there is probably precious little to choose between them as they clash for the fifth time with the current score at two apiece.
And the third point is that I'm open minded as to which of the pair will come out on top.
For much of the last few months I've been of the opinion that Long Run will repeat last year's win and outstay Kauto up the hill.
However, the market reflects that feeling and I completely understand anyone who takes the view that the old champion is the value option having beaten his younger rival both in Haydock's Betfair Chase and the King George at Kempton this season.
All things considered, it might be worth thinking outside the box to find a big priced angle here.
And there could be some mileage to be found by backing the mercurial What A Friend in the markets without the big two.
Granted, What A Friend remains a risky proposition as regards winning major races, but he showed he's well capable of hunting up the best when staying on well for fourth in last year's Gold Cup and his recent third behind Long Run at Newbury should tee him up nicely for another bold bid.
Regular in-play punters will be well aware this stacks up to be a searching test, as Midnight Chase is a confirmed front runner who will have ample company up front from the likes of Carruthers, Quel Esprit, China Rock and Kauto himself.
It's hard not to root for a horse who has done as much for his sport as Kauto Star.
He could well drift in the market and run a blinder, but the way this stacks up could well open the door for a finisher to outrun long odds and What A Friend fits the bill if he puts his best foot forward.
The Triumph Hurdle has been kind to me down the years and I'm hoping it can do me another favour this year as I've had my eye on a core of three horses for some while now.
And the trio in question are Balder Success, Grumeti and Hollow Tree.
Splitting this posse is tough. Hollow Tree finished behind Grumeti here in January but was conceding 3lb and may have gone for home a shade earlier than ideal, while Grumeti has long looked the ideal sort for a demanding race like this and Balder Success has bolted up on all his three hurdles starts and boasts the sort of bold, accurate jumping style which is often the hallmark of the very best juveniles.
I'm happy enough to back all three with a view to laying off in the run, but push me hard and I would probably side with Balder Success as the most likely winner.
Granted, Alan King's stable jockey Robert Thornton has opted for Grumeti. But Ruby Walsh chose Sam Winner ahead of Zarkandar in this race last year. And we all know how that ended.