The Cheltenham Gold Cup is so often the focal point of the National Hunt season and this year, Djakadam can make up for last year’s agonising second by going one better on Friday.

Willie Mullins has enjoyed a recent dominance over the four days in March but rather surprisingly, the Gold Cup still eludes the master of Closutton.

This looks as though it may change this season as he saddles Djakadam, Vautour and Don Poli, all of whom are towards the head of the market, with the former ticking plenty of boxes.

Having ran well enough over hurdles, he had always looked as though fences would be ideal and he made an ideal start, moving clear from useful rivals on his first start over the bigger obstacles.

He landed a Grade 2 next time out before heading to Cheltenham, where he was travelling sweetly in the JLT before falling four from home. He was put away before he returned a heavily gambled-on favourite for the Hennessy but he looked in need of the run, finishing a fairly disappointing eighth.

Aafter a short break he was freshened up for the Thyestes, where he really showed his class, bounding clear in the competitive handicap to ensure connections felt he was worth a chance in the Gold Cup.

It very nearly paid off as he travelled beautifully before running on well to chase home Coneygree, seemingly enjoying the test of Cheltenham hill.

He paid the price for such a hard race as he chased home Don Cossack at Punchestown before making a stunning reappearance at Punchestown in December, readily moving clear of Valseur Lido, who has since franked the form.

He was very uneasy in the market on his last start on a day where plenty of Mullins’ horses underperformed after a potentially rough ride across the Irish Sea, yet he was travelling and jumping well until coming to grief at the tenth.

Obviously the fact Djakadam has fallen twice at Cheltenham raises concerns but it is hard to question his ability and love of a trip, so his class could well help see him through.

He is usually a steady jumper and if he shows no signs of the flesh wound which he picked up at Prestbury Park effecting him, then it’s hard to see him out of the frame. He has speed, stamina and plenty of class, so where others have question marks, he already looks to be the complete package.

The current 7/2 is very fair and it could prove a perfect way to remember Cheltenham 2016!

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Odds subject to change.