Three past winners are among the bumper 43 entries revealed for the 2019 Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup.
It is the highest number since 2007 for the Gold Cup, which will be run on Friday, March 15th. The entries include a record 24 from Ireland.
Three of the last four winners feature among the entries in 2019 - last year's hero Native River (Colin Tizzard), 2017 victor Sizing John (Jessica Harrington) and Coneygree (Mark Bradstock), who became the first novice to win the contest in 41 years when successful in 2015.
Currently heading the ante-post market is Presenting Percy (Patrick Kelly), one of the record number of Irish-trained entries.
Presenting Percy is seeking a three-timer having taken the Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle in 2017 and the Grade 1 RSA Novices' Chase in 2018.
He has yet to start so far this season, with connections waiting for softer ground and the Galmoy Hurdle (January 24th) at Gowran Park later this month could be his first run back.
Native River gamely defeated Might Bite (Nicky Henderson) by four and a half lengths in 2018 after finishing third to the Irish-trained Sizing John the year before.
In two outings so far this season, Native River finished second in the Grade 1 Betfair Chase at Haydock Park in November, going down by four lengths to Bristol De Mai and then came third behind Clan Des Obeaux and stablemate Thistlecrack in the Grade 1 32Red King George VI Chase at Kempton Park.
Native River and Thistlecrack, along with last month's Coral Welsh Grand National hero Elegant Escape, are Colin Tizzard's three entries. Joe Tizzard, assistant to his father who trains on the Dorset/Somerset border, reported: "Thistlecrack will go straight to the Gold Cup. He hasn't got there yet in his career, but he deserves to get there.
"With Native River, we haven't definitely decided, but quite possibly he will turn up in the Denman Chase (Newbury, February 9th) and then on to the Gold Cup to defend his crown.
"We were really pleased with both Native River and Thistlecrack at Kempton and they have both just been ticking along since.
"Elegant Escape also has an entry for the Gold Cup and that is almost certainly the way we will be looking, and hoping there will be a bit of cut in the ground. He will also have a Grand National entry.
"It is difficult to know what to do with Elegant Escape next. He is rated 159 now and needs to find a bit more to be competitive in a Gold Cup."
Kemboy is one of Willie Mullins nine entries
The Gold Cup is one of the few the races to have eluded Willie Mullins - he has saddled six seconds - but he has the most entries of any handler in 2019 with nine engaged.
Among the Mullins-trained entries is Grade 1 Savills Chase winner Kemboy, lightly-raced recent Listed scorer Al Boum Photo, 2018 Grade 1 Punchestown Gold Cup winner Bellshill, former dual festival winner Yorkhill, last season Grade 2 National Hunt Chase scorer Rathvinden and Total Recall, who took the valuable Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury in 2017.
Gordon Elliott won the Gold Cup in 2016 with Don Cossack and his seven entries this year include last season's Grade 1 JLT Novices' Chase winner Shattered Love. Other Irish-trained contenders include last year's third and fourth, Anibale Fly (Tony Martin) and Road To Respect (Noel Meade).
The grey Bristol De Mai, owned by Simon Munir and Isaac Souede, fell at the ninth fence in the 32Red King George VI Chase.
Nigel Twiston-Davies, who landed the Gold Cup in 2010 with Imperial Commander, reported: "Bristol De Mai is in good form at home.
"After his fall at Kempton, he was a bit bruised but not too bad and has been cantering away since.
"There is a possibility he could go to Haydock and run over hurdles in the Rendlesham Hurdle (February 16th) to give him a confidence booster and then on to the Gold Cup."
Paul Nicholls has taken the Gold Cup four times. His four 2019 entries are headed by King George VI Chase winner Clan Des Obeaux and also include Cheltenham specialist Frodon, the lightly-raced Give Me A Copper and prolific winner Black Corton.
Champion British trainer Nicky Henderson is responsible for three entries.
In addition to Might Bite, Henderson has also put in Valtor, an impressive winner on his UK debut in a listed handicap chase at Ascot in December, and Terrefort, runner-up in the 2018 JLT Novices' Chase before winning an Aintree Grade 1.
Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup Grade 1, £625,000. 3.30pm, Cheltenham, Friday, March 15th.
ACAPELLA BOURGEOIS (FR) 9 Slaneyville Syndicate Willie Mullins IRE
AL BOUM PHOTO (FR) 7 Mrs J Donnelly Willie Mullins IRE
AMERICAN (FR) 9 The Jago Family Partnership Harry Fry
ANIBALE FLY (FR) 9 J P McManus Tony Martin IRE
BALKO DES FLOS (FR) 8 Gigginstown House Stud Henry de Bromhead IRE
BELLSHILL (IRE) 9 Andrea & Graham Wylie Willie Mullins IRE
BLACK CORTON (FR) 8 The Brooks, Stewart Families & J Kyle Paul Nicholls
BLAKLION 10 S Such & CG Paletta Nigel Twiston-Davies
BRISTOL DE MAI (FR) 8 Simon Munir & Isaac Souede Nigel Twiston-Davies
CLAN DES OBEAUX (FR) 7 Mr & Mrs P Barber, G Mason, Sir A Ferguson Paul Nicholls
CONEYGREE 12 The Max Partnership Mark Bradstock
DEFINITLY RED (IRE) 10 Phil & Julie Martin Brian Ellison
DON POLI (IRE) 10 Gigginstown House Stud Gordon Elliott IRE
DOUBLE SHUFFLE (IRE) 9 Crossed Fingers Partnership Tom George
ELEGANT ESCAPE (IRE) 7 J P Romans Colin Tizzard
FRODON (FR) 7 P J Vogt Paul Nicholls
GIVE ME A COPPER (IRE) 9 Done, Ferguson, Kyle, Mason & Wood Paul Nicholls
INVITATION ONLY (IRE) 8 Andrea & Graham Wylie Willie Mullins IRE
KEMBOY (FR) 7 Supreme Racing/Brett Graham/Ken Sharp Willie Mullins IRE
KILLULTAGH VIC (IRE) 10 Rose Boyd/B Anderson/Mrs M Armstrong Willie Mullins IRE
MALA BEACH (IRE) 11 Chris Jones Gordon Elliott IRE
MIGHT BITE (IRE) 10 The Knot Again Partnership Nicky Henderson
MINELLA ROCCO (IRE) 9 J P McManus Jonjo O'Neill
MISTER WHITAKER (IRE) 7 Tim Radford Mick Channon
MONALEE (IRE) 8 Barry Maloney Henry de Bromhead IRE
MONBEG NOTORIOUS (IRE) 8 Gigginstown House Stud Gordon Elliott IRE
NATIVE RIVER (IRE) 9 Brocade Racing Colin Tizzard
NOBLE ENDEAVOR (IRE) 10 Chris Jones Gordon Elliott IRE
OUTLANDER (IRE) 11 Gigginstown House Stud Gordon Elliott IRE
PRESENTING PERCY 8 Philip Reynolds Patrick Kelly IRE
RATHVINDEN (IRE) 11 Ronnie Bartlett Willie Mullins IRE
ROAD TO RESPECT (IRE) 8 Gigginstown House Stud Noel Meade IRE
SHATTERED LOVE (IRE) 8 Gigginstown House Stud Gordon Elliott IRE
SIZING JOHN 9 Ann & Alan Potts Limited Jessica Harrington IRE
SNOW FALCON (IRE) 9 Patricia Hunt Noel Meade IRE
TERREFORT (FR) 6 Simon Munir & Isaac Souede Nicky Henderson
THE STORYTELLER (IRE) 8 Mrs Pat Sloan Gordon Elliott IRE
THISTLECRACK 11 John and Heather Snook Colin Tizzard
TOTAL RECALL (IRE) 10 Slaneyville Syndicate Willie Mullins IRE
TOUT EST PERMIS (FR) 6 Gigginstown House Stud Noel Meade IRE
VALTOR (FR) 10 Simon Munir & Isaac Souede Nicky Henderson
YALA ENKI (FR) 9 Hills of Ledbury (Aga) Venetia Williams
YORKHILL (IRE) 9 Andrea & Graham Wylie Willie Mullins IRE
43 entries 24 Irish-trained
‘LOTS MORE CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL NEWS IN THE IRISH FIELD NEXT WEEKEND’.