THE highlight of what has already been a fascinating Cheltenham Festival is the Gold Cup that takes place this afternoon (ITV, 3:30pm).

Sixteen horses are declared to line up and the best odds plus a short summary of each runner’s chance is documented below. Most bookmakers are offering each way terms of 1/5th odds but 4 places.

Al Boum Photo (16/1): Scored an impressive win at Tramore last time out but needs to prove both jumping and stamina. Has a place chance if he does.

Anibale Fly (25/1 - Ladbrokes/Hills): Finished third in the race last year and fourth in the Grand National indicating he is a quality animal but a notch beneath the very best. Outside place possibilities.

Bellshill (10/1): Three wins in his last five starts and appears to be improving gradually. Probably needed the run when beaten comfortably by stablemate Kemboy at Christmas and is not without a chance, but his price is probably a true reflection of his merits.

Bristol de Mai (25/1): Would be a decent betting proposition had the race been held at Haydock, but he has not proved quite as efficient away from that course and this opposition appears too demanding.

Clan des Obeaux (11/2 - Boylesports): Won his last two starts including the King George at Kempton in decent style. Very difficult to leave out of calculations.

Definitly Red (66/1 - Paddy Power): Drubbed by 39 lengths in the race last year and has not shown enough in the intervening period to suggest he will be much closer in what promises to be a tougher renewal.

Double Shuffle (150/1): Nothing in his form to suggest that the layers are wrong to dismiss him with a triple figure price.

Elegant Escape (16/1): Welsh National winner and will not fail through lack of stamina but a few of the others are likely to outclass him in this top-quality contest. Could possibly plug on through beaten horses to claim a top four finish but there are better alternatives.

Invitation Only (33/1): Deserted by Ruby Walsh and although he promises to stay the trip, the ground might have dried up too much for him. Kemboy (11/1 - Paddy Power): An up-and-coming young chaser that has won on his last four starts, last time at Leopardstown very impressively. Ground and trip promise to suit so it boils down to whether the race has come too soon in his development but a double-figure price is tempting.

Might Bite (16/1 - Boylesports): Second last year but two flops this year have led to a palate operation. Claims if he is back to his best but too risky.

Native River (11/2 - Spreadex): Defending champion who has had two decent races this year in his preparation for retaining the crown. This race looks tougher than last year so he will probably have to perform to an even higher standard. Certainly difficult to keep out of the frame but might have to settle for minor honours.

Presenting Percy (4/1): Has won twice before at the Cheltenham festival and enters the biggest stage as a young, improving horse. However, all his recent starts have been on more testing ground than he will get on Friday and there are just enough doubts to see past him at the odds available.

Thistlecrack (16/1): Formerly a top staying hurdler who was pipped by Clan des Obeaux in the King George and has not been out since. Has an each-way chance but one or two slightly higher up the list.

Yala Enki (200/1 - Paddy Power): Has the stamina but not the speed to figure unless the ground is unbelievably testing come post time. Reasonably safe to pass over.

Shattered Love (28/1 - Bet365 - ¼ odds 1,2,3): Thrashed by Kemboy on her most recent run and has yet to venture beyond three miles; too many questions to answer.

Prediction: 1st Kemboy; 2nd Clan des Obeaux; 3rd Native River; 4th Presenting Percy.