Impressive when successful 12 months ago, Denman was disappointing on his belated reappearance at Kempton five weeks ago when well held behind the improving Madison Du Berlais and it is difficult to see him retaining his crown following that effort and a safer bet looks to be stable companion KAUTO STAR. Himself impressive when winning here two years ago, the Clive Smith-owned gelding looked beaten when unseating Sam Thomas at Haydock in November but was back to his best in the King George subsequently and he is taken to reclaim the crown that he won in 2007. Kauto Star's trainer Paul Nicholls has a strong hand in the Gold Cup being responsible for not just the last two winners of the race but also My Will and Star De Mohaison plus last season's third Neptune Collonges, who is the pick of this trio and comes here on the back of success in Leopardstown's Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup. Jonjo O'Neill's Exotic Dancer is capable but has been held by Kauto Star on too many occasions to be considered likely to beat the selection and of more interest may be the progressive Barbers Shop. Nicky Henderson's gelding would be a popular winner and good for the sport being owned by The Queen. The seven-year-old found just Finger Onthe Pulse too good in the Jewson last year but he has carried on improving this term and has to be respected given his trainers fine record at the meeting. Charlie Mann's Air Force One deserves to win a big prize but he may find this trip in this company beyond him, while Jonjo O'Neill's Albertas Run has a bit to find with the selection on their running in the King George but may do better over this more testing track. Madison Du Berlais is improving rapidly and has to be considered but there are doubts concerning the form of his Kempton victory and a safer bet looks to be Kauto Star, who can claim his second Gold Cup.
Air Force One (GER) 8-1 (11-10) Never travelling, and soon pushed along towards rear, struggling when hit 10th, tailed off, 5th of 10, 40l behind Kauto Star (11-10) at Kempton 3m chs Grd 1 (1) gd in Dec.
Albertas Run (IRE) 4-1 (11-5) Held up in 5th, went moderate 3rd 11th, hit 13th, no chance after, 3rd of 7, 48l behind Madison Du Berlais (11-6) at Kempton 3m chs Grd 2 (1) gs in Feb.
Barbers Shop 6-4fav (11-5) Chased leader, left 2nd at 18th, led going well 2 out, in command before last, stayed on strongly, won at Sandown 3m lst chs (1) gs in Dec beating Abbeybraney (10-9) by 4l, 5 ran.
Cerium (FR) 2-1fav (11-5) Mid-division when stopped very quickly and pulled up in race won by Chabrimal Minster (10-13) at Chepstow 3m clm chs (3) gd in Apr, 9 ran.
Denman (IRE) 8-11fav (11-10) Tracked leaders, went 2nd before 3rd, slight lead from 6th until 9th, chased winner after, shaken up and no response after 3 out and no chance after, 2nd of 7, 23l behind Madison Du Berlais (11-6) at Kempton 3m chs Grd 2 (1) gs in Feb.
Exotic Dancer (FR) 4-1 (11-10) Held up in rear, headway to 6th 8 out, 4th next, improved to 2nd approaching 2 out, left in lead, ridden clear from before last, kept on strongly, won at Leopardstown 3m chs Grd 1 sft in Dec beating War Of Attrition (11-10) by 20l, 9 ran.
Halcon Genelardais (FR) 5-2fav (11-0) Reminders to chase leaders after 1st, driven after 11th, led soon after 2 out, hard ridden and headed flat, no extra, 2nd of 8, 3l behind Joe Lively (11-6) at Cheltenham 3m 1f chs Grd 2 (1) hvy in Jan.
Kauto Star (FR) 10-11fav (11-10) Held up behind leaders, tracked leader going well 14th, led well before 3 out, drew well clear from next, well in command when went left and hit last, easily, won at Kempton 3m chs Grd 1 (1) gd in Dec beating Albertas Run (11-10) by.
Knowhere (IRE) 16-1 (11-12) Mid-division, ridden after 6th, weakened 4 out, 8th of 15, 34l behind Madison Du Berlais (11-4) at Newbury 3m 2f hcp chs Grd 3 (1) gs in Nov.
Madison Du Berlais (FR) 12-1 (11-6) Led until after 2nd, chased leader until before 3rd, stayed prominent, narrow lead 9th, made rest, driven and in command before 3 out and stayed on strongly, won at Kempton 3m chs Grd 2 (1) gs in Feb beating Denman (11-10) by 23l, 7 ran.
Miko de Beauchene (FR) 22-1 (11-12) Chased leaders, ridden approaching 4 out, one pace approaching last, 3rd of 16, 4l behind Rambling Minster (11-0) at Haydock 3m 4f hcp chs Grd 3 (1) hvy in Feb.
My Will (FR) 33-1 (11-3) Held up in rear, headway approaching 17th, chased leaders approaching 2 out, left disputing 3rd last, no extra and lost 2 places towards finish, 5th of 15, 13l behind Madison Du Berlais (11-4) at Newbury 3m 2f hcp chs Grd 3 (1) gs in Nov.
Neptune Collonges (FR) 8-13fav (11-10) Tracked leader in 2nd, improved to lead before 3 out, ridden and kept on well from before last, won at Leopardstown 3m chs Grd 1 hvy in Feb beating Notre Pere (11-10) by 5l, 6 ran.
Roll Along (IRE) 12-1 (11-4) Close up until weakened 17th, behind when virtually fell 2 out and pulled up at the last in race won by Joe Lively (11-6) at Cheltenham 3m 1f chs Grd 2 (1) hvy in Jan, 8 ran.
Snoopy Loopy (IRE) 20-1 (11-10) Tracked leaders, ridden after 15th, weakened 17th, tailed off and pulled up 2 out in race won by Joe Lively (11-6) at Cheltenham 3m 1f chs Grd 2 (1) hvy in Jan, 8 ran.
Star De Mohaison (FR) 7-2 (11-0) Held up, smooth headway after 17th, ridden and every chance 2 out, weakened quickly, finished very tired, 4th of 8, 38l behind Joe Lively (11-6) at Cheltenham 3m 1f chs Grd 2 (1) hvy in Jan.