Cue Card can earn a £1m bonus with victory in Friday’s Cheltenham Gold Cup after wins in the Betfair Chase and King George VI Chase.
Trained by Colin Tizzard and ridden by Paddy Brennan, Cue Card is likely to be challenged by the likes of Don Cossack, Don Poli, Smad Place and Djakadam.
“He has been good all season and he is still brilliant now – he looks like a staying chaser,” said Tizzard.
Victoria Pendleton rides Pacha Du Polder in the Foxhunter Chase.
The race goes off at 16:10 GMT, following the Gold Cup at 15:30, and the Olympic cycling champion’s presence straight after the blue riband contest is expected to attract a record-breaking hour of betting.
Cue Card ‘the horse of a lifetime’
Trainer Willie Mullins has dominated National Hunt racing in recent seasons and has two going in the Gold Cup.
Last year’s runner-up, Djakadam, returns after a fall in January that required stitches.
“I must compliment the vet in Cheltenham for the work on Djakadam’s stitches,” said Mullins.
Mullins also saddles Don Poli, but jockey Bryan Cooper has switched this year and rides the Gordon Elliott-trained Don Cossack.
“He’s a good-looking horse that does everything well,” said Elliott.
With defending champion Coneygree absent because of injury, dairy farmer Tizzard remains confident that Cue Card is capable of completing the big race hat-trick.
That would bring with it the £1m bonus put up by the Jockey Club to any horse that wins with all three Grade One prizes.
“He is absolutely brilliant at the moment and is the horse of a lifetime,” added Tizzard. “If I could win the Gold Cup, it would be the pinnacle of training – it would last forever.
“The money is fantastic and a lovely idea for the stable staff, the owners and everybody else.”
Pendleton ‘aware of the risks’
The double track cycling gold medallist goes in the amateur riders’ Gold Cup less than a year after sitting on a horse for the first time, and with limited ambitions.
“If I get round on the horse and complete the course I feel like it will be a gold medal,” said Pendleton.
“Olympic medals are like a dream, you don’t even believe they are truly possible.”
The 35-year-old, backed by trainers Lawney and Alan Hill, Paul Nicholls, Sir Anthony McCoy and equestrian expert Yogi Breisner, began competing in Flat races last summer.
She then progressed to point-to-points during the winter but only had her first mount in a hunter chase a month ago, and was unseated from Pacha Du Polder.
However, Pendleton then guided the Nicholls-trained 11-year-old to victory at Wincanton and chose to take on the Foxhunter Chase.
“I appreciate it was not a decision that should be taken lightly as National Hunt racing is an extremely dangerous sport where there are lots of risks involved, but I feel that I’m capable of being part of that race,” she said.