At the time of writing this, the 2012 Cheltenham Gold Cup looks as big as the Grand National with 34 entries already. The latest to join this not-so-exclusive group is Finian’s Rainbow. Currently third in the ante-post betting for the Queen Mother Champion Chase at around 7-1, he has now been given a surprise entry for the Betfred Gold Cup on March 16th.

Following a successful return to action at Kempton last month, the Nicky Henderson-trained chaser has never raced beyond 2m5f. However, he is now one of the entries for the Cheltenham Festival showpiece which promises to feature the highly anticipated clash between previous winners Kauto Star and Long Run.

Other entries include Junior and Mon Mome, who have the John Smith’s Grand National as their primary target, with Junior’s trainer David Pipe also including exciting novice and Feltham winner Grands Crus. Jonjo O’Neill also has high expectations for Welsh Grand National and Lexus Chase winner Synchronised and the Philip Hobbs trained Captain Chris also joins the leaders with reasonably short odds for the Cup.

Finian’s Rainbow does have excellent form and has returned five wins from his six chase starts, with Barry Geraghty as his primary jockey. But he has never won at Cheltenham, never even started at over 3 miles and unless there is some kind of epic catastrophe he doesn’t have the beating of Kauto Star or Long Run.