Search
where the horse is always the hero
Article Item
Posted 2021-02-01 08:33:28  
Is the Cheltenham Festival Cross Country Chase a Two-Horse Race Again in 2021?

The Glenfarclas sponsored Cross Country Chase was essentially a match last year between an old Irish favourite and Cheltenham Festival veteran in Tiger Roll, and Easysland – a relative newcomer to the home of British National Hunt horse racing from France.

Victory went to the young pretender as David Cottin’s upwardly mobile horse shot clear of the previous dual race winner for an emphatic success. Easysland had run at Cheltenham before, but his first visit to Prestbury Park wasn’t in the colours of leading Irish owner JP McManus that he carried to victory at the Festival.

Across the Channel, there is a Cross Country racing scene at Compiegne and particularly Pau where Cottin will be preparing his horse for the defence of his crown. Easysland, still a steeplechasing spring chicken aged seven, again heads the betting and most Cross Country Chase tips and predictionsThe theory is he should still be getting better. In practice, main market rival Tiger Roll is 11 years old and, while age is no barrier to success in a race that has had three different past winners delivering at 12, trends suggest moving away from elder horses. Nobody can even take away the historic achievements made by Gordon Elliott’s plucky veteran. Tiger Roll is of course the only multiple winner of the world’s most famous steeplechase, the Grand National at Aintree, since Red Rum in the 1970s.

If not Easysland or the Tiger, then who? Based on their last runs in a handicap over the Cheltenham Cross Country course and distance, neither fired. Tiger Roll was pulled up, while conceding lumps of weight to lesser horses on ratings seemed to rob his French conqueror of fluent jumping and he only came fourth.

Easysland will meet those who got the better of him in the autumn on a level playing field at the Festival, and that is the key. Abundant stamina is key, so 2019 Welsh Grand National winner Potters Corner could also have a hand in proceedings.

He put in a clear round of jumping on his Cross Country debut when finishing in front of Easysland in the handicap race at Cheltenham in November. Welsh trainer Christian Williams wanted a tender introduction and him to complete the course, and he will only benefit from that experience.

There was another Cross Country handicap run at the course in December which Some Neck just got up to win when staying on strongly for amateur jockey Ben Harvey. John McConnell has started taking more of his horses over from Ireland, but further progress is needed from this former member of the Willie Mullins stable to trouble the big two.

Official ratings suggest this is a two-horse race again, and those figures are important because it takes place off level weights. Cheltenham races don’t always go to form, however, even in a discipline like Cross Country, so something coming out of the pack and springing a surprise cannot be ruled out here in 2021.

 

Rate:
Email link to a friend | Printable Version
  • Britain
    Displaying 10 ResultsSee All
    appleby strongly represented in the 2000 guineas stakes but major threats come from o'brien, both father and son2021-04-29

    One of the most wide-open renewals of the G1 2000 Guineas Stakes (1600m) in recent times tops the ei...

    View | Add Comment
    jockey lorna brooke passes away after fall 2021-04-19

    Lorna Brooke has died following a heavy fall at Taunton this month, the Injured Jockeys Fund (IJF) h...

    View | Add Comment
    amateur jockey lorna brooke placed in induced coma following taunton fall2021-04-17

    Amateur jockey Lorna Brooke has been placed in an induced coma and is in a "critical, but stabl...

    View | Add Comment
    rachael blackmore makes history on 11-1 minella times in 2021 grand national2021-04-10

    Rachael Blackmore created history on Saturday, becoming the first woman jockey to ride the winner of...

    View | Add Comment
    trainer releases statement after graphic picture surfaces 2021-03-01

    A major controversy has erupted in horseracing as a picture circulating of a trainer sitting on the ...

    View | Add Comment
    oisin murphy considered quitting2021-02-25

    Oisin Murphy admitted he thought about quitting racing altogether while serving a drugs ban. The ch...

    View | Add Comment
    legendary owner, breeder dies 2021-01-12

    Owner and breeder Khalid Abdullah, in whose green, white and pink silks the likes of Frankel, Dancin...

    View | Add Comment
    spectators to return to uk races on wednesday 2020-11-26

    Spectators will be able to return to the racecourse when the national lockdown in England ends on We...

    View | Add Comment
    darley fees announced2020-11-12

    Darley’s 2021 roster features Europe’s best juvenile for 25 years, the best racehorse in...

    View | Add Comment
    pinatubo retires2020-10-13

    Following discussions of the key horses at Godolphin’s Moulton Paddocks this week, the decisio...

    View | Add Comment