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Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase (Class 1)
Run over three miles seven furlongs, the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase is run on the Cross Country course. This course is laid outside the racecourse and features obstacles including the “cheese wedges”, a water jump, a ditch/bank/hedge, timber rails, Aintree style fences and more!
Slowly creeping back down the weights, the likeable Cause Of Causes is our tip for the 2017 Cross Country Chase. A Festival veteran who last year won the Kim Muir Challenge Cup in taking style, he looks likely to be in perfect condition for the Festival.
His Festival accolades of year’s past include second in the 2014 Kim Muir Chase, a win in the National Hunt Chase back in 2015 and he further enhanced his brilliant record on the big stage when winning the Kim Muir impressively last season. Although not at his best on the run up the Cheltenham this year, the same can be said for all his other Cheltenham preparations, never seemingly in form before springing to life when it mattered most. He wasn’t disgraced when fifth in the rescheduled Cross Country in January, never able to be a factor due to some sloppy early jumps and would have likely finished much closer had he been slicker. No ground is a problem for Gordon Elliott’s nine year old and he’ll be in prime condition come March 15th, so has to be respected.
The most unique race of the Festival, the Cross Country Chase always provides us with a cracking race, with many Festival stalwarts returning year after year trying to capture the prize. Our Cross Country Chase preview can be found below, with a tip to come soon!
Though he never seems to be quite in form in the build up to the big race, Cause Of Causes always puts up a big run at the Festival and this year looks to be no different. With two wins and a place in Festival races, he took the 2016 Kim Muir Chase in impressive fashion last season, powering clear after looking beaten going down the side of the course. A horse with stamina in droves but a good turn of foot asked, he is ground versatile and a horse who is always at his peak when the Festival comes around. He wasn’t necessarily disgraced on his preparation run in the rescheduled Cross Country Chase, never able to challenge due to his earlier jumping, but you can be sure Gordon Elliott will have that fixed for the big race. He looks likely to run another cracking race and has to be respected for powerful connections.
Making quite the impression this season, Cantlow is the general 3/1 favourite for the race. Returning this season with a smooth success at Punchestown, he showed he was more than capable of winning a race of this nature when sauntering to victory in the Cross Country Chase in December at Cheltenham. That proved his stamina and his slick jumping throughout indicated that he was well suited to these fences, never looking in any danger throughout that contest. He should only improve with further runs under his belt as Enda Bolger looks to add a sixth win in the race, with no other trainer able to match his dominance of the contest. He was, however, beaten on his next start in the rescheduled Cross Country Chase in January, run down by the strong travelling Urgent De Gregaine, who caused a 50/1 shock that day. He did not necessarily do anything wrong and was simply beaten by a clearly well handicapped sort. However, it did prove that he certainly was not invincible this season. Still a worthy favourite for the contest and cannot be underestimated.
A Grade 2 winner over fences, Alelchi Inois is certainly an interesting proposition for the race. He has not been so good the last two times, struggling to beat a rival in both runs and a step up in trip should be welcomed. Clearly a classy individual and a Grade 1 winner, Willie Mullins’s eight-year-old has run at 3m 1f at his furthest when third in an Italian Grade 1, making multiple mistakes but keeping on well at the finish. He certainly has work to do now though after a very poor performance in the Cross Country Chase in January – when he always behind and tailed off – which does not bode well. He clearly needs much, much more; however he is not ruled out just yet as it was his first attempt. He is a risky proposition, but at 20/1 he is still a viable Each Way chance.
A Festival stalwart and the winner of the race last season before being disqualified for a banned substance, Any Currency is a favourite for many and continues to perform admirably at Cheltenham. Winner of Cross Country chases in the past, he is a dour stayer and wears his heart on his sleeve. Despite losing the Festival race last season, it was still a brilliant effort and a highlight for many from the 2016 Festival. Now at the age of 14, he has not been performing so well this season and performed poorly on both of his runs at Cheltenham. However, when back over cross country fences he was third in the rescheduled Cross Country Chase in January, well beaten but keeping on. Considering how well he performs at Cheltenham overall, it is impossible to rule out Martin Keighley’s plucky old timer, and 12/1 is a good each way price for last year’s first past the post winner.
Another who does well in these races is Bless The Wings, who finished second in the race last season when narrowly being denied by Josie’s Orders who ran him down late (discounting the running of Any Currency). Continuing to run admirably since then – including a close second in the Irish Grand National and second in the Cross Country Chase won by Cantlow at Cheltenham – he has shown that the passion is still there. Highly tried this season, he has already run four times (all in a one month period) so it is possible to forgive his poor effort at Leopardstown on his latest start. He has another run scheduled in the Betfred Classic at Warwick to continue his packed season and, despite the schedule, he is likely to run a big race again at the Festival with his stamina assured. There is no doubt that he is hard to win with, but he should be a good each way price and could be worth a bet for Gordon Elliott who continues to have a fine season.
This will be the sixteenth time around Cheltenham for Quantitativeeasing, who was second in the 2014 renewal and very unlucky not to have been involved again when carried out in 2015, when poised to challenge and travelling well. He ran another impressive race in 2016 to finish third behind Josie’s Orders. It is also interesting to note that he went to Punchestown a month later to beat the current ante-post favourite Cantlow, which was a sterling effort. Returning this season, the trip at Galway was certainly far too short for him and he can be excused the effort. Once upped to a more suitable trip we should get a better gauge of where his ability lies this season. With a record such as his in the race, it would be disappointing not to see him involved as he clearly loves Cheltenham and its test of stamina as he is always staying on well towards the finish. A best priced 12/1 could disappear rapidly if he were to win a preparation run before the Festival.
Along with our Cross Country Chase preview and tip, we have all our other Cheltenham Festival tips and previews online to view now!