Cross Country Chase Tips - 3:40pm Cheltenham

The Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase is open to horses aged five or older and is run over a distance of three miles and six furlongs. There are thirty-two obstacles to navigate around, each one presenting a new challenge to the horses that attempt them. In running, the horses meet obstacles like no other including cheese wedges, railed hedges, several types of ditches, banks and jumps. It is run on a figure of eight style course and all runners try to circumnavigate three completed laps. Horses can qualify for the race by placing in preparation races run at Punchestown, Pau or any of the three races run at this track in November, December or March.

Statistics prove that the Irish have dominated in this sphere in recent years as they have taken seven of the last ten renewals. Only one six-year-old has won this race in the last decade and only two favourites have won the race within the same time-frame. Last year saw an epic duel ensue between Easysland and two-time winner Tiger Roll. It was the younger French challenger who ultimately prevailed striding away to a seventeen length success at he stayed on strongly to the line.

Easysland has been favourite for this race ever since he annihilated the opposition in it last year. The Daniel Cottin trained seven-year-old made his seasonal reappearance over the course and distance back in November where he seemingly fluffed his lines as an odds-on favourite when only finishing fourth to Kingswell Theatre. In fairness he was returning from a six month break and may well have needed that run. It certainly didn’t help that he clouted a few of the obstacles on the way round resulting in him losing valuable ground on his faster paced rivals. The fact that he hasn’t been seen since has to be of concern to his ante-post supporters. As the reigning champion he commands respect, but there may well be better value elsewhere in the market.

Tiger Roll could well be having his swansong in this race as the curtain draws his remarkable career. The two-time previous winner and two-time Grand National winner has had this race as his main target all season according to his owner Michael O’Leary. He made his seasonal reappearance in a flat race at Navan back in October over a highly inadequate one mile and six furlongs. That was to be a prep race for the Cross Country at Cheltenham the following month. Unfortunately for his supporters he sweated up before the race and failed to jump with his usual fluency. It was clear he was not on a going day and he was pulled up. He has been in much better form prior to his previous two wins here so this was hardly ideal preparation. As a former champion he does require require respect but you would have to imagine that something younger would be able to be too speedy for him. Either way it is difficult to see him reversing last years’ form with Easysland.

Potters Corner was a good third in the cross country race here back in November despite being beaten seven lengths by Kingswell Theatre. He was held up to deliver a late challenge but just couldn’t quite manage it. He may well have needed the run though and although only seventh on his next start at Warwick, he ran as well as could be expected against much less exposed and younger rivals. This will be far more to his liking and the extra five furlongs here will allow him to get into the race on his own terms. He has strong each way claims again.

Shady Operator represents Enda Bolger in the race and he has to be the most likely danger to Easysland. The trainer has enjoyed much success in this particular race throughout the years with the likes of Garde Champetre, Josies Orders, Headsontheground and Spotthedifference. It was no surprise to see him win on his Cross Country debut for the yard at Punchestown last month and this former Joseph O'Brien inmate could well serve it up to the likely favourite.

Lord Du Mesnil found his form when winning a Grade Three at Haydock last month. He was a solid second in the National Hunt Novices' Chase last year over a similar trip, but this type of race he will either love or loathe. It will present a unique challenge to him and he may be best watched on this occasion despite his obviuos raw ability.

Blako Des Flos has been beaten out of sight in his two most recent starts so no surprise to see Henry De Bromhead opt for a change to his game. Like Lord Du Mesnil, he will be making his debut in this type of race and similar comments have to be applied. This is not a place to come for being so inexperienced in this sphere and he may have better days ahead in this sphere.

Given everything that has been on display so far this year it is hard to sway away from Easysland. Whilst he was disappointing here at the end of last year, Daniel Cottin is sure to have left himself with plenty to work on in order for him to come back and try to retain his crown. As a seven-year-old he will have the legs of plenty of his older rivals and he looks the most solid performer in the line-up.

Punters Lounge Tip: Easysland @ 2/1 at bet365 - Click Here To Bet
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