SOME people aren’t fans of Cheltenham’s Cross Country races, but I love them as they provide a completely different experience and they’re always good betting heats.
This afternoon’s £35,000 Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Chase (3.05pm) is the concluding leg of the Crystal Cup European Cross Country Challenge.
The 10-race series takes in many of Europe’s premier racecourses, over unique combinations of hedges, banks, ditches and timber.
It began in Pau in February and has since taken in another four races in France, as well as visits to Poland, Belgium, Italy and the Velka Pardubika in the Czech Republic.
Unfortunately, Tiger Roll hasn’t been declared, but he’ll be back in March and this still looks an interesting and open contest.
Gordon Elliott relies on last year’s winner Bless The Wings and you can never rule out the evergreen 13- year-old.
However, he has to carry 11st 12lbs and it’s going to be difficult for him to concede bundles of weight to some progressive types.
Josies Orders won this race three years ago for banks king Enda Bolger and he was also successful over course and distance last month.
Mark Walsh keeps the ride and all looks set for a big run, but at the prices I’m keen on the apparent second string MY HOMETOWN.
Although comfortably beaten in the end, he ran well in this race 12 months ago when only a seven-year-old.
He absolutely bolted up in the Risk Of Thunder Chase at Punchestown on good-to-firm ground, so he’ll have no problem with the sound surface this afternoon.
Off just 10st1lb he could be very hard to peg back from the front and he looks a good each-way bet at 7/1 with Betfair.
French horses have done well in these races and both Amazing Comedy and Vol Noir De Kerser are respected from the foot of the weights.
The former ran well at the Festival in 2017 and was an impressive winner at Compiegne last month with Vol Noir De Kerser back in fourth.
Jamie Snowdon’s Fact Of The Matter was only just reeled in by Josies Orders and he is another who has a chance in a wide open renewal.
Rock The Kasbah won well at the November meeting and he’s back for more in the 3m2f handicap chase (2.30pm).
Richard Johnson will surely try to give him another power-packed ride from the front on ground that he will love.
The worry is if the handicapper has caught up with him, while he also has to concede 24lbs to THEATRE TERRITORY which could be a bridge too far.
Warren Greatrex’s mare only has one career win to her name, but she had some excellent form last season and was a fine second behind Ibis Du Rheu here last month on her reappearance.
She was second to future Festival winner Mister Whitaker on Trials Day, before finishing third in the Betdaq Handicap Chase at Kempton and then third again in the Topham at Aintree.
She really deserves to get her head in front and I’m convinced the step up to 3m2f will suit her down to the ground, so take the 10/3 with Coral.
Theatre Territory 2.30pm Cheltenham
My Hometown e/w 3.05pm Cheltenham