Cheltenham tips: Cross Country Chase antepost bets from Frank Hickey

Frank has got you covered for the Cross Country action

Frank Hickey Shady Operator

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*All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widget, while in-copy odds are accurate at the time of publication but subject to change

Frank Hickey has picked out his best bet for the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase ahead of the 2021 Cheltenham Festival.

The 3m6f contest provides something a little bit different at Prestbury Park each year as the field navigates 32 obstacles in the centre of the racecourse before the traditional run-in.

Tiger Roll and Easysland have dominated in recent seasons but that could all be about to change as neither superstar has had the ideal preparation for this year’s festival.

Cheltenham Festival: Dates, race times and antepost tips from our experts

Speaking on the latest episode of Paddy Power’s From The Horse’s Mouth ‘Countdown to Cheltenham’ podcast, our top tipster Frank assesses the options outside the big two market leaders.

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The Cross Country Chase didn’t catch the imagination of the punting public at the antepost stage and the only losers are Easysland and Tiger Roll, but neither liability is too bad actually.

In the non-runner money back book, Easysland is the only loser here but again the liability is very mild compared to some of our other liabilities that we would be carrying. Perhaps that is because Easysland was such a dominant winner last year and was therefore put in short from the off.

This is a different race to November when it was a handicap and Tiger Roll and Easysland were conceding lumps of weight. EASYSLAND‘s connections are confident of getting the job done here but he was disappointing in November and the yard were quiet about the run – he hasn’t been seen since and there were rumours he was injured. The yard were struggling for winners but had one on Sunday in Auteuil.

I would be concerned that TIGER ROLL is regressing and nowhere near his best. It is two years since he won the Grand National and he has been nowhere near that level since. I would be opposing him off the back of his lifeless runs this season in a flat maiden, the cross country at Cheltenham in November and the run in the Boyne Hurdle.

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POTTERS CORNER is a favourite of mine and I really thought he had a huge chance in last year’s National before the race was lost due to covid. He gave a really nice performance on his debut in this discipline when third here in November but was getting 16lbs of Easysland and was two lengths ahead of him. Two lifeless runs over hurdles since would be slightly worrying, as he won over hurdles prior to winning the Welsh National last season. If he bounces back to his best, he would have a chance but I would have liked to have seen more in his hurdles runs.

LORD DU MESNIL was second here last year in the National Hunt Chase after he had finished second in the Grand National Trial at Haydock. He won that race this year off a 2lb-higher mark than he had last year. However, he would need proper soft ground to be competitive and has no experience of this discipline but would be of interest if he gets his conditions.

Lord Du Mesnil Paul O'Brien Haydock February 20, 2021

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LE BREUIL won the National Hunt Chase in 2019 but was disappointing in last year’s Kim Muir when a 5/1 favourite. He has been running okay this season, finishing third in the Becher off 141 and the Classic Chase at Warwick off 140. He has no experience of the cross country course but a test like this might well suit him.

SHADY OPERATOR is only eight so could still be improving, but he was a horse that promised more than he ever achieved when trained by Joseph O’Brien and was rated in the high 130’s at his best. He swtiched to Enda Bolger this season and shaped okay in two decent handicap chases at Cork and Limerick. He then made his Cross Country debut in the PP Hogan Memorial at Punchestown last month and made a winning debut. He looked a natural that day and this race could well be a weak renewal if Easysland and Tiger Roll are before form – which I think is entirely possible.

*All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widget, while in-copy odds are accurate at the time of publication but subject to change

Frank Hickey’s Cross Country Chase bet summary

Shady Operator (EW)

CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL‘S BIG RACES

March 16 – 13.20 – Supreme Novices’ Hurdle latest odds and tips

March 16 – 13.55 – Arkle Chase latest odds and tips

March 16 – 15.05 – Champion Hurdle latest odds and tips

March 16 – 15.40 – Mares’ Hurdle latest odds and tips

March 17 – 13.20 – Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle latest odds and tips

March 17 – 13.55 – Festival Novices’ Chase latest odds and tips

March 17 – 15.05 – Queen Mother Champion Chase latest odds and tips

March 18 – 13.20 – Marsh Novices’ Chase latest odds and tips

March 18 – 14.30 – Ryanair Chase latest odds and tips

March 18 – 15.05 – Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle latest odds and tips

March 19 – 13.20 – Triumph Hurdle latest odds and tips

March 19 – 14.30 – Albert Bartlett Novices’ Chase latest odds and tips

March 19 – 15.05 – Gold Cup latest odds and tips

March 19 – 16.15 – Mrs Paddy Power Mares’ Chase latest odds and tips

CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL DAY TWO SCHEDULE

13:20 – Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m 5f

13.55 – Festival Novices’ Chase (Grade 1) 3m 80y

14.30 – Coral Cup (Grade 3) 2m 5f

15.05 – Queen Mother Champion Chase (Grade 1) 1m 7f 199y

15.40 – Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase 3m 6f 37y

16.15 – Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Handicap Chase (Grade 3) 2m 62y

16.50 – Weatherbys Champion Bumper (Grade 1) 2m 87y

*Paddy will be all over your telly box throughout the Cheltenham Festival sponsoring ITV’s live coverage from Prestbury Park – and you can get free and exclusive tipping columns EVERY DAY from Ruby Walsh, Matt Chapman and Mick Fitzgerald here on PP News.

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