Cross County Chase: 3m 6f, Wednesday, March 16, 4:10pm
Key Stat: Nine of the 11 contests have been won by Irish trainers
This conditions contest should certainly favour the classier horses who no longer have to give lumps of weight away. So don’t be surprised if a name or two with a lofty rating tries their luck in the ‘banks’ race. However, last year’s winner, Rivage D’Or, became the only second horse to win this race on its ‘banks’ debut in the last 34 races run over this course.
Nine of the 11 contests have been exported to Ireland with Balthazar King winning the other two. Philip Hobbs intends running his popular four-time cross-country course winner here on his seasonal debut in search of a third Festival success.
Standing in his way, however, will be Enda Bolger who has won 17 of the 47 races (36 per cent) that this cross-country course has staged. His Quantitativeeasing was travelling like a winner in last year’s race until he was carried out and is likely to return alongside Josies Orders who has won both cross-country races staged at Cheltenham this season under Nina Carberry.
The most important aspect about Josies Orders is that he only turned eight on New Year’s Day. However, Wonderkid and Sire Collonges are the only two winners under eight from 88 contenders in 44 contests to win.
Six of the last 11 winners contested the cross-country handicap over these fences back in December (Josies Orders) and the best Irish guide has been the P.P. Hogan Memorial Chase which has thrown up four winners and four runners-up and was won by Ballyboker Bridge, this year and who was third in the conditions race here in December.
Any Currency, runner-up at the Festival for the last two years, disappointed that day but a problem was subsequently found.