Cheltenham tips: Your best bets for the Cross Country Chase from our top pundits

Do we have a full house backing Tiger Roll in what could be his final appearance?

From the Horses Mouth Cheltenham Countdown

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The Cheltenham Festival is just a fortnight away, and our antepost tipping podcast series continues to rattle through the renewals as Paddy’s pundits bring you their early fancies for the meeting.

The From The Horse’s Mouth team take an in-depth look at the Cross Country Chase in this week’s episode, with legendary jockey Ruby Walsh, Paddy’s trader Frank Hickey and tipster Rory Delargy giving their thoughts.

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Ruby Walsh:

“Tiger Roll’s trying to win at the Cheltenham Festival for a sixth time and he’s already won three Cross Country Chases.

“If you read into his form you can see a definite trend. He was last of six in the Boyne Hurdle this time last year. He was travelling quite well on the outside going to the third last but made a slight mistake and then cut out going to the last. It was a similar story for Tiger Roll’s last run in a handicap hurdle at Navan. He made all his ground out of the back straight before the third last, you thought he’s going to get involved but lo and behold he didn’t. I would think his run over hurdles in 2022 isn’t too dissimilar to his run over hurdles in 2021.

“If you remember, he went to Cheltenham last year and beat Easysland by 18 lengths. He’s a hard horse to oppose. Tiger Roll will go out in a blaze of glory and I don’t think anyone will begrudge him that!

“Prengarde was disappointing at Naas on Sunday. He’ll definitely improve for the run but looking at him you’d assume Cheltenham is coming too soon.

“Auteuil is not dissimilar to Cheltenham’s cross country course and Ajas’ French form is fairy solid so he could be of interest.”

Rory Delargy:

“When Easysland won the Cross Country in 2020, he’d previously landed a Listed cross country chase at Compiegne – the same race Prengarde won this season at the same age, carrying more weight and winning slightly easier. They’re smilier types.

“Easysland was young, enthusiastic and bold with his jumping when he won this. Whether he’s the same force now, I don’t know. We haven’t seen a lot of him since people talked about him as a potential Gold Cup winner after his Cross Country success in 2020.

“He ran perfectly well when second in it last year but he was disappointing in a handicap earlier in that season. He’s changed stables since leaving David Cottin and has had a couple of runs over hurdles for Jonjo O’Neill. I have no idea where we stand with him. It’s a strange move because Jonjo doesn’t concentrate on cross country horses. We’re in no man’s land. I thought he might have shown a bit more at Ascot last time on heavy ground.

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“Prengarde ran his best ever race on his last start in November and he’s now had to have a fresh start off the back of that. The suggestion was he’d be very unfit at Naas last Sunday and I think it’s too much of a rush getting him to Cheltenham. You’d also be concerned that he’s had a complete change of regime after moving to Enda Bolger’s yard.

“I’ll side with Tiger Roll as there are significant negatives over the others. I hope he wins by 40 lengths!”

Frank Hickey:

“Delta Work isn’t up to Grade 1 chases anymore but he’s still rated in the high 150s. If he takes to the discipline he’ll be a player but it’s a big ask first time out.

“Tiger Roll’s the most likely winner but his price could shorten up further depending on Delta Work. I’d be against Easysland as he’s lost his way a bit and I’m not sure Prengard will run.

“Mortal, Freewheelin’ Dylan and Shady Operator would interest me each-way.

“Mortal caught the eye here in December, travelling well and he was bang there jumping the last before weakening up the hill. At his peak he was rated in the low 150s over fences so he has a bit of class.

“Freewheelin’ Dylan was going alright at his first try over the fences at the November Meeting before unseating at the Aintree fence. He won last year’s Irish National so stamina’s no issue. He’s rated at 146 so that would bring him into it.

“Shady Operator flattered to deceive over fences but the switch to Enda Bolger has reinvigorated him. He won on his banks debut before winning the Killarney National. He beat Midnight Maestro in the Risk Of Thunder last November.”

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