The late absence of defending champion Balthazar King is a shame for the Glenfarclas Handicap Chase, but this only boosts the chance of a victory for Bostons Angel at 7/1.
On first inspection, 7/2 favourite Arabella Boy is tough to oppose, as he certainly looks the best handicapped based on this season’s form and comes from the yard of Enda Bolger, who has done particularly well in this contest in the past.
He has trained the winner or runner up in seven of the last eight runnings, but course form puts a big negative in the column of Arabella Boy.
Arabella Boy has previously finished well down the field in the National Hunt Chase at the Festival and still had plenty to do when unseating Nina Carberry in the Cross County contest at Cheltenham in December.
Outlaw Pete was the winner on that occasion, but it is the runner up from that race that stands out here.
Bostons Angel may still be waiting for a first Cross Country success, but he only went down by seven lengths to Outlaw Pete, despite conceding 13lb in weight.
It is Bostons Angel receiving weight this time which makes him over a stone better off with Outlaw Pete and six of the last winners of the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase took part in the earlier Cheltenham contest of the same season.
Jessica Harrington’s horse, who is a previous winner of an RSA Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, currently sits third in the betting behind Arabella Boy and Outlaw Pete and this is significant, given that 14 of the last 16 winners were positioned in the top three in the betting.
Furthermore, five of the last eight winners had benefited from a hurdles preparation in the same season and Bostons Angel is one of just two runners to experience this in the current campaign, with the little0fancied Sizing Australia.
Of these at bigger prices, Willie Mullins’ Shakervilz will prefer soft ground more than most and may be able to snatch a place at 16/1.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.