Cheese wedges may well sound like an essential part of any picnic for racegoers at Prestbury Park, but the ones we are interested in certainly don’t go well with crackers.
The Cross Country Chase on the second day of the Cheltenham Festival poses a unique test for horses, with twists, turns and even a Grand National style fence thrown in there for good measure.
But finding the winner of the 3m7f handicap doesn’t need to be as much of a test on bettors as it is on the equine participants, especially with the help of the Ladbrokes Lowdown…
With plenty of trends and stats, we can narrow down the field quite considerably.
First up, it is clear you need a horse with previous experience over cross country fences.
Narrowing down our shortlist we bid farewell to nine debutants in this sphere, including a winner on Cheltenham’s old course Charingworth and Willie Mullins’ Dogora.
We’re left with 10 challengers, but one that goes no further is Nuage D’Airay. The French raider is the only remaining horse in our reckoning younger than eight, and with 83 of the 85 horses seven or younger to compete failing, we bid farewell.
The Brits may have claimed the last five races over this Cheltenham course, but it’s a whole new ball game at the Festival.
Eight of the last nine renewals of this particular race has headed back across the Irish Sea.
We are therefore going to focus on those coming from the Emerald Isle, ignoring the likes of favourite Any Currency, Duke of Lucca and intriguing Gallic challenger Toutancarmont.
So with a quartet of Irish challengers left, for four different handlers where do we turn?
Well it’s obvious when discovering that the most celebrated trainer and winningmost jockey in the race are joining forces.
Nina Carberry is set to ride QUATNTITATIVEEASING for Enda Bolger, a trainer who has saddled the winner or runner-up in seven of the last ten runnings of the race.
Carberry herself is the most successful jockey in the contest, tasting victory three times already.
But what about the horse?
The 10-year-old ran no sort of race last year when well beaten, but bounced back over course and distance when finishing second to Any Currency off level weights (he gets 9lbs this time round).
That race has thrown up six of the last 10 winners in the Festival contest, so the signs are good.
It certainly looks an open contest, but the JP McManus-owned horse has plenty in his favour, ticks all the boxes and can make the most of the absence of defending champ Balthazar King.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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