It may only be mid-November, but those attending tomorrow’s instalment of Cheltenham Racecourse’s three-day November meeting are in for an early Christmas treat. The 2018 Grand National winner Tiger Roll lines up for the Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Chase.
The Gordon Elliott trained 8-year-old, runs in the famous Maroon and white-star silks of Gigginstown House Stud-owned by Ryanair boss – Michael O’Leary, heads a field of seven as he attempts to follow up his course and distance win here during March’s Festival and warrants his short-price favouritism.
A very good morning to the @gelliott_racing team this morning!
— CheltenhamRacecourse (@CheltenhamRaces) November 15, 2018
However, he will have to concede a considerable amount of weight to his rivals, including 7lb to stablemate Bless The Wings – who has also shown consistent form – winning over course and distance in December last year. You’d perhaps think that at the grand old age of 13, this might be a step too far, but following an impressive resurgence at the Irish equivalent to The Festival back in April, it seems age is just a number to this horse. Top amateur jockey, Mr J J Codd, booked to ride and the step back in trip from his last start should suit.
In a race often dominated by the Irish, the main danger to Elliott’s double-pronged attack will be Enda Bolger’s, Josies Orders, who runs in the gold and green hoops of owner JP McManus. Bolger is widely regarded as the master trainer of long-distance chasing and with more than a stone in hand over the favourite plus form figures at the track which read 11136, the 10-year old has to be respected, particularly on form shown in Punchestown, where he finished 21 ½ lengths clear of Bless The Wings, although that race was over an extra ½ mile.
Although the cross country is arguably the best spectacle of the day, there is also competitive graded action, in the form of Grade 2 Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle. Pym, for the leading British stable of Nicky Henderson, steps up in trip following defeat at Ascot last time and is likely the one to beat. However, local trainer Fergal O’Brien saddles Coolanly – who fell early in Grade 2 company last time – but is obviously held in high regard by the stable, who opted for Graded company once again here.
Others with obvious appeal here are Darlac, for the in-form stable of Colin Tizzard, who cruised to victory at Fontwell on Hurdle debut under the champion jockey – Richard Johnson – who takes the ride again. Jamie Snowden’s Double Treasure won two Novice events over the Summer, before finishing runner-up in the same class company, and certainly enters calculations.
Others to note throughout the day are Henderson’s Mr Whipped – who runs in the 2.25. He has won in Graded company over hurdles last season and trainer believes he will be even better over the bigger obstacles. Tizzard’s horses are flying and it would be hard to rule out Shanahan’s Turn in the 1.50. Should come on for reappearance third and although there are questions over the shorter trip, the yard must have belief it will be suitable.
The November meeting is held at Cheltenham Racecourse on Friday 16th and Saturday 17th.