All you need to know about the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase at Cheltenham Racecourse at the Cheltenham Fstival on March 13.
When and where can I watch the Cross Country Chase? 4.10pm Cheltenham, March 13. Live on Racing TV.
Which Grade is it? Conditions event. Which course is the Cross Country Chase staged on? Cross Country Course
What distance is it run over? 3m 6f (32 obstacles). What prize-money does it carry? £65,000
What age restrictions? 5yo+. Weights & Allowances: Geldings 11st 4lb, mares allowance 7lb.
Who sponsors the contest? Glenfarclas
Key Statistics and Trends:
Irish hold sway:
Twelve of the 14 runnings have been won by Irish-trained horses. Philip Hobbs is the only British trainer to have won the race. Enda Bolger is the dominant trainer, winning the race five times.
Eight of the last 11 winners had been placed previously over the cross-country course at Cheltenham. Tiger Roll was an exception last year, having previously only been fifth there.
Horses aged 8-10 years old have dominated the race in recent years. The only winner since 2006 outside that range was 2010 winner A New Story (12yo).
The P.P Hogan Memorial Cross Country Chase in Ireland has produced four winners and four runners-up.
Only three horses have defied a double-figure price in the race’s 13-year history. Rivage D’Or (16-1), Big Shu (14-1), A New Story (25-1) are the only horses to go off bigger than 13-2 and win the race.
Key stat: None of the last seven winners ran in the previous year’s race.
The Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Chase was introduced at the Festival in 2005 and was initially run as a handicap until switching to a conditions race in 2016. It is one of three races scheduled over the unique cross country course at Cheltenham during the season and follows on from the Glenfarclas-sponsored events at the November Meeting and at The International in December.
In the 2004/05 season, all three races were won by Spot Thedifference. Trainer Enda Bolger and owner J P McManus boast a formidable record in the race, having dominated the early runnings with four winners – Spot Thedifference (2005), Heads Onthe Ground (2007) and Garde Champetre (2008/2009).
Runners over three miles and six furlongs have to negotiate 32 obstacles, including banks, ditches and hedges. The most recent obstacles to be introduced were ‘the cheese wedges’ (fences 15/16), which were first used at the November Meeting in 2009.
Silver Birch was runner-up in 2007 before going on to win the Grand National at Aintree the following month. Tiger Roll won last year before following up in the National.
Last five winners and cloising stages:
2018 Tiger Roll
A third Festival triumph for Tiger Roll - all in different races and some typically vivid images from Michael O'Leary, his owner (Gigginstown), afterwards.
He said: "This is a family pet now. He loved it. He hates everywhere else, but he loves Cheltenham. I wish I had a few more like him. He's a little rat of a thing, but he's the heart of a lion."
His jockey Keith Donoghue had taken time out of the saddle with weight problems, and was savouring his first Festival winner aboard the 7-1 chance.
Donoghue said: "That was brilliant. He jumped brilliant the whole way and travelled well. I thought he would win, my only worry was the ground. He comes alive round here - he loves it.
"If it wasn't for Gordon I wouldn't be standing here as I struggle with my weight."
Tiger Roll followed up in the Grand National the following month. Not bad for a "little rat of a thing".
2017 - Cause Of Causes
Cause Of Causes has become a standing dish at the Cheltenham Festival and his nine-length romp in the Cross Country Chase completed a hat-trick of victories, having landed the Kim Muir in 2016 and National Hunt Chase the season before.
He has become a real star for trainer Gordon Elliott, who was understandably full of praise for his star.
“He is a brilliant horse and I am so lucky to have him,” he said, after his emphatic success under the talented amateur Jamie Codd last March.
2016 - Josies Orders
The 2016 running of the Cross Country Chase was ‘won’ by Any Currency but he was later disqualified after a banned substance was found in a blood sample.
That meant Josies Orders was awarded the race, although that won’t have helped the many punters who backed him into 15-8 favouritism on the day but wouldn’t have been paid out.
Enda Bolger’s eight-year-old completed a clean sweep of the three races run over the cross country course at Prestbury Park that season and also provided Nina Carberry with a fourth win in the race.
2015 - Rivage D’Or
Rivage D’Or was tackling the unique cross country course for the very first time when he lined up in 2015 (the last time the race was run as a handicap) but you would never have guessed that as he hacked away under a confident Davy Russell ride.
In front at the last, he only needed riding out to easily assert from Any Currency, with Irish runners filling three of the first four places. Rivage D’Or hadn’t been seen under Rules at all that season, indeed he hadn’t raced at all since being pulled up in a Devon point in November (when trained by Kayley Woollacott) so it was some effort by new trainer Tony Martin to get him to the Festival in such good shape.
2014 - Balthazar King[(full)Watch Replay](
The 2014 renewal was a strong one, with the last three winners all back for more, so it would have taken a huge effort for Balthazar’s King to defy top weight and win the race for the second time.
He was blessed with the most admirable of attitudes and, under a strong drive from Richard Johnson, he found plenty to repel Any Currency despite conceding 18lb to that rival.
Johnson was thrilled with the attitude of his mount, saying: “He's just amazing. I thought today it would be very difficult for him with top weight. He never stops trying. He's a real front-runner so I tried to save a little bit, but he just wants to win.”
2013 - Big Shu
Irish runners dominated the race in 2013, filling seven of the first eight places, but Big Shu was in no danger from the second-last, having poached a healthy lead under Barry Cash, and he stayed on nicely to score by four lengths.
Just an eight-year-old at the time, it looked at that point like he could dominate the cross country scene for small trainer Peter Maher in the years to come.
He followed up in the La Touche Cup at Punchestown but disaster struck at the 2014 December meeting when he was fatally injured.
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