Cross Country Chase

We have now had nine Cross Country Chases at the Festival since its introduction in 2005.

Perhaps the most famous previous winner is Spot Thedifference who won the first running of the cross country, finished runner up in 2006 and finished fourth in 2007. Upon his retirement he had won on seven occasions over the cross country fences at Cheltenham!

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Cheltenham Scene
Partial view of the Cross Country course on Cheltenham Festival Day One 2012

The Cross Country was run on the Thursday of the meeting last year after the race was lost to frost on the first day of the Festival.

Cross Country Chase Trends

8/9were trained in Ireland (as were 27 of the last 32 placed horses!)
8/9were rated between 126-143
7/9were aged nine or older
8/9had won over at least three miles
7/9carried no more than 10st 13lbs
6/9had contested the cross country handicap at Cheltenham in December
5/9had previously won a cross country race

Cross Country Analysis

The Cross Country Chase is approaching its tenth year at the Festival and the race could be hitting a turning point with an apparent improvement in the quality of horse now taking its chance in the race.

With the likes of top trainers Willie Mullins and Philip Hobbs now targeting this race we are seeing a different type of chaser take on the demands of this most unusual course and as such some of the previous trends are starting to come under question.

For the first five years it appeared that coming into the race in good form was an essential criteria as was winning form in a cross country race. However, the last four winners have all gone against the grain in these areas so the complexion of what is required to win this race appears to be changing.

Watch out for the winner of the PP Hogan Cross Country Chase at Punchestown in February as the winner there has gone on to win this race at Cheltenham in three of the last nine years.

Cross Country Chase Last Nine Winners

Table below shows the last nine winners of the race, their age/weight at the time of winning, trainer, jockey and odds (starting price).
2013Big Shu8-10-5P MaherB Cash14/1
2012Balthazar King8-10-9P HobbsR Johnson11/2
2011Sizing Australia9-10-9H De BromheadA E Lynch13/2
2010A New Story12-9-7M HouriganAP Heskin25/1
2009Garde Champetre10-11-12E BolgerMiss N Carberry7/2
2008Garde Champetre9-10-13E BolgerMiss N Carberry4/1
2007Heads On The Ground10-10-2E BolgerMiss N Carberry5/2F
2006Native Jack12-10-8P RothwellD Russell7/2F
2005Spot Thedifference12-11-12E BolgerMr J T McNamara4/1

Cross Country Chase Preview

Enda Bolger’s early domination of this race could now be under threat as the master of the Cross Country race has not won this race since 2009 after winning four of the first five renewals.

More of the high profile trainers are now actively targeting this race so it will be interesting to see if Bolger can regain the winning thread.

JP McManus owned horses have won four of the runnings of this race and the cross country is undoubtedly one of the races that the legendary owner targets at the Festival.

Cross Country Chase Tips

Last year's winner Big Shu has never been out of the first two in his four Cross Country races to date and he ran really well when finishing runner-up to Love Rory in the best trial for this race, the PP Hogan at Punchestown.

His trainer was at pains to indicate that Big Shu would definitely come on for the run at Punchestown.

The handicapper has given Peter Maher's horse a mark of 145 for the Grand National and if the horse is allowed to run off something similar in the Cross Country he would appear to have an excellent chance of winning the race once again.

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Cross Country Odds

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