2020 Cross Country Chase tips – Can anyone take down Tiger?
Cross Country Chase Tips
We share our 2020 Cross Country Chase tips on day two of the Cheltenham Festival in the latest of our Cheltenham tips articles.
Once the Champion Chaser has been crowned, the Prestbury Park patrons will be treated to the most unique race at the Cheltenham Festival, the Glenfarclas Cross Country. Over the three-and-three-quarter-mile trip, a series of weird and wonderful obstacles will have to be jumped, scaled and crossed, in order for any of the entrants to earn the bountiful first prize.
I’ve taken a look through the betting, highlighted the most likely runners and come up with my best 2020 Cross Country Chase betting predictions.
Cross Country Chase Tips – The Returning King
Five Cheltenham Festival wins. Two Cross Countrys. Two Grand National triumphs. That tells you all you need to know about the calibre of Tiger Roll (13/8 Ladbrokes). Gordon Elliott’s charge looked better than ever last season, storming to a 22-length triumph here before retaining his Aintree crown with apparent ease. Gordon Elliott’s star suffered a set-back earlier in the season. The team have confirmed he’s recovered well, though, and he’s apparently bouncing at home ahead of his return in the Boyne Hurdle. He looks the banker bet on day two.
Cross Country Chase Tips – Bolger’s Bullets
Enda Bolger is known as “the king of the banks” at home in Ireland, and trained four of the first five Cross Country winners. Bolger’s leading contender this year looks to be Yanworth (9/1 Unibet), who once carried the tag of favouritism into a Champion Hurdle for Alan King. Yanworth claimed victory on his first start in a Cross Country at Punchestown, but then fell with around a mile to travel on his return to Cheltenham in December. Yanworth didn’t handle the track well that day, and he’s short enough in the betting. He won’t feature as one of my Cross Country tips.
Finished fourth in the 2017 and 2018 renewals of the Cross Country. Those efforts remain Auvergat’s (16/1 Ladbrokes) best around Cheltenham, and Bolger’s charge was pulled up well before the end in last year’s race. This ten-year-old hasn’t been seen since a midfield finish in the Galway Plate at the end of July. I couldn’t have him on my mind.
Enda Bolger’s most recent winner of this race, having been handed the Cross Country crown in 2016 after first past the post, Any Currency returned a positive test. Josies Orders (33/1 William Hill) was starting to show signs of decline last season, with a narrow defeat at Punchestown the only time he got within 25-lengths of the winner in any of his his four starts. Again, there are better options available.
2020 Cross Country Chase Tips – French Fancies
The raiding party from France will be led by Easysland (10/3 Coral), who will return to Cheltenham looking for his seventh victory on the bounce. Dominic Cottin’s favourite lived up the tag of favouritism when winning the Cross Country Handicap on his Cheltenham debut in December. JP McManus then moved quickly to purchase this improving six-year-old, and he looks like Tiger Roll’s principle rival.
Emmanuel Clayeux has watched his charge place behind Tiger Roll in the last two editions of the Cross Country. In-between those fine efforts, Urgent De Grigaine (12/1 Unibet) has come close to winning handicaps here at Cheltenham a couple of times, and managed to beat Cantlow by three lengths at the 2017 January meeting. A consistent sort who clearly enjoyed the course here at Cheltenham. Urgent De Grigaine remains a big player and he’ll amongst the most popular each-way Cheltenham Festival tips.
Got the better of Urgent De Grigaine when he made his Cheltenham debut here in November. Charlie Deutsch took the ride that day, and Diesel D’Allier (20/1 Coral) proved himself well handicapped in beating his countryman by almost five lengths. Emmanuel Clayeux’s charge was getting over a stone-and-a-half from his stablemate at the weight that day. He’ll need to step up on that performance to get involved off level-weights.
Cross Country Chase Tips – Grade One Winners
Nicky Henderson has tried everything to reignite the flame within Might Bite (14/1 Ladbrokes) this term. A fall at Aintree, was followed by a random run over hurdles, where Might Bite spat his dummy out down the home straight. After being trounced by Native River in the Denman Chase, Henderson claimed he could send Might Bite over the Cross Country fences. This seems very much to be a “last resort” situation for a horse who’s clearly fallen out of love with the game. There are much more reliable each-way Cross Country tips available, that the former Gold Cup runner-up.
Having almost lost his life in the National Hunt Chase the previous season, Edwulf (16/1 Unibet) came out of retirement and won the Irish Gold Cup in February 2018. This season, Joseph O’Brien’s 11-year-old has won between the flags and placed twice in Hunter Chases. He has no Cross Country experience, though, and will probably line up in the Foxhunters.
Like Nicky Henderson with Might Bite, Willie Mullins’ has been left wondering what to do with this former elite performer. Mullins did manage to find a winning opportunity for Yorkhill (20/1 Unibet) during the summer, scoring in a modest chase at the Galway Festival. Since then, the former Marsh Chase winner has resumed the dreadful form he’s displayed over the past two season, and I see no reason to suggest he’ll get involved in a race as specialist as the Cross Country.
Cross Country Chase Tips – Overlooked Outsiders
Jessica Harrington’s charge came within a couple of lengths of beating Yanworth at Punchestown on his first Cross Country start this term. Neverushacon (25/1 Unibet) then had his first taste of the course here at Cheltenham, but a couple of late mistakes meant he could finish no better than fifth. Harrington’s nine-year-old ran well to place third at Kelso the last day, on heavy ground which was never going to suit. The experience he gained here in December will be vital when Neverushacon makes his Cheltenham Festival debut.
Experienced the Cross Country fences twice during the first half of the season, finishing fourth and seventh in handicaps here at Cheltenham. Rolling Dylan (33/1 Coral) really struggled on the second of those outings, and could only finish a distance third on his most recent run at Ludlow. I can’t see his eleven-race losing streak ending at the Festival.
Finished fifth behind Tiger Roll as a six-year-old in 2018. Chic Name (40/1 Unibet) also appeared in the two handicaps here at Cheltenham earlier in the season, finishing third and fourth without ever looking likely to mount a winning challenge. A capable handicapper on his day, but class usually comes to the fore in the Cross Country.
Fact Of The Matter
Burst onto the scene with a narrow defeat and a strong victory in two outings at Cheltenham last season. Jamie Snowden’s charge made the most of low marks on both of those occasions. Since getting chucked up the weights, Fact Of The Matter (40/1 Unibet) has been largely uncompetitive. He could only finish a 60-length eighth in this race 12 months ago and went into the contest with winning momentum. He won’t be one of my 2020 Cross Country Chase tips.
Cross Country Chase Tips – Verdict
In the past four years, the lowest rating of a horse who made any of the top three places was 141, which all-but rules out handicappers like Diesel D’Allier and Chic Name. This would give hope to the connections of Might Bite and Yorkhill, but both are too erratic to be relied upon to deliver any sort of performance.
The obvious bet here is TIGER ROLL, and he’ll be my main Cross Country Chase tip. If Tiger Roll comes out of his return to action in the Boyne Hurdle unscathed, he’ll be an odds-on shot for the Cross Country. Even if Gordon Elliott doesn’t run him in the Boyne Hurdle, I expect he’ll win this first time out anyway. The time to back Tiger Roll is right now!
The only other runner who holds any sort of appeal is Easysland, who was super impressive when winning the handicap here in December and remains open to improvement. While I don’t think he’s got the class to beat Tiger Roll, I think he’s nailed on to finish second behind the market leader. A straight 2020 Cross Country Chase tips forecast could prove profitable.