One of the few races not to feature a Willie-Mullins trained antepost favourite, the Cheltenham Glenfarclas Cross Contry race on Wednesday 17 March is shaping into a wide-open contest. One year ago, Easysland and Tiger Roll dominated the build-up, and though those same two horses feature again in the betting lists, the home team are certainly not out of it.
➚ TRENDING UP
Reigning champ Easysland was unbeaten in this discipline for two years prior to his tame defeat back here at Cheltenham last November. The French raider finished unplaced, with race fitness blamed at the time. Not seen since, he continues to head the Festival betting at 7/4 with bet365, despite having missed an engagement back at Prestbury Park in December.
Easysland needs minding between his races and it was understandable that Cottin did not wish to meet those November horses on worse terms the following month. In March all will meet on level weights.
Shady Operator returned to the winning ways this month in this discipline. Winless since being very well supported in the 2019 Irish Grand National, Enda Bolger received this horse only last November and converted him to win over the Punchestown banks earlier this month.
Shady Operator is versatile with regards to the ground conditions and although he lacks the crucial Cheltenham experience, William Hill’s 14/1 quote dramatically underestimates his chances in this. That said, Paddy Power’s 10/1 with the non-runner-no-bet concession would be a wiser investment given the favourite here is also owned by JP McManus.
8/1 Ajas is another set to represent David Cottin. His Grand Prix de Pau win last month earmarks him as one of the classier sorts in here, but he is risky.
➘ TRENDING DOWN
Potters Corner scoped poorly in December and missed his chance to build on a satisfactory introduction to this sport when finished third to Kingswell Theatre in March. 9/1 for this race in March, his two recent spins over hurdles do not inspire confidence and it has to be a concern that his main target is the Grand National.
The wiseguy horse to surge up the lists this winter was the Guillaume Macaire-trained Uniketat. Winner of the Pau Grand Cross this month, he fulfilled a long-term objective and is reportedly going to have a break. This 12/1 shot makes no appeal and Macaire’ charge only just managed to scrape home in Listed company at Pau.
You could set your watch by Tiger Roll in this event but after a lackluster run in the Boyne Hurdle this weekend, even his biggest fans will struggle to make a case for him at 9/1 with Sky Bet.