Randox Health Grand National hero Tiger Roll could return to Cheltenham for the £25,000 Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Chase (3.00pm) one of the highlights on Countryside Day at The November Meeting, Friday, November 16.
The Gordon Elliott-trained eight-year-old joined a select group of horses to win three different races at The Festival™ presented by Magners when gamely beating Urgent De Gregaine (Emmanuel Clayeux FR) in the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase in March.
That success followed victories in the 2017 G2 National Hunt Chase and the G1 JCB Triumph Hurdle in 2014, with the Gigginstown House Stud-owned chaser going on to secure a famous win in the world’s greatest chase at Aintree in April.
Irish-based Elliott has also given an entry to Bless The Wings, who was third behind Tiger Roll in the Randox Health Grand National and won Cheltenham’s Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Chase at The International in December, plus Swingbridge and Presenting Julio.
Horses trained in Ireland account for 10 of the 18 entries for the three and three-quarter mile race, run on Cheltenham’s unique Cross Country Course, including the Enda Bolger-trained pair of Josies Orders, a three-time course and distance winner, and Auvergnat, who took Punchestown’s La Touche Cup in April.
Willie Mullins, Ireland’s champion Jump trainer, may be represented by Ballycasey, a G1 winner over fences, while recent Fakenham scorer Midnight Shot (Charlie Longsdon) and Junction Fourteen (Emma Lavelle) feature among the British-trained contenders.
The most valuable contest on Countryside Day is the £45,000 BetVictor Handicap Chase (1.50pm), and Hampshire-based trainer Paul Henderson is eyeing a third straight victory in the two-mile contest. He runs last year’s winner Doitforthevillage.
The nine-year-old kept on well to score by two lengths 12 months ago and returned to Cheltenham in March to take sixth after being hampered in the G3 Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Handicap Chase at The Festival™ presented by Magners.
Doitforthevillage went on to finish fourth on his only subsequent appearance in the G3 Red Rum Handicap Chase at Aintree’s Randox Health Grand National Festival in April.
Henderson, who sent out Un Beau Roman to victory in the 2016 BetVictor Handicap Chase, revealed today: “Doitforthevillage will take his chance at Cheltenham, providing the ground is good to soft.
“I have been waiting for the weather to change – he was given an entry at Ascot the other day, but he is too good a horse to risk on quick ground.
“Everything that fell in the Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Handicap Chase seemed to fall in front of him, but he stayed on to finish sixth, and his Aintree run was possibly a race too many after a long season.
“I have done more with him at home this season than I normally do, but I would have liked to get a run into him before. He won the race last year on his third run of the season, so we are a bit behind this time around and my horses tend to improve for a run.
“Doitforthevillage hasn’t lost any of his ability and is just coming into his prime as a nine-year-old. It’s only that I haven’t been able to get a race into him beforehand that I am not as confident as last year.”
The 15 entries for the BetVictor Handicap Chase also include Modus (Paul Nicholls), successful over the same course and distance in the Randox Health Handicap Chase at The Showcase last month, and Theinval, who finished two places ahead of Doitforthevillage in the Red Rum Handicap Chase.
More exciting prospects are set to run on the card, with impressive Fontwell winner Darlac (Colin Tizzard) and Dinons (Gordon Elliott), who completed a five-timer at The Showcase, among 13 entries for the £32,000 G2 Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle (3.00pm) over two miles and five furlongs.
Subsequent Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup winners Denman and Imperial Commander won the two and a half-mile £25,000 Steel Plate And Sections Novices’ Chase (2.25pm) and 19 contenders for this year’s renewal include Le Breuil (Ben Pauling) and Jenkins (Nicky Henderson), who have both made bright starts to their chasing careers.
Racing gets underway with the £25,000 Markel Insurance Amateur Riders’ Handicap Chase (12.40pm, 3m 1f, 30 entries) and the £15,000 Fairlight Books Novices’ Handicap Hurdle (1.15pm, 2m 87y, 35 entries).
The November Meeting continues on Saturday, November 17, when the highlight of the seven-race card is the £160,000 G3 BetVictor Gold Cup, while six races on Sunday, November 18, include the £100,000 G3 Unibet Greatwood Handicap Hurdle and the £75,000 G2 Shloer Chase.