Cheltenham’s three-day November Meeting starts on Friday 16 November, a day which is known as Countryside Day. That’s because it features the Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Chase in which the main star on show is the 2018 Grand National winner Tiger Roll. We’re backing against Tiger Roll though, whilst we’ve also put up some free tips for the Betvictor Handicap Chase, Steel Plate And Sections Novices’ Chase, and the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle.
A Hare Breath usually runs well at this time of year, whilst he’s also won twice on his seasonal debut. Having aborted his chasing career once, connections trained him to claim a Listed Handicap Hurdle off a mark of 139 last year at Sandown and he won that in the style of a horse that could rank much higher than that on a going day.
Therefore, a mark of 140 over fences should not be beyond him at a course where he’s also won at over hurdles. That last hurdles success was also achieved when trying to concede weight to fairly exposed rivals and top-weight shouldn’t be a problem. Daryl Jacob was also on board for that last success and his quiet style should suit the horse, whilst the Cheltenham Hill holds no fears.
Betvictor Handicap Chase Free Tip: A Hare Breath @ 4.50 Widely Available
A Fascinating renewal of the Steel Plate And Sections Novices’ Chase, with all of the seven runners likely to achieve at least as much over fences as they did over hurdles, with some having the potential to take much higher order over the larger obstacles.
However, it looks significant that Nicky Henderson send grade 2 hurdle winner Mr Whipped straight over fences this season. That grade 2 win came at Warwick last season, where he beat a horse that has already won a handicap off a mark of 140 this season, form which gives him a leading chance. The 5lb he gets from the four previous winners could also prove significant, as it did for O O Seven, another Nicky Henderson trained winner of this race two-years ago.
Steel Plate And Sections Novices’ Chase Free Tip: Mr Whipped @ 3.75 Widely Available
Tiger Roll won the Cross Country Chase at last year’s Cheltenham Festival before winning the Grand National and he stands out as the class horse in this field. He does have to concede weight all-round though and Grand National winners often struggle after winning the big one. He does have the beating of course and distance specialist Bless The Wings at the weights, as he conceded 7lb to his stablemate in the Grand National and only has to concede the same 7lb here.
However, this little horse may not enjoy having to carry top-weight of 11-12. So, it could be worth taking him on with three-time course and distance winner Josies Orders who, after struggling in the level-weight versions of these cross-country events on his last few appearances here, has been shown some leniency by the handicapper as he returns to handicap company. A winner of this race in 2015, his trainer has also won five of the nine renewals of this race.
Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Chase Free Tip: Josies Orders @ 4.50 Bet365, 4.00 Betvictor and Boylesports
There have been some high-profile winners of the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle in recent seasons including the likes of Coneygree, Diamond Harry, Peregrine Run, and On The Blind Side, and it will be interesting to see if any of these relatively unexposed entries are well-backed.
One horse that was certainly well-backed last time was Darlac, and it’s interesting that Richard Johnson again takes the ride for the Colin Tizzard stable here. He won by 17-lengths last time and, whilst his previous form didn’t suggest he’d be winning a grade 2 this year, it could be that the in-form Tizzard stable has unlocked plenty of ability in this son of the St Leger winner Lucarno.
Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle Free Tip: Darlac @ 5.50 Boylesports, 5.00 Widely Available
Odds Correct at Time of Publication