Tiger Roll and Easysland rematch the highlight of Countryside Day
A MOUTH-WATERING rematch between Tiger Roll and Easysland is the highlight of Countryside Day on Friday, the first day of Cheltenham's popular November Meeting.
Taking centre stage is the Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Chase (3pm, nine runners), which is the first of three Glenfarclas-sponsored contests staged over Cheltenham’s unique Cross Country Course during the season.
The Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Chase on Friday sees a fascinating rematch between Tiger Roll (Gordon Elliott IRE/Robbie Power) and Easysland (David Cottin FR/Jonathan Plouganou).
The duo met in the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase at The Festival in March, when Easysland came out on top by 17 lengths.
Easysland was also successful in the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase at The International in December while Tiger Roll landed the contest at The Festival in 2018 and 2019 – before going on to land the Randox Health Grand National in both years.
Friday’s contest is the only handicap staged over the Cross Country Course with Tiger Roll (11st 12lb) having to give 4lb to Easysland (11st 8lb).
In addition to Easysland, trainer David Cottin will also be represented by Vino Royale (Sam Twiston-Davies), who landed two Cross Country Chases at Granville-St Pair Sur Mer in France over the summer.
A horse making his debut over the Cross Country Course is Potters Corner (Christian Williams/Jack Tudor (5)).
The ten-year-old will be making his first appearance since winning the G3 Welsh National at Chepstow in December.
He was a leading contender for the 2020 Randox Health Grand National before its abandonment due to the COVD-19 pandemic.
Connections did gain some small consolation when Potters Corner was named the winner of the virtual Grand National on ITV Racing.
Trainer Christian Williams, who is based in Glamorgan, said: “Potters Corner is in great form.
“He schooled well over the Cross Country fences at the track a couple of weeks ago.
“We are targeting the race as we are just trying to give him a different avenue.
"He’ll be 11 come January, and there are only a certain amount of Nationals you can run in before they take their toll.
“Introducing the Cross Country route with him this season will hopefully give us a bit more longevity.
"This could help get another season or two out of him and I am optimistic he will enjoy it.
“Instead of having to constantly run in Nationals, the Cross Country route might mean he can also go to places like France and run in races like that.
“Leading into the Grand National, we just felt the Cross Country route was the way forward this season.
“It might take him a run or two to get his act together round there, but he is fairly adaptable and it looks a good starting point.
“He is being thrown straight into the lions’ den with both Easysland and Tiger Roll in opposition, but everything we have asked of him he has duly obliged.
“The Aintree Grand National remains the main aim and we are looking forward to getting his season started.”
Also taking place on Countryside Day is the G2 Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle (3.35pm, seven runners) over two miles and five furlongs.
Heading the seven runners is 141-rated Does He Know (Kim Bailey/David Bass), who has won both his starts this season.
The five-year-old’s most recent success came at The Showcase on 23rd October, when he was the impressive winner of the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle over Friday’s course and distance.
Champion trainer Nicky Henderson is represented by Grand Mogul (Nico de Boinville), a comfortable winner at Chepstow last month.
The Grand Visir (Ian Williams/Robert Dunn), won the Ascot Stakes at Royal Ascot in 2019 and was runner-up in the Queen Alexandra Stakes at the same meeting this year.
He has run three times over hurdles but not since finishing third at Worcester in October, 2019.
Action gets under way on Countryside Day with the Markel Insurance Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle (1.15pm, 18 runners, 2m 5f) and is followed by the Mucking Brilliant Paddy Power Handicap Chase (1.50pm, nine runners, 2m).
Top-weight Magic Saint (Paul Nicholls/Bryan Carver (5)) heads the market at 5/2 with Paddy Power for the Mucking Brilliant Paddy Power Handicap Chase, having finished fifth in the G3 Paddy Power Gold Cup last season.
The G3 Paddy Power Gold Cup is the highlight of The November Meeting and declared runners for this year’s contest (2.15pm, Saturday, 14 November) will be known shortly after 10am tomorrow, Thursday.
Completing the card on Countryside Day are the SSS Super Alloys Supports Racing Welfare Novices’ Chase (2.25pm, four runners) and the concluding Valda Energy Novices’ Handicap (4.05pm, 17 runners).