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Ballyboker Bridge can challenge Josies Orders for Cross Country Chase glory

Wednesday 3rd February 2016

It may lack the strength in depth of other Cheltenham Festival races, but the Cross Country Chase has become an integral part of day two's festivities of the Greatest Show on Turf, and we aim to point you in the right direction of the winner in our ante-post preview of the unique marathon contest.

Orders Favourite To Hand Bolger Fifth Success In Race

Enda Bolger has been a name synonymous with the Cross Country Chase division since its inaugural event was run in 2005, but the master Irish handler's dominance has diminished in recent seasons, as having saddled four of the first five winners, he has failed to win the race since 2009.

However, this season he will unleash the form horse over the idiosyncratic obstacles in the shape of Josies Orders, who is a best-priced 11/4 shot with Betfred to add the March crown to his wins over course and distance in November and December.

The seven-year-old's form is rock solid and it would be a brave punter to take him on, but from an ante-post point of view it's hard to see him being any shorter with the bookmakers come the day of the race on March 16, should all the leading protagonists line up, so whilst he sets a very high benchmark for the race, it's hard to get excited at the moment about his chances.

Will We See The Return Of The King?

Dual winner of this race, Balthazar King, is on the road to recovery following his awful fall in the 2015 Crabbie's Grand National, but should the Philip Hobbs-trained veteran win his race to fitness then he is sure to prove a popular choice on the day, and is currently available at 6/1 with BetVictor.

Impressive wins in this race in 2012 and 2014, Balthazar King has been a Cheltenham Festival regular and with four wins over course and distance to his name he is a runner not to be ignored, but it's hard to gauge whether or not he will return the same horse in the spring, and whilst he will be a heart-warming winner, it's a questionable decision to back him without the non runner no bet safety net.

Sire Collonges will be another integral cog to the make-up of this race, but Paul Nicholls' charge has found one to good far too often in this discipline and whilst at 10/1 with Betfair he has each-way credentials, it's hard to see him turning round the formbook with the aforementioned Josies Orders, so the Ditcheat raider could be destined for a minor role once again.

Martin Keighley's Any Currency is another string to the British bow, but like Sire Collonges he has often found one adversary too good, and whilst he managed to get his head in front in December 2014, he put up a tame effort on his last attempt at Cheltenham, and at 10/1 with Sky Bet is one to ignore.

Now 12, Any Currency is one horse that will have to produce a career best on the second day of the Cheltenham Festival if he is to shine here, and whilst level weights could aid his chances slightly, he gives you no confidence of reversing an 80-length defeat to Josies Orders in December, and is one selection to be put on the back burner.

Quantitativeeasing Hopes For More Luck In Running

Bolger is set to fire a two-pronged attack and Quantitativeeasing adds significant depth to his Emerald Isle challenge, and connections will be hoping that they can gain a more fortuitous path through the race this time around, as having travelled well he was carried out in the closing stages of the 2015 renewal.

Available at 6/1 with Paddy Power, the ten-year-old showed he is a class act when storming to glory in the Risk Of Thunder Chase at Punchestown in November, but one win in his last 12 outings at Cheltenham would give you a slight niggling doubt, so whilst on the formbook he could be one of the premier challengers to his stablemate, it could be worth taking him on for a much more attractive betting proposition.

Progressive Ballyboker Bridge The Selection

Peter Maher knows what it takes to win this race having saddled Big Shu to victory in the 2013 renewal, and the Irish trainer could have another potential improver on his hands in the shape of Ballyboker Bridge, who at 16/1 with bet365 is a terrific each-way option for this race.

Since being comfortably beaten by Quantitativeeasing in November, this nine-year-old has blossomed in the Cross Country sphere, as he first ran a cracker when finishing third to Josies Orders at Cheltenham in December, before going on to claim an impressive win in the P.P. Hogan Memorial Cross Country Chase at Punchestown at the end of January.

Still unexposed at this level, Ballyboker Bridge pulled comfortably away from Cantlow (20/1) and Love Rory (25/1), who could both take their chance in this race next month, and having just emptied in the closing stages of that abovementioned Cheltenham race in December, he could strip fitter for his recent exertions, and from an ante-post view he could mark superb each-way value come the festival.

Selection - Ballyboker Bridge (each-way) in 2016 Cross Country Chase @ 16/1 with bet365.com

*Price correct at the time of writing

2016 Cross Country Chase Betting

Tiger Roll K M Donoghue / G Elliott 4/1 4/1
Josies Orders M P Walsh / E Bolger 10/1 12/1
Don Poli 12/1 10/1
Auvergnat Mr D J McInerney / E Bolger 10/1 12/1
Urgent De Gregaine Felix de Giles / E Clayeux 10/1 12/1
One For Arthur 10/1 -
Clarcam 12/1 -
Kingswell Theatre T Scudamore / M Scudamore 20/1 -
Bless The Wings D N Russell / G Elliott 20/1 20/1
My Hometown 33/1 -
Chic Name 50/1 -
Each Way Terms 3

1. Tiger Roll K M Donoghue / G Elliott
2. Josies Orders M P Walsh / E Bolger
4. Auvergnat Mr D J McInerney / E Bolger
5. Urgent De Gregaine Felix de Giles / E Clayeux
8. Kingswell Theatre T Scudamore / M Scudamore
9. Bless The Wings D N Russell / G Elliott
Odds correct as of 11th Apr, 13:57 . Odds are subject to change.
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