The Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Steeple Chase is one of the trials for owners and trainers for the Cross Country Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March. The race at Cheltenham on Friday, December 12, looks a nice opportunity for Pass Me By, whose trainer Suzy Smith is looking forward to another good effort from the nine-year-old, who relished his first attempt over the course and distance at The Open in November.
Smiths charge made his cross-country debut in the three mile, seven furlong Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase on November 14, taking third at 50/1. Pass Me By stayed on readily that day to finish less than five lengths behind the winner Dix Villez, to whom he was conceding 9lb.
Smith revealed today: "The Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Steeple Chase at Cheltenham is the aim for Pass Me By. I was really pleased last time because he really took to the course and it is quite exciting. The main thing is that he has soft ground but his jumping round there was absolutely brilliant, particularly for a horse attempting it for the first time.
"He has an even better chance this time because he will not have the penalties he had last time. That should help him and I think he stands a very good chance in it. He was staying on at the end quite happily last time - he stays all day."
Smith, who trains at Lewes in East Sussex, saddled Pass Me By to win the Sussex National in January, 2007. The Paul Beck-owned gelding had previously been with trainer Richard Guest, who rated him a future Grand National prospect. Pass Me By in turn left Smith ahead of the 2007/2008 season to join Venetia Williams yard in Herefordshire, before returning to the Sussex handler this past summer. She continued: "The horse has his problems but hopefully that last race in the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase has rejuvenated him. He is a horse with ability but he is quite a bad bleeder. It is just a matter of keeping him right.
"If he was to go up in the weights, we would be talking about the Grand National for him. The horse obviously enjoys the cross country but you never tend to move in the weights after running in it. I feel that he is a National horse and if that had been a regular chase, he would have probably gone up enough to be able to get in the Grand National. I really believe that he is a National horse, particularly if the ground comes up soft, because he just stays all day. Hes a nice horse with a lot of ability."