The Favorites for the Cross Country Chase at the 2021 Cheltenham Festival

By  //  March 9, 2021

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With just days to go before the Cheltenham Festival kicks off at last, punters everywhere are agonizing over the Cheltenham betting odds to try and finalize their picks. While there will be no famous ‘Cheltenham Roar’ at the Festival due to the absence of spectators, the meeting still promises to be a hugely exciting occasion with no shortage of drama.

And while the Festival itself is seen as the culmination of a year’s work for many horses, some punters and horse racing fans will be looking to it as a signal of things to come from various runners.

This is especially true of the Cross Country Chase, the longest race of the Festival, which can often give an indication as to who might triumph in the Grand National, which takes place at Aintree next month.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the favorites for the Cross Country Chase, and see if the odds can give us a clue as to which horse might win the big one come April 10th.

Easysland

It’s no surprise that last year’s Cross Country winner Easysland stands as the favorite for glory once again. It was an impressive victory for the David Cottin-trained horse last year, condemning defending champion Tiger Roll to second place by a distant 17 lengths.

The question on everyone’s lips is whether Easysland can repeat the trick. The bookies seem to think so, but anything is possible come March 17th. Easysland is currently something of an outside bet for the Grand National, with other contenders at shorter odds, but with a strong performance at Cheltenham those odds could shrink.

Tiger Roll

While Tiger Roll is all set to try and regain the Cross Country Chase title, there will be no attempt to win a third successive Grand National next month, due to Michael O’Leary’s decision to withdraw his horse over what he feels is an unfair handicap. That means that the upcoming Cheltenham Festival is likely to be Tiger Roll’s last outing before the 11-year-old earns a well-deserved retirement.

The form of the once great champion has been on a steady decline, but he still stands as the second favorite for the Cross Country Chase, and it would be wonderful to see one last supreme performance.

Potters Corner

While the last few races haven’t really gone to plan for Potters Corner, there’s no doubt that the 11-year-old still has plenty left to give, and could well give the top favorites a run for their money in the Cross Country Chase on March 17th.

Horse racing fans may remember that Potters Corner was the winner in the Virtual Grand National, which was held in place of the real thing last year. However, similar to Easysland, Potters Corner is a distant 25/1 for the real-life Grand National next month.

Shady Operator

Trained by Enda Bolger, Shady Operator goes into the Cross Country Chase at Cheltenham with a little bit of form, having won the P.P. Hogan Memorial Cross Country Chase at Punchestown back in February. Of course, the Cheltenham Festival version of the race will prove more challenging given the nature of the competition, but Bolger will be confident that Shady Operator can give anyone a run for their money at Prestbury Park.

There is only an outside chance of seeing Shady Operator at the Grand National, and a winning performance at Cheltenham is paramount to those chances.

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