Cheltenham: Cantlow too good for cross-country rivals

Cantlow won the latest cross country event at Cheltenham

PICTURE: Patrick McCann ( Cantlow too good for them in the cross country By Peter Scargill 1:43PM 9 DEC 2016

Report: Cheltenham, Friday

Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase (Class 2), 3m6f37y, 5yo+

CANTLOW became the latest JP McManus-owned chaser to show the benefit of a switch to Enda Bolger as he ran out an easy winner of the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase at Cheltenham on Friday.

The 11-year-old gelding, who finished second in the La Touche Cup at Punchestown in the spring, led from a way out under Mark Walsh and was never seriously troubled as he extended to a nine-length success over Bless The Wings.

The French-trained Gallo's Star was a head back in third. His jockey Thomas Beaurain mistook the half-furlong marker for the winning post and briefly sat up, which given the margins involved at the line was deemed enough by the stewards to hand down a seven-day ban for failing to ride out.

The other challenger from mainland Europe, the Czech-trained Delight My Fire, had been serving it up to the winner before getting in too tight at the second Aintree fence and falling.

That incident looked to shake the race up, as Bless The Wings moved into a challenging position whle Bertie Boru was hampered and unseated, but Cantlow had avoided the commotion in front and had the race in safe keeping from there.

Bolger, who was winning this race for the fifth time in 11 years, said: "The ground was a big factor today because it was firm in places and he really bounces off it. I loved the way he pricks his ears and flew round.

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"I am lucky I am given these horses by Mr McManus. They are all pretty high-class horses in their early careers. Where I live I have brilliant neighbours who allow me to school the horses through their farms. That is the makings of them."

Of Cantlow he added: "It took him a few races to get the hang of this. The last day at Punchestown he showed he was really good and today was just a matter of holding onto him. He excelled today. He is a nice horse for the race in March."

Cantlow, notoriously difficult in his days with Paul Webber but seemingly rejuvenated for Bolger, was cut for the equivalent race at the festival in March. He is now 10-1 with Hills (from 14s) and SkyBet. Last year's winner Josies Orders, also trained by Bolger, remains the 3-1 market leader.

Bolger said: "Josies Orders is at home probably watching TV. He wants soft ground and it wasn't going to happen here when I saw the word firm. It will rain when it rains and Josies will be back."

Also at Cheltenham on Friday. . .

IN the battle of the in-form trainers it was Colin Tizzard who came out on top as Theatre Guide just pipped the wonderfully gallant Perfect Candidate to win the Grade 3 Unicoin Group Handicap Chase.

Jumping boldly and eliciting mistakes from many of his rivals, the Fergal O'Brien-trained Perfect Candidate was headed before the last by the Tizzard-trained Bally Longford as stablemate Theatre Guide appeared to be set for third.

Perfect Candidate was not finished and after the last he stuck his neck out and passed Bally Longford, but he was hit was a sucker punch from Theatre Guide to lose out by a sliver in the photo.

Perfect Candidate's rider Conor Shoemark picked up a 15-day ban for using his whip above the permitted level, in the incorrect place and failing to give his mount time to respond.

Payment cashes in

Singlefarmpayment had earlier earned quotes of 50-1 for the RSA Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March after he benefited from a collapse in the pace late on to win the 3m1½ novices' chase.

Held up by jockey Adrian Heskin as several others pushed on, Singlefarmpayment swept into the lead before the second last and powered up the hill to defeat the rallying Arpege D'Alene and provide trainer Tom George with yet another winner.

Believing a winner

Waiting tactics also proved beneficial in the following mares' handicap chase for Still Believing, who was produced with her challenge in the home straight and easily brushed aside the boldly-ridden Dawnieriver.

The petrol tank quickly ran dry for Dawnieriver, who had previously looked to be travelling strongly, and Still Believing had enough to take victory for jockey Adam Wedge and trainer Evan Williams.

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