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2016 Cheltenham Festival news: Foxrock given Cross Country target

David Metcalf | February 24, 2016

Classy Foxrock handed Cross Country mission

Trainer Ted Walsh has revealed that Foxrock will be targeted at the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase at next month’s Cheltenham Festival, and Coral make the Barry Connell-owned gelding 6/1 third-favourite for the 3m 6f contest on Wednesday, March 16th.

It will be the first time that eight-year-old has sampled the unique fences and configurations of a cross country event, but Walsh believes the race represents his best chance of success at the four-day spectacular.

Foxrock has disappointed on his two visits to the festival, finishing ninth in the National Hunt Chase in 2014 and 12th in the Ryanair Chase a year ago.

Ted Walsh Kill 3.2.15 Photo: Patrick McCann

However, he is a four-time winner over fences, and has some top class form to his name which will make him a massive player if taking to the course.

Foxrock won the valuable Leopardstown Handicap Chase last season and went on to finish a fine second to Carlingford Lough in what was then the Hennessy Gold Cup at Leopardstown.

His best performance this season came in the Grade 1 Lexus Chase in which he finished a cracking one length third to leading Gold Cup hope Don Poil, and Foxrock was also far from when fourth in the Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown when last seen in action.

Elliott confident Cheltenham track not a problem for Don Cossack

Gordon Elliott feels the track at Cheltenham holds no fears for his Gold Cup hope Don Cossack, currently 4/1 joint-favourite with Coral, despite the gelding failing to live up to expectations in his two previous runs at the Festival.

The nine-year-old has won 11 of his 18 starts over fences and is currently the highest rated chaser in Anglo-Irish Jump Classifications with a rating of 175.

However, Don Cossack fell in the 2014 running of the RSA and could finish only third when sent off favourite for last year’s Ryanair Chase when again making some costly errors.

Many feel that the Don is unsuited by the undulations of Cheltenham, but Irish trainer Elliott has no fears regarding that score.

Horse Racing - 2015 Northern Ireland Festival of Racing - Day Two - Down Royal Racecourse

Speaking on At The Races, he said: “The track won’t bother him. He’s won right-handed and left-handed, he’s won at Punchestown and Aintree.

“The first year at Cheltenham he was travelling well but just let fly at one from outside the wings and fell in the RSA and the following year he was running a lovely race at the top of the hill when he got brought to a standstill and then got squeezed out at the second last.

“I’m not saying he would have won but he’d have been a good second if that didn’t happen. I’m not worried about the track, it’s just if he’s good enough.”

Annie cut for Champion Hurdle glory after injury rules out Arctic Fire

Annie Power is now 6/4 favourite (from 7/4) with Coral for the Champion Hurdle following the news that stable companion Arctic Fire would miss the race after picking up an injury.

Arctic Fire ran a blinder in the Champion 12 months ago when chasing home Faugheen, and had been 7/2 second-favourite with Coral to go one better in next month’s renewal on Tuesday, March 15th.

However, trainer Willie Mullins revealed yesterday that the seven-year-old was found to have chipped a bone after exercising and would not run again this season.

HORSE RACING

The news is another devastating blow for Mullins, who only last week announced he was having to abandon plans to run 1/3 favourite and defending champion Faugheen after the gelding was found to have a sore suspensory.

There are now just 13 potential runners in the Champion Hurdle, for which Annie Power still has to be supplemented, and Identity Thief and Nichols Canyon are the 9/2 joint-second favourites with Coral.

My Tent Or Yours is next best in at 6/1, with The New One and 8/1 shot to make it third time lucky in the Grade 1 contest.

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