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There’s lots to Love about Rory in the Cross Country Chase

Irish trainer Enda Bolger is the man to fear when it comes to the Cross Country Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, and he looks to have leading claims of winning the prize for the fifth time with Love Rory.

The Limerick-based handler has won four of the nine runnings of the race since it was introduced into the Festival programme in 2005, with the last coming courtesy of Garde Champetre in 2009.

In Love Rory he has a progressive six-year-old who has a strike rate of 25 percent in his races under rules, winning four from 16 and being placed on three occasions.

The gelding comes into the race on the back of a win over last year’s Cross Country winner Big Shu in the Glenfarclas P.P. Hogan Memorial Cross Country Chase at Punchestown, where he travelled well throughout and stayed on strongly to score by 2 1/4 lengths.

He is set to meet the runner-up on 5lb worse terms at Cheltenham, but is three years younger than that rival and looks open to further improvement.

The Punchestown has also proved to be the perfect prep race for his Festival target.

The P.P. Hogan was first run in 2006, and has produced four winners and four runners-up in the Cross Country Chase.

That augurs well for the chances of Love Rory, who is also likely to have the services of Nina Carberry in the saddle.

She has ridden three of the last seven winners of this race, and her knowledge and experience around the unique track is a major plus.

In regards to odds Coral go 7/1 about Love Rory for the Cross Country Chase, and given his progressive profile that looks decent value given that Big Shu, who he beat fair and square last time out, is the market leader at 7/2.