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Mossey Joe faces tough task to justify lofty price tag for Cheltenham Festival

Mossey Joe, Ireland’s leading hope for the CGA Foxhunter Chase Challenge Cup at the Cheltenham Festival, has to overcome some major statistics if he is land the spoils.

The 11-year-old, who was recently purchased for £160,000 by leading owner Barry O’Connell, is currently the 7/2 favourite with Coral to give the Irish their fourth winner in the race in the past eight years.

The gelding, who is now trained by Enda Bolger, will head to the Festival having not run since beating Chapoturgeon by 20 lengths at Stratford last June.

That is a major negative, as nine out of the last 10 winners of the CGA Foxhunter Chase Challenge Cup had been in action between 12 and 34 days before the race.

Another thing against him is his age, as 21 of the last 23 winners have all been below 11-years-old.

Those stats suggests that, despite his undoubted class, he will have to be at his very best if he is to triumph over some younger up-and-coming rivals.

The most interesting of those could well be his stable companion On The Fringe.

He ran well in the contest back in 2011 when finishing fourth to Zemsky and is very lightly raced for his age.

The nine-year-old is now looking a far stronger horse than he was three years ago, and his form this season has a solid look to it.

He beat Tammys Hill and Salsify in good style on his seasonal reappearance at Down Royal, and the latter has won the CGA Foxhunter Chase Challenge Cup for the past two years.

The gelding then went down by just 3/4 of a length to Tammys Hill in the Raymond Smith Memorial

Hunters’ Chase at Leopardstown on his latest start, and that has proved the key Irish trial for Cheltenham in recent years.

Mossey Joe is 6/1 with Coral for the CGA Foxhunter Chase Challenge Cup.