Cheltenham Festival 2019: Can Auvergnat bring Enda Bolger Yet More Success in the Cross Country Chase?
There are likely to be a number of familiar faces lining up in this year's Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase and it is shaping up to be another fascinating renewal. At 3m 6f, it is one of the toughest races on the Cheltenham card and a clutch of hardy chasers will once again take to the course on the second day of the festival. Enda Bolder's Auvergnat is a Cheltenham regular and the nine-year old was a resounding winner at Leopardstown at the end of 2018. Can the French-bred stayer improve upon last years fourth place finish?
This yard has enjoyed plenty of success in the race previously with a total of four victories in this National Hunt event. Enda Bolger won three consecutive stagings of this contest between 2007 and 2009 before Josies Orders was awarded the race in 2016 following the disqualification of Any Currency.
Auvergnat will be making his fourth appearance at the Cheltenham Festival and will be looking to improve upon 2018's performance, which saw him finish 17 lengths behind future Grand National winner, Tiger Roll. Gordon Elliott's diminutive stayer has been declared for the race once again, but the nine-year old does have options elsewhere. The ante-post markets are slowly beginning to take shape and Auvergnat is currently the second favourite for this year's renewal ahead of stable-mate Josies Orders and Ucello Conti, who also hails from Elliott's yard. Sites such as betting.betfair will have analysis and Cheltenham horse tips ahead of the 2019 festival and this should help punters narrow down the field in hugely competitive events such as the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase.
Gordon Elliott and Enda Bolger have dominated this race over the last decade and they are once again responsible for the top four in the ante-post betting.
Auvergnat beat Josies Orders twice in 2018 courtesy of a narrow success in the P.P Hogan Memorial Cross Country Chase in February before repeating the trick just two months later at Punchestown.
Following a couple of disappointing outings over the smaller obstacles, the nine-year old returned to familiar surroundings when taking on seventeen fences at Leopardstown at the end of 2018. He helped land a seventh success for J.P McManus in the Paddy Power Chase and was helped by an extremely positive ride from conditional jockey, Donie McInerney. The addition of the blinkers appeared to do the trick and it was a superb all-round performance from the 28-1 shot. This latest success prompted the majority of bookmakers to significantly cut his price for success at the 2019 Cheltenham Festival and Enda Bolger appears to be confident of another big run at the Gloucestershire track.
Auvergnat is a proven stayer and has already shown tremendous versatility during his distinguished career. Another hugely competitive field is expected to take to the track for the energy-sapping event on the second day of the Cheltenham Festival. A combination of Bolger's record in this contest and Auvergnat's durability should result in another huge run and the talented ten-year-old is likely to be extremely popular with punters once again this year.