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Mann Looks to Mr Big in Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase

Mr Big heads to the £25,000 Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase (3.00pm) at The Open tomorrow, Friday, November 12, having negotiated the daunting banks and fences of the famous Velka Pardubice in the Czech Republic on his most recent outing.

The nine-year-old completed the remarkable Czech cross country chase in 12th place. That was an improvement on the 14th position he achieved in 2009, after which he clinched fourth in that year’s renewal of the three-mile, seven-furlong Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase.

Garde Champetre

Garde Champetre
Trainer Charlie Mann is hoping that the Eurobus gelding can post another fine effort off the back of his most recent Czech adventure, although he faces stiff competition with Irish handler Enda Bolger, successful six times in the race, responsible for three of the 11 runners, among them last year’s victor Garde Champetre and runner-up Heads Onthe Ground. Set to make his debut over Cheltenham’s cross country course is the Colin Tizzard-trained Joe Lively. The high-class 11-year-old has a fine record at Cheltenham and landed the Grade Two Letheby & Christopher Chase in January, 2009, and was last seen finishing 10th in the Grand National at Aintree in April.

Mann revealed today: “Mr Big is not at all well in at the weights tomorrow but he is good round there, he jumps well. Noel (Fehily) loves riding around there and we know he will get round but when he’s taking on horses like Joe Lively at level weights, he’s hardly thrown in, but, he jumps round there, so he goes for the race and the owners and I will enjoy the day out.”

Mann continued: “They’re saying the ground is slightly quicker on the cross country course at Cheltenham and he would be all right on that. He goes on pretty much any ground but not when it’s a road like it was on his last start.

“I wouldn’t say he enjoyed that experience in the Pardubice - he got round but the ground was way too quick for him, it was like the A4. You have to go out there a week before so you’re in the lap of the gods as to what’s going to happen with the ground. It was far too fast for him but he will be fine with the going at Cheltenham.”

Enda Bolger also saddles Freneys Well as he seeks a seventh victory following the triumphs of Fiftysevenchannels (1997), Spot Thedifference (2004, 2005, 2006 & 2007) and Garde Champetre (2009).

The field is also made up of Sizing Australia, third to Garde Champetre last year, Lucky Luk, Changing Course, Flintoff, Lacdoudal and Pass Me By.

Friday’s feature contest is the £40,000 Handicap Chase (2.25pm) over two miles, which has attracted a field of 12, headed by top-weight Safari Journey, while the £25,000 Grade Two Cheltenham Collection Novices’ Hurdle (1.50pm) over an extended two miles sees last season’s impressive Grade One Weatherbys Champion Bumper winner Cue Card bid to extend his unbeaten record against seven smart rivals.

Kicking off the day’s proceedings is the extended three-mile £14,000 The Irish Times Amateur Riders’ Handicap Chase (1.15pm), which was won last year by subsequent Grade Three Racing Post Chase hero Razor Royale and has 12 declared runners.

The card is completed by two enthralling contests, the £10,000 Arkle Bookshop Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle (3.35pm) over two miles, five furlongs, and the £15,000 Steel Plate And Sections Novices’ Chase (4.05pm) over about half a furlong shorter, which has been won in recent times by subsequent Grade One totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup winners Denman (2006) and Imperial Commander (2007). The latter contest has 10 declared runners, including the top-class hurdlers Time For Rupert and Reve De Sivola.

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