Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase
£25,000 added,
5yo plus,
3m 7f,
Class 2

Friday 15th November 2013

1 Balthazar King 5/4F
2 Uncle Junior 8/1
3 Any Currency 28/1
11 ran Distances: 1l, 5l, 4½l
TIME 8m 16.10s (slow by 12.10s)

Balthazar King survived a terrible blunder at the third fence to record a length victory in the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase at Cheltenham this afternoon.

Balthazar King
© Racehorse Photos

Balthazar King

The nine-year-old, who has now landed a total of six races at Prestbury Park, won the 2012 running of the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase at The Festival and gamely repelled the late challenge of Uncle Junior to justify favouritism at 5/4 and record his second victory over these unique fences.

Trainer Philip Hobbs admitted that his gelding wasn't as foot-perfect as he normally is but was delighted with the way in which he battled to victory and revealed that the son of King's Theatre will now have a well-deserved rest before coming back for a crack at some big prizes in France.

"He is a very accurate jumper, he enjoys it and tries very hard although he landed right on top of the third fence and he nodded a bit at one or two others, so he wasn't quite foot-perfect," said Hobbs.

"The problem is this is the race he can win because it is a conditions race but he is rated 150 now, which he has never been before. He has got better opportunities out in France in the spring. He wants good ground and he might well have a break now until the spring."

Jockey Richard Johnson was quick to praise his mount for the manner in which he got back into the race following his third fence blunder.

"We had a bit of a scare at the third - he was a bit brave and landed on top of it - but he is just such an honest horse," said Johnson.

"I am not even sure that he was really sparkling today but he just wants to please and tries really hard.

"He has been to France in August and he has had quite a long campaign already compared to a lot of horses. He wants good ground and I am pretty sure that he will have a winter break now because he has done very well already this season. I am sure the cross country race at The Festival is a target and he will probably be entered in the Grand National."

Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase
£25,000 added, 5yo plus, 3m 7f, Class 2
11 ran
Going: Good, Good to Soft in places

Balthazar King
P J Hobbs
R Johnson
11st 8lbs
5 - 4
Uncle Junior
W P Mullins
Mr P W Mullins
11st 8lbs
8 - 1
1 length
Any Currency
M Keighley
Ian Popham
11st 5lbs
28 - 1
5 lengths
Diamond Harry
Nick Williams
J Reveley
10st 10lbs
11 - 2
4 1/2 lengths
Chicago Grey
G Elliott
D N Russell
11st 8lbs
15 - 2
Short Head
Sire Collonges
P F Nicholls
Ryan Mahon
11st 8lbs
9 - 1
1 length
D P Murphy
Mr P Gahan
11st 5lbs
100 - 1
11 lengths
Zest For Life
E Bolger
Ms N Carberry
11st 5lbs
20 - 1
19 lengths
Quiscover Fontaine
E Bolger
R P McLernon
10st 10lbs
12 - 1
23 lengths
Gullible Gordon
P Bowen
Donal Devereux
11st 5lbs
33 - 1
Viking Blond
N A Twiston-Davies
Sam Twiston-Davies
11st 2lbs
20 - 1
Uncle Junior
© Caroline Norris
Uncle Junior

Cross-country specialists were to the fore in this Glenfarclas-sponsored contest, in which course winner Balthazar King proved just too strong for Uncle Junior.

The latter was chasing a hat-trick of victories in the race, and rider Patrick Mullins said: "He travelled great, jumped great and just met one too good on the day. He really loves this place, although he travels on and off the bridle and you have to let him do what he wants and then ride him in the last half mile.

"I love him - he's a great horse and hopefully we will be back here in March."

Early on, Mullins tracked the Richard Johnson-ridden winner into a divided fence, at which Balthazar King made a shocking blunder that should have unshipped his rider and distracted the pursuing Uncle Junior.

Mullins said: "My lad's bombproof and very safe, so I was in no trouble, but I was kinda hoping Richard might get a soft fall!"

Any Currency
© Racehorse Photos
Any Currency

Any Currency was third for trainer Martin Keighley. The 10-year-old made his debut in this type of racing at the Festival in March and could become a force with more experience. Keighley said: "He's run in eyeshields recently, but we thought we'd try a hood and cheekpieces today and they really worked. He's often got worked up and wasted energy before races, but today he was very calm with the hood on and ear plugs.

"He ran a cracker and so I just hope the handicapper doesn't stick him up too much."

Keighley runs Champion Court in tomorrow's feature race, the BetVictor Gold Cup. Of that horse he said: "After he beat Menorah here in April we decided to turn him away, give him a summer at grass and come back for the Paddy Power with a fresh horse. He's had a racecourse gallop, he seems in top order, and now all we need is a bit of luck.

"We're very hopeful because we couldn't wish him to be in better form at home. He likes the track and the ground, and the trip is right, so he ticks all the boxes."

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