Glenfarclas Crystal Cup
Cheltenham 15:00
£40,000 guaranteed,
5yo plus,
3m 6f 37y, Class 2  
Friday 15th December 2023


1 Latenightpass 3/1F
2 Francky Du Berlais 14/1
3 Fameaftertheglory 16/1
13 ran Distances: 4l, 1½l, hd
Time: 8m 29.07s (slow by 41.07s)

Latenightpass, adept in point-to-point and hunter chase circuits under the guidance of trainer Tom Ellis and rider Gina Andrews, emerged as a contender for the Randox Grand National spotlight.

Notably victorious in the 2022 Foxhunters’ Chase at Aintree, the 10-year-old shifted gears after a fourth-place finish in the spring defense of his crown.

Under the new direction of Dan Skelton, Latenightpass showcased promise in his cross-country debut at Prestbury Park, finishing second to Foxy Jacks.

Reunited with Andrews as the 3-1 favorite, Latenightpass delivered a convincing performance, surging past Francky Du Berlais by four lengths after the final obstacle to secure the Glenfarclas Crystal Cup.

Skelton said: “I thought coming away from last time that he acquitted himself very well but, to be fair, I don’t really know the horse that well.

“Tom (Ellis) trains him and, throughout all this, Bridget (Skelton, Gina Andrews’ sister) has done all the work on him.

“It has just been my name on the licence. He has been a massive addition to the team. Not all of them take to it, but he did.”

Asked about a tilt at the Grand National, the trainer added: “I’d say it is blindingly obvious (to have a go). I wouldn’t say he was superior there, as you have the likes of Galvin and Minella Indo, who you meet off level weights at the Festival.

“I think it is very acceptable to come back for the Festival and run against them without the expectation that you are going to beat them off level weights.

“I think Silver Birch ran in the cross-country race before winning the Grand National. I’m not saying we should be favourite for the Grand National, but I think he more than deserves his chance.

“He has got experience (over the Aintree fences), he stays the trip well. When you come out of hunter chases, you don’t know if you belong in a higher grade. I think he has probably now suggested twice that is the truth.”

There were also plenty of positives to take from the performance of Henry de Bromhead’s Minella Indo, with the 2021 Cheltenham Gold Cup hero appearing to relish his first cross-country experience on his way to finishing fourth under top-weight of 12 stone.

“After the schooling he had done at home, we were hoping he would put in a jumping performance like that,” said his rider Rachael Blackmore.

“He had to carry a lot of weight around there, so I thought it was a really good run. He took to those fences very well and he was a very enjoyable ride around them. 

“Henry and the Maloneys (owners) will decide if he comes back in March, but it was a really great run and I very much enjoyed riding him.”

There was a sad postscript to the race, with Gesskille – a winner over the National fences in the Grand Sefton on his most recent appearance – suffering a fatal injury.


Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Chase
£40,000 guaranteed, 5yo plus, 3m 6f 37y, Class 2
13 ran
Going: Soft, Heavy in places

1    Latenightpass 10 10-8 Dan Skelton Miss Gina Andrews 3/1F
4 Francky Du Berlais 10 10-2 Peter Bowen Sean Bowen 14/1
Fameaftertheglory 7 10-2 Gavin Cromwell Jonathan Burke 16/1
4 hd Minella Indo 10 12-0 Henry De Bromhead Rachael Blackmore 7/1
Galvin 9 11-11 Gordon Elliott Keith Donoghue 11/2
Diesel D'Allier 10 10-2 Richard J Bandey Brendan Powell 33/1
Enjoy D'Allen 9 10-9 Ciaran Murphy E Walsh 18/1
shd Wick Green 10 10-2 Ben Pauling Ben Jones 9/1
7 Didero Vallis 10 10-2 Venetia Williams Charlie Deutsch 16/1
49 Fury Road 9 11-10 Gordon Elliott Sam Ewing 18/1
1 Vital Island 11 10-2 R P O'Keeffe Mr T Power Roche 28/1
17 Volcano 9 10-2 Sheila Lewis Robert Dunne 40/1
PU Gesskille 7 10-12 Oliver Greenall & Josh Guerriero Henry Brooke 18/5