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Monday, 21 February 2022

Easysland

 

At the time of writing, Easysland recently suffered his first defeat in eight cross-country steeplechases, when only fourth of seven finishers, at odds-on, in the Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Chase at Cheltenham in November 2020. However, in his defence, the six-year-old gelding had not been seen in public since winning the conditions version of the same race, the Glenfarclas Chase, at the Cheltenham Festival in March 2020, so almost certainly needed the run on his reappearance.


Indeed, following the impressive, 17-length victory over dual Grand National winner Tiger Roll at the Cheltenham Festival, Easysland was mooted as a potential Cheltenham Gold Cup contender. However, prior to his most recent defeat, Frank Berry, racing manager for owner J.P. McManus, had already stated that, while the Cheltenham Festival was the main objective for Easysland, he would be aimed, once again, at the Glenfarclas Chase, rather than the Gold Cup. Granted that Easysland fell three times over regulation obstacles earlier in his career and is still inclined to make the odd mistake, that may prove to be a shrewd decision for the time being.


Currently clear favourite for the Glenfarclas Chase at 9/4, Easysland could make those odds look very generous indeed by the time March 2021 rolls around, especially with his old rival Tiger Roll never travelling or jumping with any fluency when pulled up on his reappearance. With the possible exception of one-time Cheltenham Gold Cup favourite Presenting Percy, now in the care of Gordon Elliott, it is difficult to see which horse, if any, could possibly dethrone him.



Monday, 20 December 2021

Politologue

 

Currently the co-seventh highest-rated steeplechaser in training, according to Timeform, Politologue, now a nine-year-old, has been a regular visitor to the Cheltenham Festival since 2016. However, until March, 2020, the best he had managed in four attempts was a 1¾-length second to Altior in the 2019 Queen Mother Champion Chase.


On his racing reappearance in 2019/20, Politologue was beaten, albeit not far, by Defi Du Seuil, who was in receipt of 3lb, in the Shloer Chase at Cheltenham in November. The pair met again, at level weights, in the Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown Park the following month, with Defi Du Seuil once again coming out superior, to the tune of 18 lengths.


However, following that second defeat, trainer Paul Nicholls contacted owner John Hales and asked permission to send Politologue directly to the Queen Mother Champion Chase without a preparatory run, so that he arrived at the Cheltenham Festival very fresh. Hales agreed and, when March rolled around, Politologue was sent off 6/1 second favourite for the Queen Mother Champion Chase behind Defi Du Seuil, who had since added an impressive victory in the Clarence House Chase at Ascot to his winning tally.


In the hands of Harry Skelton, Politologue was soon jumping well at the head of affairs and drew clear in the closing stages to win, unchallenged, by 9½ lengths. By contrast, 2/5 favourite Defi Du Seuil was never travelling well and trailed in fourth of the five runners, beaten 13¼ lengths, with trainer Philip Hobbs unable to offer an explanation for his poor performance.