Cross Country Chase Trends


Joe Glayshier | @joeglayshier

Cross Country Trends 2024

A love-hate race for many horse racing fans, the Cross Country is a unique test pitting horses against an array of obstacles to negotiate.

The 3 mile 6 furlong trip asks for an established stayer, but the array of obstacles calls on runners to be concentrated, sure footed and consistent for the entire marathon trip.

The Cross Country Chase is a race that everyone has looked forward to over the last few years with superstar horse Tiger Roll taking the event in 2018, 2019 and 2021 and we have some trends that will look at whether a horse can follow in his footsteps.

Stats One

Only two winners of the last 12 renewals of the Cross Country Chase at Cheltenham have gone back-to-back the year after, and those runners come from the Gordon Elliott yard. This race has been a gold mine for Elliott, who has won this five times in the last 12 years.

How could we forget three-time winner in the last 12 years Tiger Roll, who went back-to-back in the Cross Country Chase in 2018 and 2019. The gelding won this contest again in 2022 before being denied by the next back-to-back winner of this, Delta Work. Delta Work has won this for the last two years, and looks set for another bid for victory here in what could be the hat-trick for Elliott.

Stat Two

11 of the last 12 winners have been aged eight or older, with David Cottin’s Easysland breaking the trend by winning the 2020 Cross Country by 17 lengths to second-place Tiger Roll. The oldest horse to win this race would be Elliott’s Tiger Roll, who was 11 when winning this in 2022 and could’ve been another winner when he was 12 a year later, but he was denied by stablemate Delta Work.

Last year’s winner Delta Work is now an 11-year-old, meaning he fits the trend of being eight or over but only one horse has managed to win this when aged 11 or over in the last 12 years. However, we know Elliott is strong in this race and will have his gelding in top shape for the hat-trick bid.

Stat Three

The Cross Country is a bit of a strange one when it comes to seasonal form. Of the last 12 horses to win this 3m 6f chase, half of those had one or more win during that season. 2015 winner Rivage D’Or had not even run once during that season before winning the Cross Country when priced at 16/1 in the hands of Davy Russell.

Delta Work won once last term before triumphing at the festival, claiming success in a three-mile chase at Punchestown in November 22’. However, the year before, where he won the 2022 Cross Country, he hadn’t managed to record a victory leading up to the festival – but it did not matter in the end.

Stat Four

Over the last few years, this race has become a stepping stone for a shot at the Grand National, especially for Gordon Elliott’s leading staying chasers. Tiger Roll went on to win the Grand National for successive years, coinciding with his back-to-back wins in the Cross Country Chase at Cheltenham. A tough feat that will be extremely hard to top.

His stablemate Delta Work’s next aim has been the Grand National over the last couple of years, finishing third in 2022 but unseating his rider in last year’s 4m 2f contest won by Corach Rambler. Six of the last 12 winners of the Cross Country have gone to the Grand National next time out, and it again looks to be 9/2 shot Delta Work’s next couple of runs once again.

Stat Five

It’s time to talk market prices. Ten of the last 12 winners of the Cross Country have been in the top three of the market prior to the race. That could bode well for this year’s current favourite Minella Indo, the 11-year-old who is already a festival winner having won the Gold Cup in the hands of Rachael Blackmore back in 2021.

The last horse to win this race outside of the top three in the market was Rivage D’Or, triumphed in 2015 when priced at 16/1. Delta Work, Galvin, Latenightpass and Stattler are all outside the top three in the betting at the time of writing.

Value Angle - Stattler

Yes, I’ve gone on about how a lot of the last 12 winners were in the top three of the betting, and although I could really see Delta Work going close for the hat-trick at 9/2, I couldn’t help but choose my value pick to be Willie Mullins’ Stattler.

He has struggled in graded chases of late but looks to be a stayer, as he proved when winning the National Hunt Chase over 3m 5f here at the festival back in 2022 by eight lengths to Run Wild Fred.

He was second to Allaho in a G2 at Thurles not so long ago but could only manage fourth last time out in a weak race at Punchestown over three miles. He has always looked like a stayer and you’d back Mullins to get him right for the Cross Country if he ended up here so an each way bet at 10’s would be the play her