Leading Cross Country Chase star Easysland will not be defending his title in the race he won 12 months ago at Prestbury Park on Friday, with his trainer David Cottin deciding to send him elsewhere before coming back to Cheltenham in March for the festival.
Easysland was set to head back to Cheltenham on Friday, this time looking to put the record straight after a less than impressive performance by his standards in the Cross Country Chase in November.
David Cottin’s gelding finished 17-lengths ahead of Tiger Roll at the Cheltenham festival back in March to land the Cross Country Chase, in what was one of the performances of the meeting.
This season many thought he was the one to beat in the division again, but some punters may now be left feeling dejected having been well backed for his seasonal debut and only finishing a tame fourth around a track he seemed to love.
Cottin has explained that the horse is fit and healthy and not swerving the race because of an injury, but actually more on the basis that he believes that the handicap mark he has to deal with is very unfair and with that they are seeking another venue to give their star a prep run before March.
(Credit ATR) Cottin said: “Firstly let me report that Easysland is fit and well, and I am very happy with the horse. “Unfortunately this weekend we won’t be going to Cheltenham to run in the Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Chase as I found it disappointing that the handicapper should see fit that we would meet the winner on 4lb worse terms despite being beaten by nine lengths, the second who beat us by four lengths, also on 4lb worse terms and the third horse on 1lb worse terms.
“Disappointed not to be going to Cheltenham this weekend, as it has been on his programme for the year and while his handicap mark was left at 167 which I have no difficulty with.
“It is hard to understand that we are to meet the winner, second and third on worse terms than the last day, considering they are both handicaps.“We are very disappointed he is not going and having discussed with the owner, we had no choice. We did raise it with the BHA (British Horseracing Authority), but had no success.
“Hopefully we will be back at Cheltenham next March in good form.
Another big name that will not run in the race was the second favourite and Welsh Grand National winner Potters Corner who returned an unsatisfactory Scope on Tuesday.
Christian Williams tweeted on Tuesday: “Potters Corner returned an unsatisfactory scope following his final preparation for Friday’s Glenfarclas Chase at Cheltenham.
“He will not run and was immediately scratched from the race at the earliest possible opportunity.”