Easysland swerves Cheltenham outing on Friday

Easysland will not attempt back-to-back victories in the Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Chase at Cheltenham on Friday.

The six-year-old, trained in France by David Cottin, was surprisingly beaten on his seasonal debut when only fourth to Kingswell Theatre over the course and distance last month.

He was odds-on favourite that day despite the presence of Tiger Roll, having beaten the dual Grand National hero comprehensively at the Cheltenham Festival in March.

It looked as if Easysland, owned by JP McManus, was going to return the Cotswolds for the race he won by seven lengths 12 months ago. However, Cottin is disappointed their horse would meet the first three that day – Kingswell Theatre, Beau De Brizais and Potters Corner – on worse terms, although an unsatisfactory scope means Potters Corner also misses the race.

Celebrations for the Easysland team at Cheltenham in March
Celebrations for the Easysland team at Cheltenham in March (Simon Cooper/PA)
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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.

Potters Corner will not run at Cheltenham on Friday
Potters Corner will not run at Cheltenham on Friday (Clint Hughes/PA)

The Cheltenham race had been due to see a second run over the unique obstacles for Welsh National winner Potters Corner, as he treads a path aimed at the Grand National.

However, trainer 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.”

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