Dartnall keen on Cross

First published in Sport

GILES CROSS continues to attract ante-post support for the Coral Welsh National as the Victor Dartnall-trained 11- year-old bids to make it thirdtime- lucky in the Chepstow marathon at the weekend.

Dartnall’s charge has been runner-up in the last two renewals of the valuable handicap chase, although he had made one previous racecourse appearance the same season on both occasions.

However, with Dartnall’s North Devon stables having closed for a few weeks due to an outbreak of equine herpes, Giles Cross goes straight to Chepstow for his first run of the campaign.

Dartnall believes that will not be a handicap as he has got plenty of work into his prolific stayer, who has won first time out in the past.

‘‘He seems very well,’’ said the trainer.

‘‘It would have been great for him to have had a prep run – he hasn’t had one, but he’s had a lot of work.

‘‘It should be his ground.’’ Coral cut his odds to 10-1 from 12-1, with spokesman David Stevens saying: ‘‘Victor Dartnall has blamed himself for last year’s second place by giving jockey Denis O’Regan instructions to kick for home early, and although Giles Cross won’t threaten Teaforthree at the head of the betting, with his record in the race it’s not surprising he’s a popular each-way selection.’’ Irish raider Jadanli is a 25-1 chance with the sponsors and is an intended runner from the yard of Paul Gilligan.

Winner of the Grade One Powers Gold Cup at Fairyhouse in 2010, Jadanli has had three runs in the last couple of months on his return since he finished third in the Thyestes Chase at Gowran last January, and is another confirmed mudlark.

Gilligan said: ‘‘That’s the plan, we intend going. Our horse will love the ground.

I’ve been setting him aside all year for this race and hopefully now he might get into the money there.

‘‘I’m happy with him and he should run well.

‘‘At the moment Alain Cawley rides him, all being well.

He’s doing well across the water and he’s local to me here at home.’’ Giles Cross and Jadanli are certain to get the testing conditions traditionally associated with the marathon contest.

The race should have taken place last week but was abandoned due to a waterlogged track.

While the course is not yet raceable, the weather is at last drying up and clerk of the course Keith Ottesen is confident the rescheduled meeting will go ahead.

‘‘It’s a beautiful day and the first time we’ve seen the sun for three weeks,’’ he said.

‘‘It will dry out. It will be a slow process at first and we may possibly get a shower tomorrow, but it is looking mainly dry with sunny spells and mild temperatures through to Saturday.

‘Unless there are any major changes in the weather outlook for the next four days, we should be raceable.

‘‘It will be heavy, very soft ground, but you would only expect that in a Welsh National.

I’d say we’ll be safe and in good shape and ready to race by then.

‘‘We’ve had just over 260 millimetres of rain in December, that’s more than a quarter of the annual rainfall, and that is on top of record rainfall throughout the summer and autumn.

‘‘It’s just unbelievable the rain we had last month, but hopefully now with a few days like this we will be back on track, literally.’’

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