Cross struggles to Boyne success

GOLDEN CROSS is on course for a tilt at the Ladbrokes World Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival despite an unconvincing victory at Navan yesterday.

Mick Halford’s charge made heavy weather of landing the odds in the five-runner Grade Three McCabe Builders Ltd Boyne Hurdle.

Johnny Murtagh had to work hard on the 8-15 favourite to collar long-time leader Florida Coast in the last 100 yards, before going on to score by a length and a half with Holy Orders finishing third, 11 lengths away. Unsurprisingly, bookmakers were not impressed with VC Bet leaving him unchanged at 7-1 for the stayers’ championship, William Hill still going 6-1 and Cashmans 8-1.

Halford said: “Johnny said after the race that the horse didn’t have much company with only five runners in the race.

“He had to wake him up but he got through the ground well enough and he will be better in a more competitive race with more horses around him.

“He definitely answered the question about staying the trip and will go for the World Hurdle now, ground permitting, and I wouldn’t risk him on fast ground.

“He is very easy on himself at home and that is why he ran in the AIG at Leopardstown as I felt he need two races to get himself right.”

Church Island (7-2) staked his claim for the Royal & SunAlliance Chase with a convincing victory in the Grade Two Ten Up Novice Chase.

Coljan made the running but when he made one of his several mistakes at the fifth-last fence, Church Island jumped into the lead.

Jockey Andrew McNamara never had to get serious on Michael Hourigan’s runner, who came home six-lengths clear of American Jennie.

“The horse was not right after Christmas but he’s back in form now and the plan is to go for the SunAlliance Chase at Cheltenham,” said Hourigan.

“Before that he had been unlucky a few times. He unseated his jockey in the Drinmore at Fairyhouse and also at Leopardstown early on over Christmas. Those two races were vital to him and messed him up as he went so early on in them.

Owner Joe Craig, who also has stablemate Beef Or Salmon running in his colours, added: “It’s nice to think we might have a problem next year as both might have to clash in certain races.”

VC Bet cut Church Island to 20-1 from 33s for the Royal & SunAlliance Chase.

Mansony made all the running to win an eventful Flyingbolt Novice Chase.

Court Leader fell at the first with Barry Geraghty giving up his remaining mounts, Greenhall Rambler unseated his rider five out and Monjoyau and Tony McCoy parted company at the third-last. With the favourite Zum See unable to make any impression, Mansony (2-1) went on to score very easily by 25 lengths in the hands of Conor O’Dwyer. Logical Approach was a long way behind, coming home last of the three finishers.

Mansony, trained by Arthur Moore, was given a 25-1 quote for the Irish Independent Arkle Trophy at the Cheltenham Festival with VC Bet.

“It is nice to get him back on track and I was much happier with his jumping today,” said Moore.

“In his previous race (when sixth in the Irish Arkle) it was a bit of a disaster as we got it wrong tactically as he was closer to the pace than would have liked in a fast-run race and it all went wrong.

“I have not ruled out the Arkle at Cheltenham but I will have to talk to the owners in the next few days and see what we are going to do.”

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