1pt win The Last Samuri @6/1, 16:10 Cheltenham, Wednesday

Wednesday’s Cross Country Chase looks a proper race this year with the trend of increasingly classy horses and larger yards targeting it continuing.

Last year’s winner Cause Of Causes, a three-time festival winner who went on to place second in the Grand National, is back to attempt a fourth consecutive festival win but won’t have his favoured spring ground.

Big runs in Grand Nationals can leave permanent marks on horses and blindly following his festival form could be expensive given this season’s evidence, particularly without the aid of good ground.

His stablemate Tiger Roll lines up and shares many of those characteristics as he’s a dual-festival winner, having completed the highly unusual Triumph Hurdle-four miler double – and also shows his best form on good ground, so it’s hard to be sweet on him either.

It was a slog on Tuesday with heavy featuring in the official going and, while the cross country course is usually drier than the main course, it would be optimistic to expect good ground given all the rain.

I’m very keen on the chances of THE LAST SAMURI for Kim Bailey, who takes a big drop in class after a decent run in the Cotswold Chase and an excellent second in the Becher Chase at Aintree.

He too has finished second in a Grand National and, unlike his market rivals, will relish any ease in the ground.

He’s the highest rated in the field and could be too classy against this opposition, so I suspect the 6/1 quotes might be on the generous side.

1pt win The Last Samuri @6/1, 16:10 Cheltenham, Wednesday

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