FELIX de Giles is hoping the sacrifice of having to go into quarantine to ride Easysland in the Glenfarclas Cross-Country Chase will be rewarded with victory at the Cheltenham Festival.
De Giles, who has been based in France for the last five years, is delighted to have picked up the plum mount – although it does mean has to serve five days in quarantine both sides of his one day at the biggest jumps meeting of them all.
Easysland, owned by J.P. McManus, will be one of the bankers of the entire week, despite a below-par effort over the course and distance in November.
The seven-year-old, trained by David Cottin, is hot favourite at 11-10 to repeat last year’s victory, when he put paid to Tiger Roll’s bid to take the race for the third year running, beating the dual Grand National hero by 17 lengths.
“I’ve ridden him once before and I’ve won on him at Compiegne. I was meant to ride the stable’s other horse called Ajas. He doesn’t run now, so they decided to put me on to Easysland,” said De Giles.
Back to form
“David Cottin’s horses have been a bit ill recently, but some of them are starting to come back to form.
“I schooled him the other day. He seems in good order and everything went as planned. Hopefully Easysland travels over nicely and he can give a good account of himself.
“I might have a ride in the Coral Cup for Christian and Sophie Leech, just the two on the Wednesday as far as I know, and then I will have to head straight back to France in the evening.
“I’ve got to come over and quarantine beforehand, but I’m hoping it’s going to be a decision that pays off.
“I’ve got to do five days quarantine in England and then five back in France on my return, so it could be quite costly if the horse doesn’t win!”
De Giles, brother of Herefordshire trainer Ed, is no stranger to success at the Cheltenham Festival, having won the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle on Andytown for his then boss Nicky Henderson in 2009. “It was a long time back. I’ve had a second and third at the Festival since, so it would be nice to get my head back in front again,” said De Giles.
“It’s going fine. It’s a bit quiet at the moment, but it’s been good since I came over.”