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Ground rules out cross-country specialist

Martin Keighley: walked the course and said ground was "raceable but quick"
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Cross-country specialist Any Currency has been ruled out of Friday’s race at his favourite course with trainer Martin Keighley not prepared to risk his stable star on ground officially described as good to firm, firm in places on the cross-country track.

Keighley took the decision after walking the course yesterday and, while declaring Cheltenham had done a good job to make the course safe, he has eyes only for festival glory in March.

“It’s raceable but it’s quick and my target is the festival, so I’m not going to risk him,” said Keighley. “He turns 14 next month and it might be his last chance at the festival, so he needed to be looked after and aimed at that day. They could not have done a better job but it’s too quick for Any Currency.”

First past the post in the Glenfarclas Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March but subsequently stripped of the race after returning a positive post-race sample, Any Currency will also bypass the Grade 3 handicap chase on Friday's card.

Keighley said: “The race on the cross-country course they lost in November will now be run on Festival Trials Day in January and that will be his prep for the festival."

Enda Bolger, who has four entries in the Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Chase, will check the course before declarations on Thursday morning and said: "I'm hearing it's good to firm and that the very firm parts are gone. We'll see what it's like in the morning but Josies Orders, Cantlow and Auvergnat are intended runners at this stage."

Willie Mullins said Alelchi Inois and Boston Bob will not be declared.

He turns 14 next month and it might be his last chance at the festival, so he needed to be looked after and aimed at that day

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