Cause Of Causes is looking for a fourth consecutive Cheltenham Festival victory as he bids to defend his Cross Country Chase crown.
Besides his superb Festival strike rate of three wins – all over fences – from five previous runs during the four-day spectacular, Cause Of Causes also finished runner-up in the 2017 Grand National at Aintree. It takes real stamina and toughness to stay over the marathon distances he has victories at.
On top of his best of the rest performance behind One For Arthur in the Grand National over an extended 4m 2f, Cause Of Causes is a previous winner of the 4m National Hunt Chase. The Cross Country course, meanwhile, is a further quarter-mile shorter in trip.
He is certainly fancied this Festival, with Cheltenham 2018 Betfair odds making the JP McManus-owned gelding favourite to deliver on the big stage again.
What’s quite remarkable is the Gordon Elliott trained 10-year-old has achieved all this at the limit of a horse’s endurance in spite of his breeding. Both the dam and sire of Cause Of Causes were good flat performers over around 10f.
He was bred by Flaxman Holdings Limited – an operation run by the Nirachos family in France and the USA who have enjoyed success at the Breeders’ Cup before. Cause Of Causes’ mother, Angel In My Heart, was a runner-up in the Prix de l’Opera at the Arc de Triomphe meeting at Longchamp and three consecutive Grade 1 contests at Californian tracks Santa Anita and Hollywood Park.
That’s how his racing life started out too, running on the flat in France twice as a three-year-old before his owner-breeders sold Cause Of Causes to the Timeform Betfair Racing Club syndicate. He then moved to Ireland as Elliott now oversaw his handling.
It took four starts over hurdles to get this American bred, previously French trained horse a win in the Emerald Isle. Cause Of Causes ran on for a creditable third on his British debut in a Grade 3 handicap at Cheltenham in November 2012. Although then winning a Listed affair at Ascot next time out, he struggled in Newbury’s Betfair Hurdle and was only seventh in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the 2013 Festival.
That great gambler and leading Irish owner JP McManus liked what he saw, though, and purchased Causes Of Causes, with Elliott now training him for fences instead of the smaller obstacles.
He needed a lucky 13 attempts to win a chase and that came at the 2015 Cheltenham Festival in the National Hunt under crack Irish amateur jockey Jamie Codd. Without any doubt, he is the rider to have got the most out of Cause Of Causes, as all the big race wins – including the Kim Muir Challenge Cup – have come with him aboard.
If reprising the partnership again, which is likely, then a fourth Cheltenham Festival victory for Codd aboard Cause Of Causes looks on the cards.