Horse Racing - Balthazar King will not defend Cross Country Chase

Defending champion Balthazar King will miss the Cross Country Chase on the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival on Tuesday.

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Horse Racing - Rain could thwart Balthazar King's National tilt
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Balthazar King ridden by jockey Richard Johnson wins the Glenfarclas Handicap Chase on Centenary Day, during the Cheltenham Festival.

Trainer Philip Hobbs has decided that the soft going is unsuitable for the chaser, who beat A New Story by a head a year ago.

Hobbs told the Racing Post: "Balthazar King doesn't run tomorrow because the ground is too soft for him.

"We would have loved to have run him as he's in very good form but his main aim is the Grand National and he's best when fresh."

Arabella Boy and Outlaw Pete are now vying for favouritism for the renewal, run over three miles and seven furlongs.

The highlight of day one is the Champion Hurdle but there are six other intriguing races - you can follow all the action live from 1pm on Tuesday.

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