St. James's Palace Foxhunter Chase Challenge Cup (Class 2)
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Foxhunters Chase Betting Tips
Amateur jockeys are the focus in the Foxhunters Chase, held this year on Friday 17th March. Also known as the Amateur Gold Cup, each declared entrant and their amateur rider must take on a distance of three miles, two furlongs and 22 fences.
The key Foxhunter Chase Betting trends are as follows:
- 9 of the last 10 Foxhunter Chases have been won by horses between the ages of 7 and 10 years old.
- All of the last 10 winners had won over around 3 miles, either under Rules or in a Point to Point
- 8 of the last 10 winners had run in the last 45 days before the Cheltenham Festival
- 8 of the last 10 winners had never competed in a handicap chase in their career
- 8 of the last 10 winners were Irish bred; the two exceptions were French & German bred
- 5 of the last 10 winners had contested the Foxhunter Chase in a previous year.
Enda Bolger, widely admired as one of the top cross country trainers, took this the last 2 years with On The Fringe – his third race win coming 19 years after his first. A top class jockey booking can make all the difference in an amateur riders race and Nina Carberry, Colman Sweeney, Sam Twiston-Davies and J.T. McNamara have all won this race within the last 10 years.
Trends Analysis: The Foxhunter Chase is a real puzzle given the necessary qualifying conditions – Cappa Bleu was making his first start under rules when winning this race in 2009. Previous 3 mile experience – and previous course experience – are both beneficial, and the trends suggest it’s best to stick to up and coming Point to Pointers or Hunter Chases rather than the bigger names who have previously competed in competitive Graded handicap chases. Enda Bolger is a trainer to keep in mind.
Only horses who have met the qualifying conditions since a set period (normally the December before the Festival) are allowed to race. Those are:
- Finished first or second twice in hunter chases OR
- Won two open Point-to-Point chases OR
- Have won one open Point-To-Point race and finished first or second in a hunter chase.
Winner of the race for the past two years, On The Fringe has been mightily impressive in this race and none more so in 2015 when winning by a staggering 17 lengths. Now a 12 year old, he is showing no signs of slowing down and despite a far from easy passage he stormed up the familiar Cheltenham hill to win the race in gritty fashion in March, going on to capture two more races last season including the Aintree Foxhunters and the Champion Hunter’s Chase at Punchestown. Enda Bolger will be going down the same route this season, confirming his reappearance at Leopardstown in February and also dismissing claims that age was taking it’s toll on this Festival favourite: “We’re not going to change anything from last year. He will go straight to Leopardstown and then we’ll try and to do it all again. We’ve had a good run with him and we’re still trying to get a bit of weight off him. I’m delighted with him. He’s a good age for a hunter. They last if they’re good and he only really has three races a year.” Versatile in terms of ground and there can be no doubts about his stamina, and if all goes to plan on preparation he has another brilliant chance of recapturing his crown.
Finishing like a torpedo in last season’s renewal, Paint The Clouds flew up the hill for Warren Greatrex and if finding his stride sooner, it is hard to say he wouldn’t have won the race. Although soundly beaten by On The Fringe again when they clashed again at Punchestown, he regained the winning thread when easily winning the Champion Hunters’ Chase at Stratford in May. Finishing third in the past two renewals of the race, Greatrex’s 12 year old seems to love Cheltenham and the stamina test that it poses and if there is a good amount of pace in the race he should be in his element. Ground versatile although ‘good’ seems to bring out his best, he should be in their fighting again for this seasons renewal and a best price 20/1 seems generous for a horse who saves his best for this race.
The familiar colours of Dr R Lambe will likely be on show again at Cheltenham as It Came To Pass will be looking to provide Jim Culloty with another memorable success at Prestbury Park. A lightly raced 7 year old, he was travelling well in last season’s renewal of the race but came to grief at three out when falling. Nevertheless it was a promising effort but it has been disappointing that he hasn’t been able to build on it, finishing last at Navan in December over an inadequate trip and then never travelling a yard when pulling up in the Paddy Power Chase. It is likely that his stamina hasn’t been tested sufficiently yet as he was travelling well at Cheltenham, and it would be wrong to write him off just yet considering he has shown promise in the past. He should still have room for improvement considering the amount of races he has raced and should progress once he is upped further in trip, and if the race is strongly run again as it was last season he could find himself in his element.
Possibly overshadowed by his rider Victoria Pendleton, Pacha Du Polder would almost certainly have challenged for the lead in the race last season if under more experienced handling. Pendleton never used the whip and he was lightly pushed out up the run in, finishing in promising fashion. Showing promise through 2016, he still remains with potential at these staying trips and possibly wasn’t suited by the ground on his latest run at Worcester in August. If getting softer ground for the race and being under a more experienced amateur, he’d have to have a good chance on the basis of last season’s run. He stays well so stamina isn’t a factor to be concerned about and he is likely to be in their pitching towards the finish, so a general 20/1 could be underestimating him.
Looking very promising last season including some good efforts in Grade 1 company, Foxrock has been steadily building his fitness for this year’s renewal on point to points and hunter chases. Comfortably winning at Down Royal on his latest start and hasn’t been disgraced in Grade 1 company in recent times, including a close 3rd in the Lexus Chase in 2015. He should appreciate dropping in class and with his stamina assured on previous runs, he’s certainly a lively danger for the race. To show his best he’d need soft ground which is a slight concern as it is far from guaranteed come March, but he is impossible to rule out and a best priced 10/1 is likely to disappear should he continue to put in good performances this season.
Unable to qualify for the race last season, Salsify has now done so with some promising runs in Hunter Chases at Gowran and Cork towards the back end of last season. Winner of the race in 2012 and 2013 in very fortunate circumstances with his main rival unseating when leading up the run in, he proved he’s still got races left in him when 4th in the Champion Hunter’s Chase at Puncestown in April ahead of Paint The Clouds. Rodger Sweeney’s 12 year old is looking to become the only horse in the races history to win it three times, and it shouldn’t be discounted as he runs well at Cheltenham as evidenced by his two previous wins over C&D. His stamina is assured and he is likely to put up a stern fight, but it has to be a concern he was pulled up in the 2015 renewal, but he should be a good Each Way angle for the race at 25/1.
Do you remember Earthmover’s success in 2004? At 13, Paul Nicholls’ stalwart became the oldest winner since Merry was involved in a dead heat in 1953 when putting four lengths between himself and Never Compromise. Rodger Sweeney’s Salsify entered the winners enclosure in 2012 and 2013 respectively.