In the latest of GG’s Cheltenham Festival previews, Karl hedley (@Karlhedley1) analyses the main contenders in the Foxhunter Chase and gives us his latestCheltenham tips
This race is run over three-and-a-quarter miles and only amateur jockeys are eligible to ride in it. Typically, you want a horse who has performed well at the track before and It’s all too easy to be tempted into backing former classy handicappers, but it’s worth remembering that they are competing in this sphere for a reason and it may be best to side with those who have built up formidable records in hunter chases and point-to-points.
Here are four runners who have genuine claims in the race this year and and one ante-post bet for you to consider
Hazel Hill is back to defend his crown after winning this in decent style last year, but he was rather disappointing when beaten all too easily by Minella Rocco at Wetherby on his most recent start.
At the age of 12, he may prove more vulnerable this time around and he could be usurped by an up-and-coming rival.
Seems to be peaking just at the right time and is more than capable of reversing form with last year’s conqueror Hazel Hill. Owned, and likely to be ridden by David Maxwell, this ten-year-old won his most recent hunter chase by 23 lengths.
He knows every blade of grass around Cheltenham and sees out this trip to good effect. It is hard to see him out of the frame given his jockey and there should be better to come.
Staker Wallace is extremely lightly raced but won his trial at Nenagh by eight lengths. There is no reason to believe he will not see out this extra quarter mile, but to date he is unproven at the distance.
He will prove popular given that he will be running in the colours of JP McManus and is trained by the brilliant Enda Bolger. While he is definitely going the right way, this may be a bridge too far and he may well need a bit more experience behind him before he’s capable of winning a race as competitive as this.
CAID DU BERLAIS
Caid Du Berlais has not stopped improving since joining Rose Loxton. He was a decent fifth in this race last year and has been impressive in his only outing so far this year at Buckfastleigh.
Will Biddick is more than likely going to ride and he will be an invaluable assistant. The horse’s record at Cheltenham is sketchy at best, though, and he will need to put in a career- best effort to do as well this time around
Karl Hedley’s big-race verdict
Although not an original selection by any means, Shantou Flyer could well prove the answer here.He will have learned a lot since last year and with no worries in relation to stamina, the ten year old commands utmost respect.
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