- 1:30 Supreme Novices Hurdle
- 2:10 Arkle Chase
- 2:50 Ultima Handicap Chase
- 3:30 Champion Hurdle
- 4:10 Mares Hurdle
- 4:50 Northern Trust Novices Chase
- 5:30 National Hunt Chase Cup
- 1:30 Ballymore Novices Hurdle
- 2:10 RSA Chase
- 2:50 Coral Cup
- 3:30 Champion Chase
- 4:10 Cross Country Chase
- 4:50 Boodles Handicap Hurdle
- 5:30 Champion Bumper
- 1:30 Marsh Novices Chase
- 2:10 Pertemps Final Hurdle
- 2:50 Ryanair Chase
- 3:30 Stayers Hurdle
- 4:10 Brown Advisory Plate
- 4:50 Dawn Run Mares Hurdle
- 5:30 Kim Muir Chase Cup
Foxhunter Chase Tips - 4:10pm Cheltenham
2020 Foxhunter Challenge Cup Hunters’ Chase Preview
One of the more traditional races ran at the Festival, the Foxhunter Chase was established in 1904. The race always follows the Gold Cup and is run over the same course and distance and is the richest race of its type during the National Hunt season.
The Foxhunter Chase has a habit of providing reoccurring winners, so much so that it has happened three times since 2012. Salsify, On The Fringe and Pacha Du Polder have all won it two years in succession. It’s now up to Hazel Hill to do likewise after his superb performance last year.
Hazel Hill is a 12yo now and you have to go back to 2004 and Earthmover to find a winner over the age of eleven although double figures is not uncommon. He won his two prep races last season on the way to Festival glory but this season things haven’t been as straight forward.
He started off well enough by winning a weak race at Sheriff Hutton by 15 lengths, he took it up two out that day and steadily drew clear. Next time out he went to Wetherby and bumped into Minella Rocco on a going day. It was a steadily run race and couldn’t cope with the finishing burst of Minella Rocco and went down by a length and a half.
Connections were a little concerned as he continually jumped out to his right that day and he certainly wasn’t the same horse that won here 12 months ago. As far as fitness was concerned the trainer said he had something to work on and wasn’t duly worried about the defeat here and would be spot on for the Festival.
Minella Rocco’s victory probably saved him from early retirement, prior to this season he had been in shocking form, a million miles away from his superb runners up spot in the Cheltenham Gold Cup behind Sizing John in 2017. They have tried everything and even ran in the Grand National to give him something different to focus on.
He pulled up in four races on the bounce and as a last throw of the dice went down the Hunter Chase route. He started off in a four runner affair at Warwick where the favourite Bob And Co ran away with his jockey and left an open goal for Minella Rocco, which he duly took advantage of. That was his first success since winning the National Hunt Chase here in 2016!
He then went on to beat Hazel Hill and now is firmly got his sights back on the Festival trail. Obviously on his best form he has a terrific chance but there have been soft races he has contested this season and this will be a very different kettle of fish.
Bob And Co was bought by City trader David Maxwell to give him a serious ride in the Foxhunters, his lifelong ambition is to win this race and he has certainly given himself a decent chance. By his own admission he was ran away with on debut at Warwick and has never been pulled so hard by a horse, and he has ridden a few. He remains a horse with plenty of potential and bolted up next time out Bangor, he settled better that day and looked pretty impressive.
Maxwell also has Shantou Flyer in his camp and he ran a terrific race twelve months ago to finish second behind Hazel Hill. He stayed on late that day and never really threatened the winner. This season he warmed up with a win at Larkhill and should be thereabouts.
The Irish are led by the Willie Mullins trained Billaway who is only an 8yo. He was second at Down Royal on Boxing Day behind Dylrow in a very competitive race which included Edwulf, Ucello Conti, Burning Ambition, Black Hercules and a few others.
That was a decent performance and has since followed up with a victory at Naas and reversed form with Dylrow while he was at it. That victory has just about put him to the top of the Irish challengers.
Edwulf was a top chaser on his day and it wasn’t that long ago when he won the Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown and was rated in the 160’s. Trainer Joseph O’Brien sent him hunter chasing this season and despite starting favourite on both of his starts he has yet to show he retains most of that ability. He led approaching the last at Down Royal but faded into fourth beaten 9 ¾ lengths, that form is not good enough to win this race so needs to find something.
Last years third Top Wood will be back for more, he went and won at Aintree over the National fences last April, beating Burning Ambition. This season he has been tackling regulation chases and was 2nd at Ascot in November and then only 6th in the Tommy Whittle at Haydock.
Trainer Rose Loxton has a decent string of pointers and will be hoping she gets a better run this year from her grey Caid Du Berlais. He was never at the races in this race twelve months ago but then went to Punchestown and bolted up by 28 lengths. The ground was the reason for the improvement so he will hoping the conditions suit this year. He won his prep race without much fuss and Will Biddick will ride.
An interesting runner this year is the ex-Gigginstown horse Don Poli, he was bought by owner Darren Yates to run in the Grand National last season and was trained by Phil Kirby. He was then switched to join Dan Skelton and a plan was hatched to get him qualified for this race rather than go down the usual chase route where he would be badly handicapped most of the time.
He has won his two points, both at Alnwick and has been under the banner of trainer Nick Pearce who works as an assistant to Dan Skelton and looks after the pointers on the side. He has looked pretty good and now it’s all down to the horse and see how much of his old ability he retains.Punters Lounge Tip: Hazel Hill 11/2 at Ladbrokes - Click Here To Bet
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