St James Place Foxhunter Chase
- The ‘Gold Cup for amateurs’
- 3 miles 2 furlongs
- Lower quality horses
- All amateur jockeys
The Foxhunter gets a bit of a bad rep given the poorer quality of horses that are usually involved but I think it adds to the romance of the festival and is a brilliant opportunity for smaller-scale stables and owners to get involved. Could you imagine something similar at Royal Ascot? It adds to the unique charm of the Festival and of National Hunt racing in general. The same could be said of the Cross Country race which also receives some criticism but they are both an essential part of the experience for me.
On The Fringe will no doubt be a warm order for this and with Nina Carberry on board he has a strong chance of emulating last year’s success. I have not backed this one antepost though or in the accas for the week because I’m not convinced he will be as good as last year. His preparation race was awful and he is now 11 years old which is maybe a bit older than ideal for this. If he was a nice each way price I wouldn’t dissuade you but at 11/4 he is a bit too short for me given that we are taking his wellbeing on trust.
The one that caught my eye a few weeks back was DARK LOVER. He was off for over 18 months and has now been switched to hunter chasing where he has won two races in tidy fashion. He went in my notebook after the first of those when he beat some good old horses like Join Together and Chance Du Roy. His previous classy form over shorter distances back in 2013 (4th in the Betfair Hurdle over 2 miles and winner of a class 2 novices chase) has caught the eye and he looked like the longer trip in hunter chases was absolutely no problem at all. He definitely isn’t exposed yet in hunter chases and I think he could spring a bit of a surprise at big odds.
Already advised: DARK LOVER – 2pts e/w at 25/1