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2019 Foxhunter Chase tips – 16/1 and 25/1 outsiders to watch at Cheltenham Festival

Jonathan Vine in Tips 5 Mar 2019
A view of the runners in the Foxhunter Chase.

Our expert takes a look through the betting for this traditional chase on day four of the Cheltenham Festival and provides readers with his tips.

Once the winner of the Gold Cup winner has finished lapping up the applause in the winners’ enclosure, the Prestbury Park patrons will pay tribute to the origins of the sport of horse racing, welcoming a strong field of hunter chasers onto the track. The Foxhunter Chase has been run at Cheltenham every year since 1904, providing amateur and conditional jockeys with an ideal platform to showcase their talents on the biggest stage in the sport.

It’s not unusual to see JP McManus’ colours sitting at the head of the betting for the Foxhunters, with Stand Up And Fight (4/1 William Hill) the latest to carry the tag of favouritism into this race for the superpower owner. Enda Bolger’s seven-year-old has been impressive since the switch to hunter chases, winning on two of his three starts. I just fear he may be a little inexperienced for the challenge at hand and the shorter Foxhunter Chase at Aintree may be more to his liking.

Despite taking part in three Grand Nationals, Ucello Conti (6/1 Ladbrokes) had never won during his time with Gordon Elliott. Connections decided at the start of the season that hunter chasing would be more appropriate at this stage of the eleven-year-old’s career and Ucello Conti has taken to the switch well, winning all three of his appearances this term.

The British challenge this season could be headed by Joseph O’Shea’s Road To Rome (7/1 Betfair), who’s enjoyed a faultless campaign to date. O’Shea’s nine-year-old is unbeaten in eight starts, the final four of which have come in good quality hunter chases and Road To Rome travels to Cheltenham on the back of a superb 30-length triumph at Haydock last month.

Hazel Hill (7/1 William Hill) has also secured some impressive results of late and Philip Rowley charge will be looking to extend a 15-race winning streak when he makes his Festival debut. Last time out at Warwick, Hazel Hill comfortably saw off some capable challengers in Mr Mix (66/1 Coral) and Grand Sefton runner-up Brandon Hill, so Rowley’s eleven-year-old certainly has the quality to contend here.

Shantou Flyer (9/1 Ladbrokes) was heavily backed to get the win that day, but could only finish a distant fifth as Hazel Hill powered to victory. Richard Hobson’s chaser, who came within a whisker of winning the Ultima last year, then opened his account in this sphere with two routine wins in four-horse races and could be a danger around a course he clearly likes.

Of those at the top of the market, Road To Rome could be the one to side with. However, I’m never comfortably siding with a horse sitting on single-figure odds in a race as open and unpredictable as the Foxhunters, so I’ll be looking further down the betting to find a couple of big value punts.

Paul Nicholls has been on fire this season and has saddled the winner of the Foxhunters on four occasions. While I doubt Pacha Du Polder (25/1 Coral) will be able to complete his hat-trick on what will likely be his swansong, WONDERFUL CHARM (16/1 William Hill) could ensure the Foxhunter Trophy returns to Ditcheat for the third year on the bounce.

With Katie Walsh in the saddle, Wonderful Charm came up a nose short of Pacha Du Polder at Cheltenham in 2017, handing Nicholls a famous 1-2 in the Foxhunters. The ground was probably a little on the soft side for Wonderful Charm last year, where he was pulled up well before the end. Nicholls’ eleven-year-old then enjoyed a solid summer campaign, landing a decent prize at Fontwell before placing third in the Champion Hunters Chase at Stratford in May.

Last season, Wonderful Charm warmed up for the Festival with a narrow victory over a modest field. This time around, Nicholls watched his chaser destroy some quality opponents at Doncaster, beating Boa Island and 137-rated Forgotten Gold by 55 lengths. Wonderful Charm is clearly in excellent form and the ground at Cheltenham this year is sure to be more favourable. At 16/1, he offers plenty of value and could go one better than his runner-up finish two years ago.

With as many as four paid places likely to be up for grabs, it’s well worth looking for another selection in the Foxhunters. Caid Du Berlais (20/1 Betfair) romped to victory at Punchestown last year, after finishing fifth here at Cheltenham and could be a contender on his first start since. Former Ryanair runner-up, Southfield Theatre (33/1 Coral) has to be respected in this sort of company, but I prefer the look of HAYMOUNT (25/1 William Hill).

While in the care of Willie Mullins, Haymount secured some good results in staying chases. Most notably during his novice campaign, where the ten-year-old stayed on stoutly to claim third behind Tiger Roll and Missed Approach in the National Hunt Chase. 

Since being transferred to a point-to-point yard, Haymount is unbeaten, winning two decent races for his new connections with top amateur, Gina Andrews in the saddle. Haymount was holding his own when running against horses like Coney Island, Bellshill and Anibale Fly when under rules and that third in the National Hunt is a very decent piece of course form. He’s a ten-year-old with plenty of experience at a high level and plenty of class to boot. Haymount could go very well.

For coverage and betting analysis of every race on Gold Cup day check out our Cheltenham day 4 tips section. Ensure you get the best value from your Cheltenham betting with our free bets, packed with all the latest bookmaker offers. 

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