Not everyone’s cup of tea, granted, but the Foxhunters’ Chase market at this stage provides a couple of very attractive ante-post bets.
Last year’s winner Hazel Hill has shown his fallibility when being beaten at Wetherby at the beginning of February. What was most alarming was his tendency to shift markedly right-handed at his fences – something which reared its head slightly when winning the Foxhunters last year. It is entirely possible that race fitness will iron this idiosyncrasy out, but when you consider he is still the general favourite for the race, there must be value elsewhere.
When you consider that his nemesis at Wetherby, Minella Rocco, can be backed at 6/1 and has any amount of innate back-class to bring to the race, then I’m finding it hard not to recommend backing him.
Derek O’Connor got a lovely tune out of Minella Rocco at Wetherby, allowing the former Gold Cup runner-up to jump fluently, straight as a die, and travel with supreme efficiency. All attributes that will stand him in good stead when it comes to the nature of the Foxhunters. O’Connor will surely keep the ride, and having him on your side is worth it’s weight in gold in a race like this.
Last year’s second, Shantou Flyer, is also worth a small investment. Beaten only four lengths last year, cutting the deficit back all the way to the line. It is possible that with a slightly more aggressive ride, this confirmed stayer can turn the tables.
Shantou Flyer has joined Rose Loxton since last season, and it’s possible this could eke out a bit more improvement, given that Rose is such an integral part of the Paul Nicholls stable operation. While, he looked as good as ever when absolutely bolting up at Fakenham last week. He is simply too big at 12/1.
In a race where most people will still be concentrating on the aftermath the Gold Cup, run 40 minutes earlier, give yourself a chance to reap some returns with these two classy sorts – one of whom finished second in the Gold Cup of 2017, and the other certainly wouldn’t have been out of place in a Gold Cup.