Full race preview and free betting tips for the 3.40 Foxhunters’ Chase at Aintree.
The Foxhunters’ Chase represents a unique opportunity for amateur riders to experience the Grand National fences at the Aintree Festival. The race is always a competitive affair and regularly throws up surprise winners, as we saw last year when 100/1 shot Tartan Snow claimed victory.
Last year's victor lines up once again, as does the runner up – Cool Friend. Both horses are gallant warriors who should give it their best but both might be vulnerable. Tartan Snow (16/1 bet365) is now a 14 year-old and his age must surely be catching up with him. Jockey Jamie Hamilton gave the horse a peach of a ride last season, and you couldn't get a better replacement this year than Derek O'Connor who, if able to coax the horse back to a similar level of form should have a good spin. However, it will be a huge ask to repeat the result and personally I can't see another victory.
As of yet, Cool Friend (20/1 Stan James) hasn’t shown a similar level of form since finishing runner up in last year's renewal which is an obvious concern. Jockey, and trainer, Oliver Greenall is one of the most experienced riders in the race but doesn't ride very much under rules these days. He obviously knows the horse well, but once again I'd be surprised to see him come out on top.
This year, James Hamilton has been booked by Venetia Williams for the ride on Pentiffic (16/1 Stan James) who won a Hunter Chase at Warwick last time out. The horse has never been a consistent type but this step back in class will be a benefit and the jockey booking is eye-catching.
Another horse to compete in last years contest was WARNE (9/2 BetVictor), a recent acquisition by the Waley-Cohen family. It is not often that you see the same jockey ride both the Foxhunters' and the Grand National in the same year, but Sam Waley-Cohen does it regularly. His record over these fences is nothing short of phenomenal. He won the Foxhunters' back-to-back in 2005 and 2006 on Katarino, and finished second on the same horse in 2008. In 2006 he won the Topham Chase on Liberthine, who returned to Aintree a year later finishing fifth in the Grand National. More recently he has ridden the Martin Lynch trained – Oscar Time who was runner-up in the Grand National in 2011 and who finished fourth 12 months ago. On course experience alone, you can't rule out the mount of Waley-Cohen.
A close rival of his – Mossey Joe (13/8 BetVictor) did have an entry for the Grand National but connections decided to aim him at this race instead. Damien Skehan picks up this plum ride which will be his first over the National fences, something which is sure to add a fairytale element to the proceedings if the pair are successful. Skehan has ridden this horse on his last eight starts, five of which were victorious, including his latest ride, winning on his first start for Enda Bolger in a Point to Point. There's no question that their form as a duo is fantastic but, there are question marks over whether or not this horse will take to these fences. Be reassured though, Bolger is one of the shrewdest trainers around, so will have the horse here in tip top condition.
RICHARD’S SUNDANCE (12/1 Ladbrokes) and jockey Matthew Hampton have formed a good partnership in Hunter Chases this season with a second place and a win to their names. This horse ran in some good quality contests last season, finishing ahead of the likes of Relax, There's No Panic, and Welsh National winner Mountainous at Sandown. If able to replicate that sort of form I think this horse has a massive chance. He has struggled to achieve a repeat of that performance but he looks to be slowly returning to his best, running two great races on ground that didn't ideally suit. He has apparently been pinging the national fences built at trainer Victor Dartnall's stables, and looks to be a horse on the up who could well sneak into a place here.
Another notable entrant is Earth Dream (33/1 bet365), a horse who has warmed up this season in Point to Points and who, once again, has some decent form under rules. He has had a quiet time of late, but like many in the race, he will be stepping down in class in comparison with his best form and if able to bounce back to his best will have a solid chance.
This is such a wide open contest which, like many races run over the National fences, are extremely hard to predict. The combination of WARNE and Waley-Cohen are tried and tested over these fences and their joint experience could make them very difficult to beat. There are a handful of horses that could fight for a share of the minor honours including – RICHARD’S SUNDANCE. With the ideal trip and some cut in the ground, he looks to have his perfect conditions and could well run a big race.
WARNE (WIN) (9/2 BetVictor)
RICHARD’S SUNDANCE (E/W) (12/1 Ladbrokes)
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