Express Ticket For Hobbs In Foxhunter
There has been as much talk about the former Olympic cyclist, Victoria Pendleton, riding at the festival as there has been about the horses themselves during recent months, but that will come to a crescendo on the final day when Pendleton rides in the Foxhunter Chase (4.10pm).
Victory For Victoria?
As for who Pendleton will ride, then at this stage it’s shaping up to be Paul Nicholls’ Pacha Du Polder, who she partnered to win a hunter chase at the start of the month (2m4f, soft). While the pair arrive in form, Pacha Du Polder failed to run well in three outings at Cheltenham previously, and may not get to lead as he was allowed last time, hence his odds of 16/1.
On The Fringe Back For More
As for those with a more realistic chance of success, then the list is headed by last year’s winner, On The Fringe (5/2), who also followed-up by landing the equivalent race at Aintree.
This 11yo then won at the Punchestown Festival, but failed to sparkle on his return last month, though that outing would have done him some good. He should be spot-on come Friday.
Express Could Prove To Fast
One who arrives in better form is Philip Hobbs’ 10yo, Mendip Express (6/1), a winner of his last two hunter chases this year.
Both victories came over 3m, and the fact he won at Cheltenham in 2014 (3m2f) will put him in good stead for Friday.
Clouds Wants Sun To Shine
Another who knows his way around here is Warren Greatrex’s likeable 11yo, Paint The Clouds (7/1). A dual winner over hurdles here, he rarely runs a bad race having landed five hunter chases since 2014, and was third in this race 12 months ago. Beaten 17l in the mud on that occasion, he arrives in winning form having scored last month (good ground), and a drier surface this time around could see him get closer to On The Fringe.
A drier surface may not suit Henry De Bromhead’s Aupcharlie (8/1), who won two 3m hunter chases this year in the mud. Should rain fall throughout the week, then his odds may shorten, but the forecast sunshine could scupper his chance (unplaced on his last two visits here on good ground).
Culloty To Pass Winning Post Again?
Jim Culloty knows all about having winners here, and his 6yo, It Came To Pass, looks well priced at 12/1, having won on his hunter chase debut over Christmas (2m6f, heavy). He improved upon that, despite just losing out in another hunter chase last month, and remains open to improvement.
Those aged 10 or younger have won 12 of the last 13 renewals of this, which may count against the 13yo, Palypso De Creek (16/1) and 12yo, Chapoturgeon (20/1), though the 8yo, Mr Mercurial (16/1), would be interesting if money arrives for him, as he won over the C&D last April. He had a recent spin over points and represents value at 16/1.
Last year’s winner, On The Fringe, looks sure to go well despite a disappointing reappearance last month, but Mendip Express has improvement to come, has won here before and arrives in excellent form.
*Prices correct at time of publication