On The Fringe Fired Up For Fox Hunters’
Aintree’s three-day Grand National meeting kicks-off in style on Thursday where the Channel 4 cameras will be in attendance for the Fox Hunters’ Chase (4.05).
Staged over the National fences for amateur jockeys, this 2m5f event has been a friend to punters down the years, with 8 of the last 10 winners having returned at 8/1 or shorter – a powerful stat considering the large number of runners. One who looks set to be at the head of the market on Thursday is On The Fringe, who arrives having won the Foxhunter Chase at Cheltenham last month (3m2f, soft).
On The Fringe To Follow-Up?
This 10yo sliced up at Prestbury Park that day, storming clear by a whopping 17l under Nina Carberry, who will be aboard once more.
That career best effort tells us that On The Fringe is still improving, and the fact he doesn’t need soft ground makes him a tough competitor on his first visit to Aintree.
As a 10yo, On The Fringe is also from the favoured “experienced” age bracket based on recent trends…
Of the last 10 Fox Hunters winners…
9 were 10-13yo’s
9 ran over 2m5f110yds or further last time
9 won 16-30% of their career chase runs
8 returned 8/1 or shorter (22%) – others were 2-13 (1%)
8 were officially rated 116-136
8 had run at Aintree previously
Warne Back To Defend Crown
The above trends show that previous Aintree experience has been an asset, bringing into play the last two winners of this race, Warne and Tartan Snow.
The latter admittedly hasn’t shown much of late, but last year’s winner, Warne, arrives having won a Point last month. Katarino won back-to-back renewals of this race in 2005-2006, and Warne is capable of emulating that feat, even if he was defeated 22l by On The Fringe at Punchestown following his win in this last May.
Jonjo Aims Magnet
But, with Jonjo O’Neill sending the improving 9yo, Twirling Magnet, for this race, there has to be a sense he has been laid out for this since falling in last year’s National. A winner of his two hunter chases over 3m, he arrives in form and should go well if coping with the step back in trip.
Another lining-up in form is the 11yo, Last Time D’Albain, who won his last two races – the latest a hunter chase over this trip at Fairyhouse (soft). Although unseated in last year’s National, he was third in the Topham over C&D in 2013, and looks set for another solid round.
Big Fella To Hunt Down Rivals
Big Fella Thanks also knows his was way around here having been fourth in the 2010 National, and enjoyed the switch to hunter chases last time when making a winning debut at this level (2m4f, heavy). He may be long in the tooth as a 13yo, but has experience in abundance.
Paul Nicholls also throws his hat into the ring with the 8yo, Pacha Du Polder, who won a hunter chase at Ludlow last month (2m5f, good). The two concerns, however, are his age and the fact he has yet to sparkle in two outings at Aintree (19th and pulled up).
It’s hard not to have been impressed by On The Fringe’s win at Cheltenham last month, and the fact he handles good ground will put him in good stead. His 22l defeat of the 2014 Fox Hunters’ winner, Warne, at Punchestown last May suggests he should have the beating of that rival once more.