The course and distance are the same, and whilst the class of runner and prize money may be a notch or two below that of the Gold Cup, for the amateur riders taking part, the Cheltenham Festival Hunter Chase means just as much.
This is a race for amateur jockeys and is often referred to as the Amateur Gold Cup, though in 2021 professional riders will compete in their place. Bryony Frost won this race prior to turning professional when riding Pacha Du Polder to victory for Paul Nicholls in 2017.
The highlight of the season for these jockeys is always a big field affair which makes for a cracking spectacle and betting heat.
Next Race: Friday, 19th March 2021
The next race is scheduled to run on 19th March 2021. The race info, trends and tips shown below will be updated for the next renewal once the final declarations have been made.
Last Run: 13th March 2020
- Winner: It Came To Pass
- SP: 66/1
- Trainer: Eugene O'Sullivan
- Jockey: Maxine O'Sullivan
Run over the Gold Cup trip of 3m2 ½f, this Class 2 contest offers the amateur riders the chance to race for £45,000 in total prize money, with the ground expected to be good to soft on the day.
|Going||Distance||Grade||Prize Money||Runners||EW Terms|
|Soft||3m2½f||Class 2||£45,000||24 Runners||1/5 1-3|
Foxhunter Chase Betting Tips
Note: The following tips are from 2020. Tips for the next renewal will be added once the final declarations have been made.
It would be easy for the St James's Place Foxhunter Chase to suffer from a case of being after the Lord Mayor’s show but each year it entertains the Cheltenham fans immediately after the Gold Cup. This hunters’ chase takes place over the exact same course, distance and fences as the Gold Cup but includes some unique qualification criteria that leads to a unique race.
In order for horses to qualify for the 2020 Foxhunter Chase they must have finished inside the top two of a hunters’ chase or have won two open chases at point-to-point meetings (or a combination of the two) since October 2017. That guarantees that all of the horses in the field have recent enough experience of this sort of race.
Given that many horses come to hunters’ chases fairly late in their careers, it’s no surprise that winners of this race tend towards the older ages. Each of the last five renewals were won by horses aged either 10 or 11 but Salsify and Cappa Bleu both won as seven year olds inside the last 12 renewals.
This is a tough test of stamina, especially on the physically demanding New Course which has, at this point, played host to almost two full days of racing. Those who have yet to prove themselves capable of getting the trip and who have not had a run inside the last five or six weeks will find it tough to win.
The other thing to remember about the Foxhunter Chase is that the horses are all partnered by amateur jockeys. Not all amateurs are equal and it can often pay to side with a jockey who has amassed plenty of experience, particularly over fences.
MINELLA ROCCO (6/1)
The Foxhunter Chase is a real race for specialists and we’ve seen plenty of horses successfully defend their title in recent years. The market is pretty sweet on the chances of Hazel Hill becoming the latest horse to follow up a win 12 months ago with another victory in the 2020 renewal but he may just find one or two too good this time around.
Minella Rocco is one of the favourite’s competitors who has all the class required to earn the win. The 10 year old has amassed plenty of Cheltenham Festival experience over the years, including earning a win alongside amateur jockey, Derek O’Connor, in the National Hunt Chase Challenge Cup in 2016. He will partner with O’Connor once again on Friday which is a real positive as he is considered one of the very best amateur jockeys around.
Whilst Minella Rocco doesn’t quite have the same point to point experience of many of his rivals in the Foxhunter Chase, he has proven himself to be a reliable and top class competitor time and time again. Minella Rocco got the better of Hazel Hill when they met at Wetherby in February so it would be no surprise were horse and jockey both able to prove their class on Friday.
CAID DU BERLAIS (12/1)
As mentioned above, horses more often than not won’t go hunter chasing until towards the end of their careers. When owners make the decision to send their horses hunter chasing, they’ll often make a change in trainer to somebody who is used to getting the best out of horses in this style of race.
The owners of Caid Du Berlais made exactly that decision at the end of 2017. He had run well during his time under the watchful eye of Paul Nicholls but was entrusted to Rose Loxton who is a specialist trainer when it comes to point to points and hunter chases. That choice instantly paid dividends with a win in his first point to point race at Larkhill and his progression in that new sphere was such that he’s run in the last two Foxhunter Chases.
In 2018 he ran well enough, finishing fifth but he was unable to complete the race last year when he was pulled up. He quickly put that disappointment behind him with a win at Punchestown and maintained his unbeaten record in point to points with victory in his sole outing to date this season. Caid Du Berlais looks to have a very good chance of contending again at the Cheltenham Festival.
Alcala is another horse who fits the bill when looking for an experienced chaser who has some high class form in his past. The 10 year old may be in the autumn of his career but his recent showings in hunter chases show that he still has more than enough left in the tank to give connections plenty to shout about.
Although he wasn’t seen until January this season, Alcala has been kept busy since the turn of the New Year. The first of his three point to point starts in the lead up to Cheltenham ended with disappointment after he fell but all was quickly forgiven as he won a month later at Haydock. He was second only to Bob And Co who is a classy performer in this sphere so Alcala has obvious each way appeal at 16/1.
Foxhunter Chase Winners
|2020||It Came To Pass||66/1||Eugene O'Sullivan||Maxine O'Sullivan|
|2019||Hazel Hill||7/2||Philip Rowley||Mr Alex Edwards|
|2018||Pacha Du Polder||25/1||Paul Nicholls||Miss Harriet Tucker|
|2017||Pacha Du Polder||16/1||Paul Nicholls||Bryony Frost|
|2016||On The Fringe||13/8||Enda Bolger||Nina Carberry|
|2015||On The Fringe||6/1||Enda Bolger||Nina Carberry|
|2014||Tammys Hill||15/2||Liam Lennon||Mr J J Smyth|
|2013||Salsify||2/1||Rodger Sweeney||Mr C J Sweeney|
|2012||Salsify||7/1||Rodger Sweeney||Mr C J Sweeney|
|2011||Zemsky||33/1||Ian Ferguson||Mr Derek O'Connor|
About the Foxhunter Chase: The Amateurs Tackle the Gold Cup Fences
The Cheltenham Festival is exactly as one might imagine – a true festival of horse racing. All aspects of National Hunt racing are celebrated including the tradition of allowing amateur jockeys to race against each other.
That is the case with the Foxhunter Chase which is a massive opportunity for amateur riders to grab the headlines at Prestbury Park.
After the Lord Mayor’s Show
Amateur jockeys always view the chance to ride in the Foxhunter Chase as a real honour as it is the race that that immediately follows the Cheltenham Gold Cup, for many the biggest race of the entire season. Moreover, the Foxhunter Chase is run over the exact same distance of three miles and two and a half furlongs and over the same 22 fences.
The chance to see another race over the world famous New Course at Cheltenham ending with that daunting climb up the hill guarantees the crowds hang around to watch the Foxhunter Chase. It also demands a lot from the runners and riders.
Before we get into what it takes physically to win the Foxhunter Chase it’s worth pointing out the mental toll that running at the Cheltenham Festival exacts on the horses.
They are the real stars of the show and get a lot of attention as soon as they arrive at Prestbury Park. It is understandable that some of them will react badly to the crowds and the noise and fail to give their best, especially if they have an inexperienced jockey on board. Punters would be advised to have a look at the character of the competitors before parting with any of their hard earned.
A Race for Specialists
The championship races at Cheltenham basically come down to class. There are specific characteristics needed to win them but each is designed to decide who is the best horse in a particular division. It’s not quite as straightforward with the Foxhunter Chase.
The trainers who send their horses to the Foxhunter Chase have normally come to the conclusion that they have done all they can in handicaps after either succeeding or failing to make an impact amongst graded company. Additionally, many Irish horses who developed a formidable point-to-point record at home have gone on to do well.
The British Horseracing Authority became concerned that the reputation of the hunter chases in general and the Foxhunter Chase was being diminished as big name trainers had begun dropping in horses capable of competing at a higher level into the field. So, they introduced changes in 2018 mandating that horses who contest hunter chases for licensed trainers were subsequently only able to run in hunter chases for the remainder of the season.
Those changes were broadly welcomed, especially by the many people in horse racing who hold hunter chasing close to their heart. It hasn’t stopped the biggest trainers from entering horses into the Foxhunter Chase but should maintain the competitiveness of a race which has a reputation for providing thrilling finishes.
A list of the Hunter Chases run in the UK between January and April can be found here.
Capitalise on the Recent Trend of Multiple Winners
The qualifying criteria for the Foxhunter Chase demands that horses must have finished in the top two twice in hunter chases or have won at least two point-to-points. This only serves to hammer home the idea that this is a race for specialist hunter chasers as does the recent trend of multiple winners.
Since its introduction to Cheltenham in 1904 a handful of horses have won the Foxhunter Chase twice. So far, no horse has won it three times but that could change as multiple winners are becoming increasingly common. Below is a table showing the two time winners, including three such horses between the 2012 and 2018 editions.
Double Foxhunter Chase Winners: 1946 – 2020
|Horse||Trainer||Jockey||First Win||Second Win|
|Pacha du Polder||Paul Nicholls||B Frost / H Tucker||2017||2018|
|On The Fringe||Enda Bolger||Nina Carberry||2015||2016|
|Salsify||Roger Sweeney||Colman Sweeney||2012||2013|
|Earthmover||R Barber / P Nicholls||J Tizzard / R Goschen||1998||2004|
|Fantus||Richard Barber||P Curling / T Mitchell||1995||1997|
|Double Silk||Reg Wilkins||Ron Treloggen||1993||1994|
|College Master||Laurie Morgan||Laurie Morgan||1961||1962|
|Whinstone Hill||Bobby Brewis||Bobby Brewis||1958||1960|
|The Callant||Stewart Wight||John Scott-Aiton||1956||1957|
List of UK Hunter Chases
Below is a full list of UK Hunter Chases between January and April 2021.
UK Hunter Chases: January – April 2021
|Ludlow||21/1/21||Behind Bars H.Ch.||Class 5||£5,000|
|Hereford||1/2/21||Hereford Open H.Ch.||Class 5||£4,600|
|Warwick||3/2/21||Willoughby De Broke H.Ch.||Class 6||£3,000|
|Wincanton||4/2/21||Stewart Tory Memorial H.Ch.||Class 6||£3,000|
|Musselburgh||6/2/21||Scottish Foxhunter H.Ch.||Class 4||£7,000|
|Wetherby||6/2/21||Racing TV H.Ch.||Class 6||£3,000|
|Ludlow||10/2/21||Chase Meredith Memorial H.Ch.||Class 5||£5,000|
|Ffos Las||11/2/21||Welsh Foxhunter H.Ch||Class 4||£6,600|
|Bangor||12/2/21||Sam Allwood H.Ch.||Class 6||£3,000|
|Catterick||15/2/21||pointtopoint.co.uk H.Ch.||Class 6||£3,000|
|Lingfield||15/2/21||Starsorts H.Ch.||Class 6||£3,000|
|Leicester||18/2/21||Dick Saunders H.Ch. (Div 1)||Class 5||£4,600|
|Leicester||18/2/21||Dick Saunders H.Ch. (Div 2)||Class 5||£4,600|
|Fakenham||19/2/21||William Bulwer Long Memorial||Class 5||£4,600|
|Kelso||19/2/21||racingtv.com H.Ch.||Class 5||£5,000|
|Haydock||20/2/21||William Hill H.Ch.||Class 3||£10,800|
|Wetherby||23/2/21||Racing TV ‘Grassroots’ H.Ch.||Class 6||£3,000|
|Doncaster||24/2/21||Virgin Bet H.Ch.||Class 6||£3,000|
|Fontwell||28/2/21||champagnepiaff.com H.Ch.||Class 6||£3,000|
|Leicester||2/3/21||Cottesmore ‘Grassroots’ H.Ch.||Class 5||£4,600|
|Leicester||2/3/21||pointtopoint.co.uk H.Ch.||Class 3||£10,800|
|Musselburgh||3/3/21||William Hill H.Ch.||Class 5||£5,000|
|Wincanton||3/3/21||Dick & Sue Woodhouse Memorial H.Ch.||Class 6||£3,000|
|Ludlow||4/3/21||Racing TV H.Ch.||Class 5||£5,000|
|Catterick||10/3/21||Jack Berry House H.Ch.||Class 6||£3,000|
|Leicester||12/3/21||Thrusters H.Ch.||Class 5||£6,130|
|Stratford||15/3/21||pointtopoint.co.uk N.H.Ch.||Class 6||£3,000|
|Cheltenham||19/3/21||Foxhunter Chase||Class 2||£33,750|
|Fakenham||19/3/21||Robert Hoare Memorial H.Ch.||Class 6||£4,000|
|Carlisle||21/3/21||Cocklakes H.Ch.||Class 5||£4,600|
|Ludlow||25/3/21||Ludlow Gold Cup||Class 5||£5,000|
|Newbury||26/3/21||BJP Insurance H.Ch.||Class 6||£3,000|
|Ascot||28/3/21||Ascot Open H.Ch.||Class 5||£5,000|
|Fakenham||30/3/21||Queen’s Cup H.Ch.||Class 5||£4,600|
|Warwick||30/3/21||Air Wedding H.Ch.||Class 6||£3,000|
|Ludlow||31/3/21||Magnus-Allcroft Memorial H.Ch.||Class 5||£5,000|
|Exeter||6/4/21||Totnes & Bridgetown H.Ch.||Class 6||£3,000|
|Aintree||8/4/21||Foxhunters’ H.Ch.||Class 2||£34,000|
|Kelso||11/4/21||Buccleuch Cup||Class 4||£6.600|
|Exeter||16/4/21||Totnes & Bridgetown H.Ch.||Class 6||£3,000|
|Stratford||18/4/21||Stratford ‘Grassroots’ H.Ch.||Class 6||£3,800|
|Wincanton||18/4/21||John Dufosee H.Ch.||Class 6||£3,000|
|Hexham||19/4/21||Hexham Racecourse H.Ch.||Class 6||£3,500|
|Kempton||19/4/21||NFRC Roofing H.Ch.||Class 5||£4,600|
|Sedgefield||20/4/21||Mansion Bet N.H.Ch.||Class 6||£3,000|
|Ludlow||21/4/21||Eddie Map Memorial H.Ch.||Class 5||£5,000|
|Exeter||22/4/21||Exeter Nv.H.Ch.||Class 6||£3,000|
|Chepstow||23/4/21||Dunraven Bowl Nv.H.Ch.||Class 5||£4,600|
|Cheltenham||30/4/21||Notgrove H,Ch.||Class 4||£6,600|
|Cheltenham||30/4/21||Hunt Staff Benefit H.Ch.||Class 4||£6,600|
|Cheltenham||30/4/21||Junior Jumpers H.Ch.||Class 5||£4,600|
|Cheltenham||30/4/21||Cheltenham Club H.Ch.||Class 5||£4,600|
|Cheltenham||30/4/21||Intermediate H.Ch.||Class 4||£6,600|
|Cheltenham||30/4/21||Mares’ H.Ch.||Class 4||£6,600|
|Cheltenham||30/4/21||Mixed H.Ch||Class 4||£6,600|