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Darran

Fontwell Hunter Chase night

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The 2nd of the 3 Hunter Chase nights and quality wise always the weakest of the 3 however this year's meeting is especially low on quality as well as being low on runners. Hopefully though there is money to be made and I think I have spotted some value throughout the card.

5.00
Allie Beag - I thought she wouldn't be without a chance at Fakenham on Easter Monday, but she jumped terribly that day. Amazingly given how weak that race was this is even weaker. Was beaten 16L when 3rd behind Legal Ok at Northaw which wasn't the worst effort in the context of this race. Jumping has to be a concern though given how bad she was at Fakenham and Fontwell is a tough jumping test.
 
Follow The Paint - Her form is nothing special yet she still has the best form in the race. She did win a race two starts back, but it was a very weak affair. Was also 3rd at Northaw like Allie Beag although I think she put in a better effort. She was running a decent enough race when falling at Kingston Blount in March which was possibly looking like her best run of the season. I do think her form from last season was better than what she has done this time around, but this is a dreadful contest and she won't find an easier opportunity to win under rules.
 
Here Comes Molly - Can't even win a maiden and would be a shock winner here.
 
Italian Symphony - Another who can't win a maiden and surely wont be winning this.
 
Sweet Lady Jane - Won a back end maiden last June where the 2nd was a long term maiden so that shows you how strong the form was. I am slightly wary though because of connections and she hasn't been since so impossible to know how much she has improved if at all. Percentage call is too oppose though.
 
Summary - This is a desperately bad race, but Follow The Paint's form easily makes her the one to beat. Allie Beag is the main danger, but she will need to jump much better than she did at Fakenham. Sweet Lady Jane needs to improve a hell of a lot to win, but at least she has won a race unlike the other 2 and there is obviously a bit of scope for improvement.
 
Follow The Paint 2pts @5/4 with William Hill and BetVictor
 
5.30
 
Steeles Terrace - I didn't think he was without a chance in the Fakenham Hunter Chase last week, but he was a non-runner in the end. That could be a blessing in disguise though as this looks an easier race to me. He proved last year he handles course and distance when he bolted up and then ran a cracker at Stratford behind Caryto Des Brosses. He was behind that rival again 2 starts back, but that was a good effort given how good that horse is.
 
For 'N' Against - Struggling to get his head in front this season and that form leaves him with plenty to find in this.
 
Play The Ace - Never really thought he stays 3m and it looked that way again at Perth on his first start back in a Hunter Chase. Having said that he was well beaten in the end and he would need to come on for it which he could well be capable of doing given his previous form.
 
Witness In Court - No surprise he was well beaten by Monsieur Gibraltar at Kempton on his first start since October 2017. He had nothing to beat in behind so I don't think he achieved a great deal. Being sent a long way though and Gina has been booked so certainly wouldn't rule him out.
 
Summary - I'm going to go with youth here and back Steeles Terrace. He has come up against some good rivals this season and run with credit and as we know these conditions really suit him. I think Play The Ace is the main danger as he will prefer this shorter trip and it was only 3 starts back he ran 2nd off 134 at Market Rasen. Witness In Court wouldn't be a surprise winner either.
 
Steeles Terrace 2pts @ 7/4 with Bet365 and most others
 
6.05
Desert Retreat - N/R
 
Kit Barry - I never thought I would see the day when Kit Barry was favourite to win a Hunter Chase and not only that, but he is long odds on as well. Look he is a solid enough horse and consistent enough, but I can't say I fancy backing him to actually win at such short odds. The 2nd at Cheltenham was another solid enough effort and it is certainly the best form in the race, but he usually finds something to beat him.
 
This Breac - Should be 2nd favourite for me and although he was well beaten at Dingly a couple of weeks ago, he ran really well before not staying 4m. It was a return to form having pulled up on his two previous starts after winning at Ampton in March. He was a good 3rd 
 
West Lake - Was well beaten the last time he was seen in a weak race at Fakenham and was pulled up in this on his only other Hunter Chase start in 2017. The key to those efforts though is they both came on soft ground and he will prefer this quicker surface for sure. Been off for 15 months so that is a concern, but could hardly have found a weaker race and if he is fit he wouldn't be out of this.
 
Summary - Kit Barry could easily win this, but I just can't back him at odds on especially if that Cheltenham effort has left a mark so I am going to back the two outsiders This Breac and West Lake both of whose form isn't that far away from Kit Barry's and This Breac was 3rd in a stronger renewal of this last year.
 
This Breac 1.5pts @ 6/1 with Bet365 and most others
West Lake 0.5pts @ 20/1 with Betfair and Paddy Power
 
6.40 
Obviously Monsieur Gibraltar should win this very easily. Granted he only just won last year, but he was much the best horse in the race and was just given a poor ride on the night. Dont Do Mondays was 2nd to him that night and he should fill the same spot again as he has done well again this season. He ran a superb race in the Foxhunter to finish 7th behind Hazel Hill and he has won both points since. He was 40L behind Hazel Hill that day and Kelvingrove was the exact same distance behind Hazel Hill at Cheltenham a couple of weeks ago. He never really travelled that night though and although he ran OK at Chepstow on March, I think Dont Do Mondays has achieved more this season.
 
Monsieur Gibraltar to beat Dont Do Mondays 2pts f/c
 
7.15
Wonderful Charm is now a non-runner after being found lame this morning. I just wonder if Southfield Vic might run now given how bad the race is. It is a case of waiting and seeing. Sam Red ran well to finish 3rd at Cheltenham, but that was a really tough race which will surely have left a mark. Adrenalin Flight was a well beaten 3rd in this last year and isn't the most consistent horse although he has won a couple of times this season. In theory Sam Red should finish 2nd, but if that Cheltenham race has left its mark then Adrenalin Flight might be up to finishing 2nd but we shall wait and see what happens to Southfield Vic.
 
 
7.50
Ballycash - Has a double squiggle in the pointing form book and isn't even rated which tells you all you need to know.
 
Carrig Dubh - An easy winner last time although he didn't beat an awful lot. The 2nd to Timmie Roe at Siddington in March is for me his best piece of form this season. 
 
Dandan - Won a match at Larkhill, but the 2nd seems to have injured himself during the race. Other race he won this year was a 3 runner race at the same venue in March where the 2nd bled. Some of his placed form isn't bad although last season he finished a few lengths behind Carrig Dubh. Last run in a Hunter Chase was 3 years ago when he was 5th behind Sam Cavallaro at Cheltenham which wasn't a bad effort. At least we know he handles quick ground.
 
Earth Leader - Clocked the quickest time of the day when winning at Stafford Cross last time where Ballycash was 1 and a half fences behind in 3rd. His two previous wins both came over 2m4f . He bolted up when winning his maiden at Ston Easton in March when winning by 30L and he clocked a faster time than the other race over 2m4f on the card. Didn't show a great deal for Paul Nicholls in 3 starts last year, but has progressed nicely this year and looks primed to run a big race on his return to rules.
 
Legal Ok - Was 2nd to Dark Mahler on his penultimate run under rules back in 2017 and pulled up either side of that. He seems to stay better now as he usually pulls hard and makes the running. Has won 2 of his 3 points this season and his handicap mark of 90 looks on the low side based on what he has done. He returned in April at Barbury and basically had a solo because of how clear he was at all stages of the race and he won by 30L. The 2nd home won his next start. He then dropped back to 2m4f but bumped into a good one from the Tom Ellis yard and he couldn't get an easy lead. On Bank Holiday Monday he went to Northaw and hacked up in the quickest time of the day. We know he handles quick ground and I suspect he will play catch me if you can.
 
Poyntzpass - Struggled in 3 points this season and was poor under rules last year.
 
Steel The China - Won a really bad Restricted at Charing on Easter Saturday and likely to struggle here.
 
Un Huit Huit - Trainer won this last year, but it would be a massive shock if he were good enough. Maiden he won was a match on Easter Saturday and then he was well beaten at Northaw. On times it suggests he has a lot to find with Legal Ok.
 
Summary - Carrig Dubh and Dandan have place claims, but the winner should either be Earth Leader or Legal Ok. I certainly respect the formers chances, but at the prices Legal Ok has to be the play as this track suits front runners and if he gets into a nice rythem out in front then he could be hard to catch.
 
Legal Ok 2pts @ 3/1 with Bet365, William Hill and BetVictor
 
8.25
O Maonlai - Strangely doesn't seem to be seeing out the 3m trip in points this season and it has be disappointing that he hasn't won one yet. Was 2nd in a couple of Hunter Chases at Exeter and Newton Abbot last season and in the context of this race they are strong pieces of form. Two concerns here are if he is in the same sort of form this season and Tamby Welch is very inexperienced. The other issue is the price as he is very short in my opinion as much as he is the horse I would have as favourite.
 
Red Inca - Very lucky winner last time as he was the only finisher and he wasn't going to win. As much as this is weaker than the 2 Hunter Chases he has run in before at Cheltenham he has struggled in both. The Maismore and Bitterley efforts prior to the Paxford win weren't bad efforts, but even so I don't really fancy him for this.
 
Scorpion Star - Had no chance at Kempton 3 weeks ago and although this is weaker I still don't think he acheived a great deal in that. His last win was in a selling hurdle at Newton Abbot in October off 79 which shows the sort of level he is at.
 
Tusa Eire - Ran in the Cheltenham Bumper in 2011 but has only run 8 times since. Went missing at the end of 2012 until running in 3 Irish points 4 years ago. Needless to say he would be a very surprise winner.
 
Exclusive Rights - Just denied in this by Numbercruncher last year and she really does deserve to win a race under rules given how well she has run on occasions including in a couple of handicaps last summer off 93. Granted she ran terribly at Sedgefield last time, but something was clearly not right that day and you can always forgive a horse a bad run. She is more than capable of winning this.
 
Summary - Has to be Exclusive Rights for me in this. If she can bounce back from the Sedgefield effort then she is more than capable of landing the spoils. O Maonlai is the only realy danger in my view, but he is odds on at the moment and that is too short for me. At the current prices I think she can be backed e/w.
 
Exclusive Rights 1.5pts e/w @ 6/1 with William Hill

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Quick look back at Wednesday's action. Southfield Vic was very strong in the market and had little issue in getting the better of Road To Riches. He's got better as the season has gone on and I guess they might decide to go to Stratford with him although there is another Hunter Chase at Newton Abbot in the same week. I know Road To Riches has won a Hunter Chase this season, but it was a bad race and the 3rd at Aintree sticks out like a sore thumb in his form. This might well be the last we see of him as hard to think he is going to be up too much as a 13yo. Surely this is the last time we have seen Dineur who looks a shadow of the horse who won at Aintree. I guess there might become a time he gets so low in the handicap though that they might try him in one over the summer first.

There were a couple of strange gambles at Perth. During the day Greyed A was backed and then closer to the race Wicked Spice was really well backed into single figures. God knows what form book people were looking at to want to back either of them. Greyed A didn't run too badly to be fair although Wicked Spice ran as badly as his form suggested he would.

It was all very easy for Mr Mercurial though and he more than proved why he was such a good bet even at odds on. He even ran all the way too the line and Will seems to have finally got to grips with how to ride him. He looks set to go to Kelso for the final of this series although that is over 3m2f which I am not sure he really stays, but his class might see him home anyway depending on what he is up against. He's 7 from 20 under rules now and has been some hunter chaser over the years. Black River tried, but not surprisingly was found wanting. He wont always bump into a Mr Mercurial though.

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Good luck with Legal Ok , Darran - personally i couldnt have the horse jumping a fence at this distance.

I have to play this Earth Leader , just cant see the horse getting beat at this trip - think the horse will make all.

 

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Granted if I had made loads of money I might have viewed it differently, but what a waste of time that card was.

Follow The Paint didn't jump well but she got the job done in the end. Allie Beag who had actually jumped much better than at Fakenham gave it a good go, but needless to say the form isn't worth anything. Surely someone with a half decent mare will go for this race next year.

Steeles Terrace never really went a yard sadly which is what the jockey told the stewards.The trainer blamed the ground saying it was softer than the official description, but I find that hard to believe. Play The Ace was poor as well and stopped quickly. Wells De Lune did the same on this card last year and then had an amazing summer so I wouldn't write him off just yet as the Bowens might be able to turn him around. Witness In Court was gutsy in the finish, but given he only had For 'N' Against to beat the form is poor.

Sadly This Breac couldn't quite hold off Kit Barry, but you can see why I wanted to take him on at such short odds. To be fair Kit Barry deserves his day in the sun, but he surely isn't going to find such a bad race again.

Monsieur Gibraltar won with ease as expected. For some reason the Sky pundit thought he would be a short price favourite for the big one at Stratford, but he wouldn't have a hope in hell of staying 3m4f. He also disappointed at that meeting last season and I think they would be better calling it quits for the season. Dont Do Mondays lost his chance of finishing 2nd when he was shortened up at the 4th last.

Was right about Adrenalin Flight being capable of finishing 2nd and Southfield Vic clearly was feeling the effects of running yesterday, but had nothing to beat really so he won very easily in the end. Newton Abbot and Stratford were mentioned as possibles after the race.

I thought Earth Leader was the most impressive winner on the card. I know Dandan and Legal Ok helped set it up by going such a fast pace and Dandan ruined Legal Ok's chances, but I don't think it would have changed the result if he had got an easier lead. Bryan gave the winner a very sensible ride as he sat of the fast pace. He is clearly a progressive horse and he is the only one, bar the previous two winners, who is worth taking from the meeting. Having said that if Legal Ok was able to get an easier lead in a summer handicap he would be worth backing.

Some training feat to get Tusa Eire to win after so long off. The trainer seems a bit of a character as well judged on the interview after the race. He wasn't unbacked either so clearly some people knew. It was a bad race though which certainly helped. The fav looks well worth taking on should it ever run in a hunter chase again. Sadly Exclusive Rights ran just as she did at Sedgefield. She might well just have had enough of racing.

Last year Fontwell was a great night and Cheltenham and Stratford didn't go so well, so hopefully it is a reverse this season and Stratford can be a great end to the season. It will certainly be a better card to watch than the dire stuff served up tonight.

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Seen a comparison of the winning times from last year and it would actually suggest that the ground was slower than the official description. Doesn't help matters at all when this happens.

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He is what Exclusive Rights trainer had to say about the ground.

Sadly a totally wasted day out to run on over watered ground yet again at a hunter chase meeting!

And yes it's easy to be criticised and questioned why we weren't a non runner then, but sometimes when you are at the races it's really difficult to make a decision not to run when the official going has not changed !!!!

It's such a shame to have to rely upon the correct ground, some horses go on anything but Exclusive Rights is a quick ground specialist and sadly for her and her owners we have yet again fallen victim of an over watered track!

I am beginning to wonder why NH tracks do seem to over water for our amateur meetings and whether there are any statistics to suggest on quick ground us amateurs become dangerous?
I would like to have a pretty large bet that there are not any such statistics!

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