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2021 Hunter Chase Tips – Nicholls’ challenger to overpower Irish rivals

  • We’ve published our guide to the 2021 Hunter Chase
  • This historic race takes place after the Gold Cup on day four
  • Billaway is the 5/2 favourite with Betfair
  • Bob And Co is our best bet at 5/1
  • We're also backing Salvatore each-way at 33/1
foxhunter chase cheltenham
It Came To Pass winning last year's Foxhunter Chase. (Getty)

The race that immediately follows the Gold Cup on day four of the Cheltenham Festival is the St James' Place Hunter Chase. This traditional race is known as the "amateurs Gold Cup", but due to coronavirus restrictions, no amateur jockeys will be able to partner their rides in this year's Hunter Chase.

It Came To Pass upset Billaway to win last year's renewal, and the two will renew rivalries on Gold Cup day.

2021 Hunter Chase Guide


2021 Hunter Chase Odds


Name
Odds
Billaway5/2
Bob And Co5/1
It Came To Pass8/1
Staker Wallace9/1
Caid Du Berlais10/1
Bar12/1

*Odds taken with Betfair on 9/3/21*

2021 Hunter Chase Tips – Last Year’s Top Two

Billaway was backed into favouritism for last year’s Foxhunters, with many expecting Willie Mullins to saddled his fifth winner in a row on day four of the Cheltenham Festival. Patrick Mullins’ mount didn’t jump well that day, and was eventually beaten 10-lengths by It Came To Pass.

Mullins’ charge returns to Cheltenham a year older, a year stronger, and fancied heavily in the betting again. However, his usual partner, Patrick Mullins will not be on hand to take the ride. All of his best form has come on softer ground and I don’t think he’s a fluent enough jumper to warrant such a short price at the top of the market.

It Came To Pass was a 66/1 shot when he claimed a deserved victory on day four of the Cheltenham Festival 12 months ago. Since then, Eugene O’Sullivan’s mount has been beaten twice on heavy ground which he clearly doesn’t like. Although I expect the defending champion to be very competitive on his return to Cheltenham, It Came To Pass ran really poorly last time out at Thurles and it could be worth taking him on too.

2021 Hunter Chase Tip 1 – Bob And Co

Paul Nicholls has won the Hunter Chase five times, and BOB AND CO could be the classiest horse he’s ever sent into battle. Nicholl’s ten-year-old was campaigned at Grade One level over fences in France, and in three of his four starts in Britain, he’s run up to RPRs in the 150s.

Owner, David Maxwell – who I think is brilliant for the sport – can be blamed for Bob And Co’s only defeat in Britain. Maxwell was forced to pull his free-going sort up when holding a clear lead at Warwick, having lost all the strength in his legs. Since then, Nicholl’s charge has won by 99-lengths, secured a snug victory over a decent yardstick in Alcala at Fontwell, and surged to another lengthy victory on his only start of this season at Haydock.

I like backing experienced chasers on the back of light campaigns in the Foxhunters. 16 of the last 20 winners ran in a Hunter Chase last time out, as opposed to a point-to-point, and 14 of the last 20 winners had won during that season. Bob And Co ticks all the boxes, and the fact that Maxwell – no offence intended, David – is not taking the ride will do his chances no harm at all.

paul nicholls cheltenham
Trainer, Paul Nicholls could celebrate a fifth winner in this traditional race. (Getty)

2021 Hunter Chase Tip 2 - Salvatore

With a large field guaranteed, it’s also worth taking an each-way punt in the Foxhunters. The one who stands out to me is SALVATORE.

Mel Rowley’s eight-year-old has won both his starts this season, scoring in a point-to-point at Larkhill before winning under rules at Musselburgh. Alcala went into that race as the even-money favourite, but was run-down by Salvatore jumping the last and Alex Edwards’ mount forged clear to win by two lengths.

Salvatore will be making his Cheltenham Festival debut, but did run in the Point-To-Point Championship Final at Cheltenham as a six-year-old in 2019. Edwards’ mount looked outpaced down the back-straight and was hampered badly with four to jump, but stayed on gamely up the hill and finished a never-nearer third. 

Rowley’s charge ran up to an RPR of 108 that day in 2019, compared to the 138 at Musselburgh last time out, which show’s how much he’s progressed over the last two years. In point-to-points, Salvatore has beaten classy rivals like Barney Dwan and Coningsby, and also finished just behind Shantou Flyer - third under David Maxwell in last year's Foxhunters - when giving the odds-on favourite five-pounds at the weights.

With course form under his belt and winning momentum behind him, I think Salvatore can run much better than his 33/1 price suggests.
US

Verdict

I convinced that Bob And Co is the classiest horse in this race, and he can hand Paul Nicholls his fifth Foxhunter Chase winner.

I also fancy an each-way punt on Salvatore, who ran really well last time out and looks overpriced at 33s.

2021 Hunter Chase Tip 1: Bob And Co Straight Win @500.00 at BetMGM - 20 Units
2021 Hunter Chase Tip 2: Salvatore Each-Way @3300.0 at Caesars (Sport) - 5 Units

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