Hunters for punters: four to follow for the rest of the season
With the first hunter chase of the campaign taking place at Taunton on Wednesday, here are a handful of runners to keep an eye on from the Racing Post’s team of experts.
Leading amateur David Maxwell had a number of classy possibilities at the entry stage of the first hunter chase of the season at Taunton but none have stronger recent form than Shantou Flyer, who only last March went down by just a neck to Coo Star Sivola off 152 in the Ultima Handicap Chase at Cheltenham and the following month was a leading fancy for the Randox Health Grand National, where he finally cried enough five out.
Competition in hunter chases will be nowhere near as fierce for the Richard Hobson-trained gelding and it will be surprising if he isn't a major force.
This 11-year-old has yet to run under rules, but is tough, experienced on the pointing circuit, and appears to have improved since joining Joe O’Shea this season, knocking up a hat-trick of wins on a variety of ground. Mapping out his campaign, O’Shea says: “Walrus at Haydock, Cheltenham, Aintree and Stratford – nothing easy.” Irish Anthem will be ridden by Immy Robinson, whose mother, Caroline (then Beasley), was the first woman to ride winners at the Cheltenham Festival and over the Aintree fences, thanks to Foxhunter victories in the 1980s on Eliogarty.
I'm going to keep it simple and go for Pacha Du Polder. He loves Cheltenham, is being trained specifically for the Foxhunter and has won the race for the last two years. Yes he's 12 and this may be his final go-around, but he is the one they all have to beat and is available at 20-1. All at trainer Paul Nicholls' Ditcheat stable are very fond of him and they rate him top of their pile. Given the yard's recent record in the race that means he will likely go close.
Hardly an original pick, but Stand Up And Fight has the potential to go a long way in this division. Trained by a master in Enda Bolger, Stand Up And Fight could hardly have been more impressive in following up his Dromahane success with a silky smooth display at Down Royal on St Stephen's Day. He's got some classy back form as well. Runner-up in a Grade 2 novice hurdle in 2017, he had a season to forget last term over fences but has well and truly reignited his career in this sphere. Derek O'Connor was quoted as saying this seven-year-old has the potential to be a special hunter chaser after Down Royal, and he may well be proved right.
For the freshest betting advice, based on latest going and market conditions, don't miss the Live Tipster every afternoon. Just click Raceday Live at racingpost.com or the mobile app