FOXHUNTER CHALLENGE CUP INFO
Date: Friday, March 17, 2022, Day 4
Type: National Hunt Chase
Distance: 3 Miles 2 Furlongs
The race was, and is, known under many names such as the Foxhunters Chase or, because of the fact that it is run over the same course and distance as the Gold Cup but is for amateur jockeys only, the Amateur Gold Cup.
That course and distance is an extended three miles and two furlongs around the New Course with 22 fences to clear, this year’s event being worth £45,000.
Qualification for this race is a little more convoluted than for other Festival events. Being that this is a hunters’ chase, runners must have won at least two open point-to-point races, finished first or second in another hunters’ chase or have won one point-to-point and finished in the first two of one hunters’ chase with all contenders required to be five years of age or older.
As is the case with many Festival races, it is a little early to get a firm commitment from bookmakers regarding Cheltenham 2022 ante post betting, or for that matter from trainers regarding who may be aimed at the race but there are a few well established markets out there already.
None of the current crop of amateur jockeys can claim to have come close to dominating this race, as while the likes of Sam Twiston-Davies and Bryony Frost are still around they have long since moved on and up to the professional ranks.
The most successful trainer in the Foxhunters is also still kicking about though and that is Paul Nicholls, the Ditcheat handler having taken this four times between 2004 and 2018 and it’s possible he’ll be back with one or two contenders in 2022.
Aside from the trainer and jockeys we can of course use the profiles of previous winners themselves to help us pick out any trends, these areas perhaps being the ones to concentrate on:
This is a tricky one, as the form numbers given above will include point-to-point races but you won’t always have that information available, making it look on paper as though a lot of the Foxhunters contenders have not been racing when in fact they will be race-fit.
9 of the last ten winners of this race were placed last time out which is important, while all ten were placed last time out or the time before showing that horses in this sphere simply don’t show up in bad form and take this event.
While a few slightly younger animals took the race in the early 2010’s, six out of the last 10 winners have been aged 10 or 11 and that seems to be ideal for this race, lending even more credence to the fact we think Shantou Flyer may usurp the now 12-year-old Hazel Hill.
While form needs to be strong as we’ve discovered, this doesn’t always shine through in the SP’s with winners coming at all sorts of prices from 13/8 favourite right up to 33/1. If we’re right that those aged 10-11 will have an advantage though, then the average SP of winners of that age is a little more settled at just over 9/1.
Older horses may well be juicy prices as bookmakers will be convinced that something younger can overtake them, but a good 10 or 11-year-old who is in strong form and is around 5/1+ in the market should be kept on side.
We’ll never get tired of pointing out that the 2022 bookmaker offers, especially for new customers, were huge and offered massive bonuses or money-back deals for punters that even managed to make an impact on the gambling industry as a whole.
Upon producing their reports, the Gambling Commission even declared these deals during Cheltenham week as a reason the overall gambling yield was down year-on-year in 2020 but with more and more competition being added in the bookie ranks, firms will still be fighting each other for our business and that’s what we like to see!
We hope that the major firms will at least regurgitate some of the great offers from last time year when the 2023 Festival rolls around, including Coral’s non-runner money back special on all Cheltenham races and Paddy Power’s Cheltenham special of up to £10 money back in cash if your first bet loses.
At this point, the ante post market is open to a lot of change but given the type of horses involved it remains one of the steadier ones to bet on, Hazel Hill unsurprisingly being the one for money right now with over 37% online bets going his way.
As we get closer to the off however these markets will fluctuate so be sure to get on to your horse before the prices begin to crash, especially with a ‘non-runner, no bet’ deal if you can find one to give yourself some extra insurance.
When the official declarations are made for the Foxhunters on Wednesday March 11th, we will then know the final field, the likely ground conditions and crucially our each-way terms meaning we can pick out a much more solid final bet in a race that is bound to give us a very fair shout at grabbing a nice Cheltenham winner.
Despite challenges emerging left, right and centre, it was the strong form coming into the race of Hazel Hill that held sway in the market for the 2019 edition of this race, Philip Rowley’s contender being backed from 9/2 down to 7/2 favourite just before the off.
He subsequently went on to justify those odds, giving his many backers very few moments of worry as he jumped well for the full three-and-a-quarter mile trip and pulling clear by four lengths at the death to give his trainer a massive Cheltenham Festival success.