We are now three races from the end of the 2016 Cheltenham Festival. This is the St James's Place Foxhunter Chase, one of the oldest races at the Festival. The first running of this race was way back in 1904 and was won by the 6/4 favourite Palmy Boy.
The top stables from both the UK and Ireland usually have runners here and last years winners On The Fringe will almost certainly start as this years favourite.
It is worth noting that all of the last eleven winners have been aged 10 or younger.
ON THE FRINGE
This horse is the reigning champion of the Foxhunter Chase and although On The Fringe was way below his best on his seasonal reappearance at Leopardstown in January he was definitely start as favourite this year. That was a strange old race back in January as two horses blasted off in front and were clear by 20 lengths almost all the way around. The winner was among that pair and the chasing group gave themselves too much to do. On The Fringe looked like challenging but ran very wide off the final bend and that cost him any chance. I'd be slightly concerned about that form at Leopardstown but maybe you can forgive him that run as he was off the track for 281 days. After watching last years winning performance again I'd have to say that if this horse shows anywhere near that level of performance again then he'll be extremely tough to beat. On The Fringe is an 11 year old now and that is against the age trend in the last eleven years in this race.
If On The Fringe cannot repeat last years performance then expect Mendip Express to go very close. This horse is new to hunter chases this season and was beaten only three quarters of a length in the Becher Chase last campaign. If he runs to that kind of form in this then he may just be a class above all of these given his official rating of 146 which is superior to all of his rivals.
This ten year old Irish Point-to-Pointer and hunter chaser is rated 141 over fences. He won his last hunter chase by 15 lengths at Down Royal and although he beat a few week rivals he couldn't have done it any easier. Marito ran in a Point-to-Point at Oldtown last time out and finish runner up behind Aupcharlie.
PACHA DU POLDER
Victoria Pendleton has been given the green light to ride in this race and even though I feel she'll have a tough task on her hands to win I feel that she'll be a popular each way choice. Personally I'm not sure if I'll be having any money on her but I'd just like to wish her the very best of luck!