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Strong Irish contingent to take on this year renewal of the Cheltenham Foxhunters

Strong Irish contingent to take on this year renewal of the Cheltenham Foxhunters

The St. James's Place Foxhunter Challenge Cup is the amateur riders Gold Cup and the blue riband hunter chase of the season.

A capacity field of 24 runners are set to take their chance at ten past four on Friday with five Irish among the declarations.

Well represented once again, four Irish-trained horses have been victorious in the last five running's of this event, and if the market if anything to go by, have strong claims to the title this year around.  

Leading fancy Burning Ambition has been the talking horse and is the current ante-post favourite.

Bursting onto the scene with a win in a maiden hunters chase in Limerick at Christmas, the promissing seven-year-old posted a well fought second to the classy Gilgamboa at Punchestown last time out.

The Pierce Power-trained young pretender, who has clocked up five wins from seven runs in his first year of competitive action, will have to overcome his apparent lack of experience to land the spoils here.
Barry Connell's Foxrock found the aforementioned Gilgamboa too good when meeting him last time out at Thurles in January.

Foxrock was a Grade Two novice hurdle winner four years ago and a contender in graded chases when with former trainer Ted Walsh. Now in the care of Connell's stable trainer, Alan Fleming, he is sure to prefer the underfoot conditions.
Balnaslow was a very consistent sort for his connections last season, however he pulled up on his seasonal reappearance and is expected to improve on that effort here for the Graham McKeever team.
The prolific On the Fringe completed back-to-back victories in this race in 2015 and 2016, whilst also winning the Aintree Foxhunters and Punchestown Champion Hunter Chase on both occasions.

A credit to his connections, now at 13, he is the oldest horse in this year's renewal and he will have to be back to his best to feature in this competitive heat. Enda Bolger trained and rode Elegant Lord to win the Foxhunters 22-years ago for On The Fringe's owner J P McManus.
Minella For Value, a three-lengths sixth in last year's running has been somewhat overlooked by the market. The in-form 12-year-old is coming off the back of two wins in points wins at Nenagh and Kildorrey.

The ultra consistent Minella For Value has been a superb servant to the Queally family and if he can build on last year's effort cannot be over looked.
Last years' victor Pacha Du Polder takes his chance again for the Paul Nicholls yard, but he could only manage third on his seasonal reappearance in a hunters chase at Doncaster last month that was won by Warden Hill.

Leading trainer Paul Nicholls is well represented in thae race as he will also saddle Wonderful Charm, which he has put up as his best hope of the Festival.

To view all the runners click here.

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