In general I don’t think there’s much value in the Cheltenham Ante Post markets until the bookies start going non runner no bet, and it’s then that things start to hot up. With just three weeks to go now, it’s time to start scanning the markets for bets that will likely be shorter, and maybe much shorter on the day. One that jumps out at me is Foxrock in the National Hunt Chase on the opening day.

The National Hunt Chase is run over 4 miles and is for amateur riders. Foxrock won just a maiden hurdle last season, but has been progressive since going over fences this year. After a 2nd place finish over 2 miles 3 furlongs, he won over 2 miles 5. The ground that day was officially good to yielding, suggesting similar ground will be fine at Cheltenham despite the fact his best form is on softer.

In a slowly run grade 1 over 3 miles at Christmas Foxrock was outpaced when they quickened, before staying on well to get 3rd. He was beaten 9l by the winner Carlingford Lough, but left me with the impression that he would have gone closer had they gone a better pace.

Foxrock then ran at Naas in a grade 2, and despite getting out jumped by the strong travelling Sizing Gold he was well on top late on, and once again looked all about stamina. The ground that day was soft to heavy but I don’t think better ground is an issue, as while the bare form of his runs on heavy is better than decent ground, he also had the benefit of a longer trip when facing such conditions. The only reason he would be better on soft than say, good to soft, would be the extra stamina test it provides. That won’t be a problem when he steps up a mile in trip at Cheltenham.

Last time out Foxrock recorded a comfortable victory despite Danny Mullins doing everything in his power to get him beat. Ridding a horse that has no turn of foot, he sat quietly in a slowly run race until after the last. A slow jump at that fence seen him get past for the lead. and he did really well to battle back, and was going away at the line for 1/2l win. I’ve no doubt had he been let stride on sooner he’d have won very easily.

The last three winners of the NH Chase have recorded Racing Post Ratings of 155,151 and 153 respectively. Foxrocks last 2 RPR’S were both 146, suggesting he has little to find to be bang there. Given his progressive profile, his ability to find for pressure and an almost certain improvement for the longer trip, I think he only needs average luck to go very close. Connections have stated this is his target all along so there’s no concerns that he might go for the RSA.

I think Foxrock is going to take a lot of beating. The top price of 6/1 makes plenty of appeal, and with BetVictor going that price, and also going non runner free bet, then we should have the bet with them, just in case. The max free bet is €50 per horse but that’s better than nothing.

National Hunt Chase  – Ante Post Cheltenham 2014

3 PT Win Foxrock at 6/1 with 

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Stakes are on a scale of 0-8 points

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