A field of 12 runners will line up for the second hunter chase of the season, as the Toals Bookmakers Hunter Chase, one of the first big races in the division, takes place at Down Royal on St. Stephen’s Day.
Last month’s impressive Dromahane winner Stand Up And Fight heads the line-up, as he looks to follow in the footsteps of his stablemates General Striker, On The Fringe, and Gilgamboa, by winning the race for the Enda Bolger team.
The six-year-old, who skipped his engagement at Corbeagh House earlier in the month, brings some high-class track form to the race following his runs in Graded company as a novice, and he will have the assistance of Derek O’Connor, for what will be his first start over racecourse fences since finishing fourth behind Demi Sang at Naas in January 2017.
His biggest opposition is likely to come from Sizing Coal and Kruzhlinin. The former finished third in last year’s renewal before going on to win the Joseph O’Reilly Memorial Hunter Chase at Fairyhouse later in the spring. Mark O’Hare is now aboard Jim Dreaper’s 10-year-old.
Kruzhlinin is already a three-time winner this season, following a number of very comfortable victories in open company, however they have come in a number of small-field races, ensuring the former Grade 3 winner, who is now with Gordon Elliott, has yet to be fully tested. Barry O’Neill, whose services have been called upon by both Elliott and Henry de Bromhead for a number of other interesting mounts on the day, is once again aboard the 11-year-old.
Former Paul Nicholls inmate, Coastal Tiep, has been unbeaten in two starts for the Stuart Crawford team, and he will look to bring up his hat-trick this season following earlier successes at Loughanmore and Kirkistown, with Ben Crawford once again in the place for the Jetmac Syndicate.
Cork winner Carrignagapple, and last season’s Bishopscourt Cup victor Alpha Male, are two of the other hunter chase winners among the line-up, whilst former champion point-to-point Anseanachai Cliste, who finished seventh on his return between the flags at Borris House earlier in the month, also feature in the line-up.
The field is completed by Samsara, Call Me Bubbles, Milan Flyer, Puff My Pistons and Nevada Rose.