A high-class field of 16 runners will line up for the second hunter chase of the season, as the Bluegrass Hunter Chase, takes place at Down Royal on St. Stephen’s Day and it could well be one of the best run in Ireland for some time.
Former Irish Gold Cup winner Edwulf will make his hunter chase debut here and is looking to follow up on his impressive debut success between the flags where he came home six lengths in front of his rivals at Loughrea.
The ten-year-old son of Kayf Tara brings some high-class track form to the race as a former Irish Gold Cup winner and he will once again have the assistance of Derek O’Connor.
Arctic Skipper is already a two-time winner this season, following a number of tough victories in open company, however they have come in a number of small-field races, ensuring Vincent Halley’s former Grade two winner remains something of an unknown quantity in the Hunter Chase sphere.
He was able to get the measure of former Grade 1 Cheltenham Festival victor Black Hercules, who was returning from a long absence, when they met at Boulta.
With that run under his belt, and with Patrick Mullins riding at Limerick where he will be aboard Faugheen in the Grade 1 Novice Chase, it is Declan Lavery who will look to get the now ten-year-old back into the winner’s enclosure for the first time since he won the JLT Novices’ Chase at the Festival in 2016.
Last season’s Champion Hunter Chaser Ucello Conti is sure to strip fitter for his seasonal bow at Ballindenisk when he was under the guidance of well-known agent Anthony Bromley’s son Ben Bromley, and the son of Martaline won the Joseph O’Reilly Hunter Chase at Fairyhouse back in April.
It Came To Pass makes the long trip from Lombardstown and he is the only runner in the limne-up to have won a hunter chase this season following his success at Cork in November with Maxine O’Sullivan aboard on the day for her father Eugene O’Sullivan.
The father and daughter pairing once again combine here.
Burning Ambition has already won around the Down Royal hunter chase course back in March. The son of Scorpion also brings some good hunter chase form to the table having finished runner-up in both the Aintree and Punchestown contests in the spring.
The field is completed by All Hell Let Loose, Billaway, Coastal Tiep, Dylrow, Marinero, Oscar Contender, Val De Ferbet, Venitien De Mai and Walshestown.