It Came To Pass will face a maximum of 23 rivals as he bids to defend his crown in the St. James’s Place Festival Hunters Chase at the upcoming Cheltenham Festival.
Eugene O’Sullivan’s charge was an emphatic ten-length winner at last year’s Festival when leading home a 1-2-4 for Irish trained horses with Billaway and Staker Wallace finishing second and fourth respectively and that pair also feature on the entries.
It is last year’s runner-up Billaway who heads the market for this year’s renewal after a dominant campaign which has seen him notch up victories at Down Royal and Naas in recent months, however with Cheltenham authorities recently confirming that amateur riders would not be participating at this year’s Festival, there is a whole new dimension to this year’s race.
The Irish entries this year also includes the Gordon Elliott-trained pair of Kruzhlinin and Mighty Stowaway, whilst Seán Doyle has entered Solomn Grundy and Enda Bolger could also be represented by Stand Up And Fight who was once a leading contender for the 2019 renewal.
The British hopes principally rest with the Paul Nicholls-trained Bob And Co following his 17-length victory under his owner David Maxwell in mid-February, whilst Red Indian represents Kelly Morgan and was also a last time out wide-margin winner.
The nine-year-old was a 15-length winner of a Ladies Open at Alnwick back in mid-December.
Billaway – 3/1
Bob And Co – 5/1
Staker Wallace – 11/1
It Came To Pass – 12/1