Guest Post: It’s All About The (Hunter) Chase…

Hunter Chases…all you need to know…

Introduction from me…

Hello it’s Josh here. I just thought I would introduce the below article and say a few things about it. You are going to really enjoy this one..

A few weeks back our very own Nick Mazur (comments regularly, has a habit of tipping some decent winners also if you hadn’t noticed!) emailed me to ask if he could post a comment on the blog advertising a service he thoroughly enjoyed last year and would be signing up to again this year. 

Nick knows that I don’t like advertising any old crap (there is a lot out there), that I can be quite picky over other services I discuss on the blog and I can get agitated if I don’t know who is behind them. (I think that stems from all that money I lost in my first year at Uni,all I had to go on was a glossy brochure,but the results were very good I tell you!!) Nick had nothing but praise for this service and to be blunt, if he trusts the guy behind it, then so do I. And trust is an important factor in this game of ours. Without his email, this fantastic article wouldn’t be here. So, cheers Nick. 

To be blunt, following Nick’s email, I thought ‘what can I get out of this’. I never like missing an opportunity 🙂 My primary goal was to get us some quality free blog content, on an area of the game that is a mystery to me. Something both you and I could learn plenty from.

So, that’s what follows.

The below article is written by Hunter Chase expert Darran Pearce.

He also appears on ATR from time to time.

And, he just loves Hunter chases. 

Anyone that sends you 3500 words on a topic (I was hoping for 1000-2000 maybe) without being paid, clearly has a passion!

So , what follows?

Now, it is a long article, so make yourself a hot beverage and settle down. You can read it in chunks if you so wish. 

Darran discusses – 

  • A general introduction, to get us in the Hunter Chase mood.
  • Advantages of betting in Hunter Chases
  • His personal punting highs, and a low. (a cliff horse for sure!)
  • Three horses to follow (notebooks at the ready,esp for the two ‘showpiece’ foxhunter races at Cheltenham and Aintree..)
  • Short-cuts to finding hunter chase winners
  • A bit about Darran’s Hunter Chase Service

 

Before handing over to Darran, I should just point out that there is no affiliate commission here. I know we live in a skeptical world but I have no financial interest if you sign up or not.

The purpose of this piece is to provide you with something interesting to read. Something new. Something different.

As Darran said to me it will be interesting to see if I get anymore sign ups, but like I say I am just trying to increase the interest on hunter chases ,so as long as people engage in it,that will be enough for me’

There speaks a man who just wants more people to be interested in Hunter Chases. 

I thoroughly enjoyed reading what follows, and I know you will too.

With that said, over to Darran..

**

I am pleased to say that Josh has invited me to write a blog post about hunter chases, which is the area of horse racing that I specialise in. In fact I now rarely bet on other racing and usually when I do it’s because a horse who has been pointing or hunter chasing is now running in a handicap of a generous mark. Now I am sure there will be a few of you reading this who think I must be crazy to want to bet on hunter chases given they are ridden by amateurs and for the most part trained by amateurs as well, but there are a few reasons why I firmly believe they are the most profitable types of races to bet on, as long as you are prepared to put in the homework.

 

The major point is the lack of knowledge of point to point form from the general punting public. Most punters wouldn’t have a clue what the form is worth and have probably never heard of the tracks the horses have been running at. The Racing Post will print pointing form for horses running that day, but it is pretty basic. I am writing this on January 17th and a horse called Big Georgie ran in a handicap at Exeter. His last run was in a point-to-point at Chaddesley Corbett on December 27th. The information you get is the trip, the going, the type of race, the time, how many runners, the first 3 home plus the finishing position of Big Georgie and the distances. Crucially though the only form comment you get for the run is ‘never nearer’. Now this is a fairly extreme case as not all are as brief as that, but you won’t get anywhere near as much detail as you will get for a run under Rules. On this occasion the first two home, Vedettariat and Sybarite are probably known to people as they are horses who have run under Rules, but if we look at Big Georgie’s previous run a horse called Full Trottle was the winner. Now that horse has had all bar one of his lifetime starts between the flags, so the chances are all but a pointing enthusiast will have even heard of Full Trottle so wouldn’t have a clue if it was a good run or not to finish 4th behind him. The Racing Post website used to be even worse than this as it didn’t list any British pointing form, although this changed around April time last year so you can know get the full result of a horse who has run in points and is now running under Rules, but you will still only get the very basic form comments.

 

I can understand that people who only have this limited information to use for hunter chases would be very wary of betting on them and I think I would be as well. So you might wonder how easy is it to actually find out some more details? Well it is pretty easy, but you will have to pay for it. First of all you might be wondering how can I watch a replay of Big Georgie’s run last time. I’m sure I don’t have to tell readers how to watch video’s of Rules form and it is accessible free of charge online. For pointing videos though you have to pay £80 for a year’s access to the official pointing website, pointtopoint.co.uk. Even then not all meetings are covered so you might not even be able to watch the race you want to. I should add that some meetings not on the official website are put up for free on You Tube, but percentage wise it is a pretty small amount. If you want an in-depth form book though you well really have to spend some money as it costs £225 a season. It is called the Loose-Leaf and each week during the pointing season you get sent the last weeks set of results. The depth of form comments is really useful on the whole and you will get little extra snippets, like a horse will come on for the run, a jockey had their first ride (which in Big Georgie’s last run was the case), a horse was unlucky and plenty more. The only way you can have that information is by paying the £225 for it, but in my view you will certainly get that back with interest because of how good it is.

 

However the best form book is your own eyes. All Rules races can be viewed on TV as well as in the flesh, but the only possible way to view a point meeting is to actually be there. That again costs even more money and you will be looking at spending at least £10 getting into the meeting and that isn’t even including the cost of travel to get there. As good as the Loose-Leaf is, it is another person’s opinion, so if you are actually at the meeting you can form your own opinion of what the form is worth and like I say that is, as long as you are a good judge, the best possible form book you can have. Obviously very few people betting on a hunter chase either have access to the Loose-Leaf, have access to the video form or were at a meeting, so you have a massive advantage if you do. The fact that you have to spend so much cash and time and effort either going to meetings or going through the form was the main reason I decided to start charging for my hunter chase tips. For 3 years I was putting tips out for free online and putting up plenty of winners, the highlight in that time was going through the card at Folkestone’s hunter chase night in 2012. Naturally I got plenty of Tweet’s and Facebook posts of people telling me they had won plenty of money that night, which is great as I love being able to be in a position that I can help people do that. On the other hand though it got me thinking that I had put in around 7 hours going through the form and writing my preview the day before and that all other people had to do was read it and put some bets on. Obviously most days there is only one hunter chase on, but depending on numbers or how well I know the horses, it can still take well over an hour to go through the form and write a preview. Add the time spent and the cost of the Loose-Leaf, the video form and going to points together and I just felt it was right that people paid me a small fee for the privilege of my knowledge so they don’t have to do anything but read the preview and put the bets on. I was also working as a freelancer at the time and it was one talent I had that which could make me some extra income, although it was mainly just to cover costs especially as I only charged £20 for the first season back in 2013.

 

I think another big advantage of betting on hunter chases are that they are essentially conditions races (except for a handicap hunter chase at Stratford in June) so you don’t have to consider if a horse is well handicapped or not and you can base your view on what you think the best horse in the race is. Linked to this is the fact that quite a few hunter chases you can fairly easily reduce down to handful of possible winners. Obviously you do get shocks from time to time, but it isn’t very often that a horse wins a hunter chase and afterwards I think I couldn’t possibly have backed that. You also get instances of horses that used to be useful under Rules, have gone pointing and have clearly regressed, but when they turn up in a hunter chase they are still priced up as if they are the same horse that is under Rules. They are also usually pretty well backed just before the off as the general public get involved in the race because they are also basing it on Rules form.

 

**

 

Josh has asked me to talk about some punting highs and two horses, plus a race from last season spring to mind. Creevytennant might well be a name you recognise because he turned into a pretty decent handicapper and he has become one of my favourite horses. I was lucky to be at Didmarton when he made his British pointing debut (he had previously run in Irish points) when Fergal O’Brian was still training pointers. I was really impressed with his win that afternoon and he followed that up with a win at Chaddesley Corbett, beating a very good horse in Noble Ben. His next start was on hunter chase night at Cheltenham and there wasn’t a great deal of strength to the race so I was very confident he would win. I was slightly concerned about him jumping out to the right because he had done so at Didmarton, but I thought his superior ability would see him come home in front. I still sometimes go back and watch that Cheltenham win, because his jumping to the right got progressively worse during the race. The funny thing is though I was never worried that he wasn’t going to win and if you watch the race you will wonder how I could have been so confident he wasn’t jumping his chances away. I’m certain he would have won a Foxhunters if Cheltenham was right handed, but he ended up pulling up at the last when he did run in the race in 2013 although the very soft ground didn’t help his cause that day either in a race where only 4 finished. His next start came at Ascot and to this day I had the biggest ever bet I have ever had on him. Yes he was a short price, but everything looked in his favour that day and when his rivals gifted him a 10 length head start I was already counting my money because barring injury he wasn’t going to get beat after that. As an aside he apparently is going to be hunter chasing again this season and I would be amazed if he didn’t get his head in front again.

 

The second horse is one called Rumbury Grey who was trained by Steve Flook. He won a novice hunter chase at Leicester beating the horse I backed Galway Jack by a neck. Both horses were back there the following month for the big hunter chase Leicester has and I just couldn’t understand how he was 14/1 and Galway Jack was 3/1. On this occasion he beat him by 2L and it was the start of a very good afternoon. There were two other hunter chases that day and I had done a little e/w treble on my fancies and they both won at 11/10 and 5/1 to give me one of my most successful days punting. He won a couple more hunter chases and then disappointed at Cheltenham’s hunter chase night. You can always forgive a horse a bad effort, but a lot of hunter chase experts were thinking his season was done and he would have no chance when turning up at Stratford for the John Corbet Cup. On the point to point followers forum Jumping For Fun I was pretty much the only person who fancied him and so it was especially satisfying when he romped home beating Monkerty Tunkerty by 11L. There is no better feeling in racing when you believe in a horse and they then do what you hoped they would. A punting low for me was his next season. He ran in 7 hunter chases and I think I backed him in 5 of them. Needless to say the only time he won was one of those two times I wasn’t on and to just add to the anguish it came at Cheltenham’s hunter chase night!

 

One result from last season really stands out. Whilst the focus on Day 3 of the Cheltenham Festival was obviously on Prestbury Park, I was rather more excited about the hunter chase at Towcester that afternoon. It wasn’t even a race I had to spend much time on looking at form wise because I knew the majority well and I was expecting Pearlysteps to be no bigger than 4/6. To my shock whilst travelling home from work I checked Oddschecker to see he had been priced up at 7/4. I think I was in so much shock I waited until I got home to actually back him and ended up getting 6/4. I was expecting the price to collapse, but it never really did and his SP was a pretty big 11/10. I suspect that was down to it being Cheltenham so the focus was on that, but even at SP that was the biggest gift of last season and he duly bolted up by 22L.

 

**

 

Josh has asked me to give 3 horses to follow. The first one is Ask The Weatherman who is likely to be the best British hope of a Foxhunter win in March. Connections have been very patient with the horse and he has only run in 9 points, winning 8. He was due to run at Cheltenham last season but he got injured after winning at Chipley Park last January. He made his seasonal debut at Larkhill on January 8th and he won very easily clocking a fast time in the process. I am hoping he runs in a hunter chase at Cheltenham as I think it would be a plus to have experience of Rules fences, but his jumping hasn’t been an issue so far. He also hasn’t faced anything like the opposition he will face in March, but he looks a very progressive horse who has the potential to be very good. I haven’t backed him yet for Cheltenham, but he should certainly be a horse people consider for the race.

 

Looking ahead to the Aintree Fox Hunters’ and one horse who could potentially run well is Broken Eagle. Trained by Lawney Hill’s husband Alan, he really impressed in points last season, including when I saw him win by 40L in a fast time at Higham in January. I fancied him in the 2m race on Cheltenham’s hunter chase night, but I thought he got a pretty average ride and Sam Cavallaro ended up beating him. He then ran in the John Corbet Cup where he didn’t have a hope of staying the trip, but he ran well considering to finish 4th. He made his seasonal return at Cottenham on New Year’s Eve and he duly bolted up. His point wins suggest he is best on a flat track and 3m is as far as he wants to go. For example Cottenham is well known for being shorter than 3m. He hasn’t been seen to his best effect in hunter chases so far (he also ran at Fontwell in 2015 when the ground was too soft), but he is certainly more than good enough to win one. Aintree will suit him right down to the ground granted a decent surface and it is no surprise connections are targeting that race this season. I would be surprised if he wasn’t one of the horses I was looking to back in the race come the day.

 

I have been lucky enough to do some work on At The Races and last March I put up a couple of horses to follow and one of them was Desertmore View. Sadly the horse had injury issues last season and he only ran the once when winning a Mens Open at Howick the same month. He was due to run in the big season finale at Stratford, but was pulled out on the afternoon of the race. His point wins and his performance when winning at Chepstow in 2015 suggest to me he is a very good horse indeed. Annoyingly he fell at Fontwell that year when I thought he couldn’t lose bar a fall, but he remains a horse with plenty of potential. If he can stay sound he will certainly be winning more races and he would easily be up to running well in the top hunter chases.

 

**

 

Finally I will take a look at some possible short cuts to finding hunter chase winners. Jockeys can be very important in hunter chases and it is important that if you see a name you don’t recognise that you look up their stats to see how much experience they have had. As we saw at Kelso recently when Dougie Gittins made two errors on the run-in you have to factor the jockey in any bet you have. I’m sure you will have heard of Will Biddick, but he actually has a pretty poor strike-rate when it comes to hunter chases and you often find his rides are shorter than they should be. One jockey to keep an eye on is James King. He is getting chances in non-hunter chases so he isn’t exactly a hidden name, but I can imagine him a rider in demand in hunter chases this year.

 

Always be wary of horses that have lofty BHA ratings but are coming into hunter chases either via a Rules trainer or a point trainer. Now some of them will still have their ability as the above Kelso race showed when three good horses proved they still hold most if not all of their old ability, but something like that is rare and I suspect all three trainers thought they had possible Cheltenham runners on their hands given how far they travelled for the race. However there have been plenty that have bombed out at short prices with Long Run being a very high profile one last season. These horses tend to be put in very short in the betting for obvious reasons and as Mon Parrian proved in the first hunter chase of the year at Taunton, they aren’t always the gift they appear at first glance.

 

The final point to make is pay very close attention to the betting especially what happens the evening before. Now I know people will struggle to get bets on with most bookies who price up the afternoon before a race, but these bookmakers are also clueless as to how to price up a race. If you see a horse has shortened pretty quickly it means that the price was wrong and most of the time people who know their hunter chase form have taken advantage of the price. Now this doesn’t always mean they are going to win or that I personally fancy all of them. The Kelso race is another good example of this. Nowurhurlin has been a very consistent hunter chaser in recent years and he was a 25/1 chance the day before the race. It was a crazy price really and not surprisingly he was backed in. Obviously I don’t always personally fancy these market movers and like Nowurhurlin they can fail to sparkle, but I think it gives a good basic guide as to how the experts view the race. Although I can’t be certain blindly following them would see you in profit, I would expect them to give you a good run for your money if you want to take a quick short cut to finding a hunter chase winner.

**

 

Hopefully you find this blog helpful either for trying to find hunter chase winners yourself or if you fancy signing up to my service. At the end of the day I like to encourage as much betting on these races as possible as that will certainly be a factor as to whether racecourses put them on or not and I really do believe that with a bit of hard work they are by far and away the best type of race to bet on and make money from.

 Some info about my service…

  • Costs £50 for the season.
  • Every race has an in depth preview and is, most of the time, emailed out the evening before the race.
  • For the two Foxhunters and the 3 all hunter chase cards I write an analysis on every runner.
  • Selections are put up based on a 1-5pt system
  • A review of the race is also emailed out after the race giving my view on what happened, plus any quotes/information that has come out of the race.
  • Bonus selections are sent out when I think a former hunter chaser/pointer is worth backing in another type of race. This was very profitable last year with the highlight tipping up Carrigkerry at 25/1 when he first went into a handicap.

***

It’s me again now…

Well I hope you enjoyed that read and have taken plenty away from it, I know I have. And you never know, some of you may be about to embark on becoming Hunter Chase experts! (and you can post your tips in the comments! :))

How to Join…

If you would like to join Darran’s service you need to do the following: –

 

  • Send Darran the £50 via PayPal, and he will do the rest. 
  • You can use his paypal email address to send him the money directly,through Paypal :  darranpearce@hotmail.co.uk
  • From there he will add you into his list and send you an email. 
  • If you would like to join but don’t use Paypal, again you can email him here: darranpearce@hotmail.co.uk

 

Some final information…

 

  • In Darran’s own words… ‘As much as I obviously want the tips to be profitable one of the aims is to provide information around hunter chases and I know some of my subscribers do use my previews for that and don’t always back what I tip up.’
  • And, his tips are profitable, around +73 points last Hunter Chase season, which isn’t bad going.
  • There is no fancy website etc for this, or a load of sales guff. All the relevant details are above and if you wish to give it a go, good luck for the Hunter Chase season ahead. 

 

**

Right, I think that’s all for this guest post.

I hope you enjoyed the read.

As always, if you have any comments do post below.

All the best,

Josh

p.s you can follow Darran on twitter HERE>>>

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Do join in the conversation below, we're a friendly bunch.. all questions welcome, and do share your selections or thoughts

12 Responses

  1. As a very frequent visitor to point race meetings all over the country. Thoroughly enjoyed this post from a person who obviously knows the point scene very well

  2. That was a good read. I always enjoy watching a hunter chases, as I did not have idea about them this as been a little eye opener. Cheers

  3. Glad that the post has been of use and thank you to those who have been in contact with me personally, added me on Twitter or signed up to the service. I’m happy to answer any questions on hunter chases or points that you might have and thanks again to Josh for allowing me to write about a part of racing that I am really passionate about.

  4. That was a really good read, and an eye opener. Whilst I don’t want to appear stupid or the likes, I am still not too sure on the difference between a “normal” jumps race over fences and a “hunter chase” ! My only take on this is the Cheltenham hunter chase, where they introduce a few “hills” to ride up and over ?

    1. Ok let me answer the questions. Dave you are confusing the Cross-Country races at Cheltenham with hunter chases. Hunter Chases are basically races over steeplechase fences for horses that have a hunters certificate and are ridden by amateur jockey’s. Professional trainers can run horses in hunter chases, but can’t run them in points.

      Bob I certainly think you make a valid point about looking at a horses fitness. With most horses being trained by amateurs they obviously don’t always have the capability to get them fully fit at home. What I would say though is quite a few point trainers have pretty professional set ups now. As for track comparisons you can go to the official site at pointtopoint.co.uk and they have descriptions for all the courses. If you are prepared to spend a little bit of cash then you could buy the results & stats book for last season as that has even better descriptions as well as a graphic of the layout of the track. That only costs £20 and it obviously also gives you the in depth form book for last season. Looking at average times for a track is also helpful because although most races are 3m, the times suggest that not all tracks are 3m in length.

      Phil you have hit another reason why I like betting on hunter chases which I didn’t really touch upon too much, mainly because I don’t have actual hard figures, but yes I do think more horses towards the front end of the market win hunter chases than most if not all other types of races. Like I say I have no evidence for it but that is how it feels. When I was putting my tips online for free I did used to get some people say I just tipped favourites all the time, but I would just say that surely it is better to tip a winner than a loser and crucially not all the tips opened up as favourite. I see it quite often that the bookies price up the wrong horse as favourite and then the horse I have backed ends up going off as SP favourite. I do tip odds on shots, because if I think they are going to win and the price is right then I will put them up, but I do also put forecast picks up from time to time because I know that not everyone wants to back an odds on shot. I do think though that the key to a very successful hunter chase season is finding those horses that do win at larger odds.

      John sorry I don’t keep that information. I would say though that if you were just backing my selections at SP you would make less money than backing them when I send the email out. I can do it for the two races this season though.
      Taunton – Lilbitluso 1pt e/w (SP was 6/1 and PU lame), Real Milan 0.75pts e/w (SP was 5/1 and unseated rider), Foynes Island 0.5pts e/w (SP was 16/1 and came 9th). The first two were both double figures when tipped and the latter was 33/1.
      Kelso – Grand Vision 1pt (SP was 7/4 and came 3rd). He was 3/1 when I sent the email out.

      Hope that answers a few things and don’t hesitate to ask more anything else you might be wondering.

  5. Such a good read – love hunter chasers myself though not always a betting medium – the problem for most is as you say the tracks for points are difficult to assess when trying to relate to park courses – paddock watching is a must at any track but to me Hunters are an absolute must for fitness and conformation you can weed out more at the paddock than any other race type. great read good views and more power to your elbow.
    Now a question if I may – in your previews(book) do you give comparisons between Point to point tracks ? if so it would be the valuable tool I want !
    cheers

    Bob

  6. Thanks Darran for taking the time to write this and to Josh for sharing. I never bet in hunter chases for the very reason that I know veryt little about the horses or jockeys. I have always been wary of formerly good rules horses at short prices though – so at least I know something! Is it my imagination or do more short-price favourites win hunter chases than others? Another reason I donlt bet on them is that at my (very) small stakes I’m not about betting at 2/1 and shorter. Still, as my old dad used to say, “a 2/1 winner is better than a 10/1 loser”!

  7. Hi Darren,
    A great read and interesting about an area of racing I am ignorant of. Is it just the uk hunter scene you follow or do you also check out the Irish scene? Many of three big festival chases seem to be dominated by the Irish horses.
    Cheers
    Pat

    1. It is just the UK scene I focus on although obviously when it comes to the big races I do look at the Irish form and obviously keep an eye on the big hunter chases over there that. I just don’t know enough about the pointing form in Ireland to be able to bet on hunter chases over there. I think if I had more time on my hands I would probably attempt to study the Irish hunter chase scene more because I am sure there would be money to be made. What I will say is if you sign up to their official website then you get video’s of every single point run which is a big plus that you don’t get over here.

  8. Hi Darran, I sent you a request last night, but as yet have heard nothing back from you.
    I wanted to sign up with you but I don’t like or use pay pal.
    Josh says you have an alternative.

    Could you reply when you have a moment as to Yea or Nay.

    Tony Mc.

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