For the last three years Enda Bolger’s On The Fringe has finished in the first four of the Foxhunters Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, and after his runaway win last year is hot favourite to double up.
The 11-year-old returned to the track with a seventh-place finish at Leopardstown last week, and while his Even-money favouritism says he should have gone better, he did need a run under his belt last season before going on to achieve a major success..
He is a worthy favourite for the race known as the amateur’s Gold Cup at the Festival, but odds of 5/2 leave little margin for error in a race that usually attracts a big field and requires plenty of luck.
Instead, it could be worth taking a chance on one who has been making waves in the Hunter Chase division this season – when getting round that is.
Two Rockers was a very good hurdler for Alan King, winning the Grade 2 Prestige Novices’ Hurdle before disappointing in the Neptune behind The New One.
He’s been bought by the Maguire family and is trained by multiple-Grade 1-winning jockey Adrian and ridden by his son Finian.
Since being switched to fences it’s been very much all or nothing for the gelding in his point-to-points and hunter chases to date.
Of his nine outings over fences he’s won seven and parted company with his jockey on three occasions.
The victories that he has run up have been impressive ones, beating some very solid yard-sticks in the process.
He had Last Time D’Albain 10 lengths behind on his second start over fences who was third in the Aintree Fox Hunters Chase last year, and also had Oscar Delta – who had the 2013 Cheltenham renewal at his mercy when unseating his jockey on the flat – behind at Bandon last March.
Where Two Rockers does come unstuck though, is his tendency to throw a stinker of a jump into each of his races.
While he’s not fallen, all three of his unseats have come when blundering his way over a fence, most recently at Leopardstown last weekend.
His victory at Thurles in January came despite a blunder at the final fence where he pecked badly on landing, but rallied on gamely to pull away by four lengths after seemingly handing the initiative to Carrigeen Acebo.
That form looks strong with the runner up winning a couple of point-to-points by a distance in the last nine months.
Cut in the ground could be key for his Cheltenham chances, with nine of his 10 victories coming with the conditions no better than yielding.
But what will be more important is that he gets a clear round of Prestbury Parks tricky fences, with any major error likely to put paid to his chances.
However, put in a decent display of jumping and Adrian Maguire’s gelding has the engine to give the defending champion a race of things and at 16/1 is well worth an interest.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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