There may have been a time long ago when Hunters Chases were the poor relation of jumps races but that sphere and the world of point-to-pointing where the Hunters Chasers often ply their trade is becoming increasingly popular for high class horses getting on in years and the Down Royal Hunter Chase on St Stephen's Day is now regularly eagerly anticipated.
Cheltenham winner Tammys Hill won this race two years ago and had to settle for second behind On The Fringe last season but it certainly does prove to be a good trial for the Foxhunters at Cheltenham later in the season and although On The Fringe is back to defend his crown, this could be a race for LUSKA LAD to announce himself as a big player in the Hunters Chase division.
A point-to-point winner at Rockfield last month, Luska Lad (pictured) was an extremely high class hurdler and once retaining some of that ability he may well be able to overturn last year's winner for Shark Hanlon, Barry Connell and his now regular rider Rachel Blackmore.
The Ulster-based trainers love nothing more than a winner at Down Royal on St Stephen's Day and there are a few who could leave very happy including Seán McParlan who unleashes Tattersalls four-year-old point-to-point winner DRUMLEE LAD into the maiden hurdle with his son Noel again doing the steering.
Stephen McConville is another Northern-based trainer who is expected to have a winner with a horse running straight from the point-to-point field as KERRIB CASTLE looks well treated in the handicap chase.
The concluding bumper sees DELEGATE line up for Gordon Elliott and if reproducing his homework he'll be an impressive winner.