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Support hunter chases or they will disappear

Gina Andrews hasn't let the grass grow under her feet since reaching 300 winners and wasn't much troubled to add to that total at Wetherby on Saturday in the Stratstone Harrogate open Hunters' Chase, when Dubai Quest scored a bloodless victory over 4 rivals.

Taking it up three out, she won by 5 1/2l from Le Breuil, one time fancy for the Grand National, from Ben Pauling's yard. The other three, including Stratford Foxhunter winner Law of Gold, and recent Larkhill winner Igor, pulled up.

This time last year, in the absence of Point-to-Points, hunter chases filled to capacity under professional riders. The situation has reverted now, and one has to ask if there are too many hunter chases to satisfy demand. In the three races since Thursday, just 11 horses have been declared.

The three races were well spread out - Wincanton, Wetherby and Musselburgh, and could each have catered for a local horse population. Nor can one attribute the lack of support to ground conditions - good or good to soft throughout. At least the match race at Wincanton turned in a story to make one well up.

Whilst this has offered first season riders like Freddie Gingell and Lily Bradstock an easy route to a first scalp under Rules, consistent underperformance in terms of runners will see these races disappear. Racecourses are penalized nowadays for races with less than 8 runners, and recoup less from their media rights income. Hard-hearted it may seem for races that are the foundation of the sport to disappear, racecourses will look after their own position first.

And if Pointing owners would prefer to run at Larkhill, Overton or Duncombe Park, who are we to say they are wrong?

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