Foxhunter hope Hazel Hill taking direct route to Festival date

Hazel Hill is set to head straight to the St James's Place Foxhunter Chase at the Cheltenham Festival

Philip Rowley plans to send leading St James’s Place Foxhunter contender Hazel Hill straight to next month’s Cheltenham Festival.

After running out an impressive winner at Warwick on his last start, the evergreen 11-year-old will now bid to maintain his unbeaten record under rules at Prestbury Park on March 15.

Rowley said: “Hazel Hill in in great form. We would probably have run him on the Sunday just gone at Chaddesley Corbett, but that meeting was off due to racing being shutdown with the equine flu.

“The Walrus at Haydock was a possibility, but I think it falls too close and I imagine he won’t run now until Cheltenham.

“He has come out of the race at Warwick really well and has shown no ill effects. He is in tip-top form.

“It is very difficult to say if he is the best I’ve trained on the back of one very good run, but he is smart and under raced for his age. As long as I can keep him in one piece, he should go nicely at Cheltenham.”

Although the prolific point-to-point winner is yet to run beyond three miles, Rowley, who has saddled Barel Of Laughs to finish third in the last two renewals of the race, feels he should have no problem in getting the trip.

He added: “He is quite relaxed so I don’t think the trip should be a problem, but you don’t know for definite until you are there.

“He might not take to Cheltenham as some horses don’t. He has never been there before, but fingers crossed he will be fine.

“I’ve finished third in the race for the last two years so hopefully he can go two places better, but if he finished second, he will still have run a good race as it is another level up for him.”