2.10 Racing Post Arkle Novices' Chase

Tuesday 10 March  |  Age: 5yo+  |  Prize: £175,000

The Arkle Challenge Trophy – sometimes known as just the ‘Arkle’ – is a Grade 1 National Hunt steeplechase raced over 2 miles which pays tribute to Arkle, a three-time winner of the Cheltenham Gold Cup in the mid-1960s.

THE second race of the day on Tuesday is the Arkle Novices Chase, where the quickest two mile chasers usually square up in one of the most exciting races of the festival. 

In years gone by there has often been a standout star contender like Altior or Footpad but this year the field is a bit more open.

NOTEBOOK looks likely to go off as favourite and I think he has really strong claims.

At this sort of level I think it's fair to say he was a bang average hurdler last season but he has been a revelation over fences, really taking to the discipline and his form is rock solid.

3-1 I think is good value in a race where 5 or 6 of them are unlucky to be involved at the finish.

I was a big Fakir D'Oudairies fan but it's hard to make a strong argument for him here at the prices given that Notebook put him away last time.

My each way alternative is the horse who beat me for a treble last time.  I was waiting on Nube Negra but ROUGE VIF really impressed, winning by 6 lengths.

That makes him the highest rated British novice and whilst the Irish form is likely to be better I think that the 14-1 about Rouge Vif is very fair indeed.

Recommended bet

  • Notebook 3pt win 3-1 (Unibet)
  • Rouge Vif 1pt ew 14-1 (Bet365)

FAKIR D’OUDAIRIES finished a slightly disappointing fourth to Klassical Dream in last year’s Supreme but has looked a better horse over fences. He was receiving 7lb when beaten by Notebook at Leopardstown but didn’t enjoy the clearest of runs.

Joseph O’Brien describes Fakir D’Oudairies as ‘his best chance of the meeting’. 

Notebook heads the Arkle Trophy market on the strength of his four unbeaten outings over fences. Henry de Bromhead is a past master at getting his young chasers to jump fast and fluently, and Notebook is top of the class in that department.

That said, he hadn’t much in hand when edging out Cash Back at the Dublin Racing Festival and his slightly wayward temperament has been called into question.

Mullins was giving the runner-up only his third attempt over fences and Cash Back’s keen-going style of racing should get a few of these off the bridle quite early on the quicker Old Course.

Brewin’upastorm has attracted plenty of market support in the past few days and although his lack of experience is a slight concern, he shouldn’t be discounted.

Recommended bet

  • Fakir D'Oudaries 4-1 (Bet365)

On paper, this year’s renewal is arguably the most competitive this race has been since Champagne Fever was beat by 33/1 shot, Western Warhorse.

At the head of the market you have Notebook, who has been a total revelation over fences. He is the highest rated in the race (158) and boasts a perfect 4/4 chase record.

He’s got a cracking chance tomorrow and has many likeable traits. He’s a tenacious horse, who has plenty of scope and battles all the way to the line.

Henry De Bromhead’s yard is flying, currently operating at a 32% strike rate in the past 14 days. Rachael Blackmore is arguably the best jumps jockeys around at the minute, she is strong and positions her rides in the correct place more times than not.

Though he is the form horse, and has a great chance tomorrow, I feel like his unbeaten record will come to a halt, and by an old foe.

My selection for the Arkle is Fakir D’oudaries. I’ve had a small punt on him antepost at 7/1, which is looking a nice bet as he’s currently best priced at 9/2.

He was beat by Notebook, but Mark Walsh lost his irons turning for home which stopped his momentum. I feel like this track will suit Fakir more than Notebook, he seems a strong stayer over 2m and his jumping is electric which will play into his strengths at Cheltenham.

There will more than likely be a very strong pace on offer (Global Citizen, Maire Banrigh & Cash Back are renowned front runners), and this could separate the exceptional jumpers from the average jumpers.

He’s won at this track which is always a positive, and it’s worth noting that JP McManus has sent him to the Arkle, as this is a race he doesn’t target, and often avoids. He had the chance to send Defi Du Seuil to this race last year but opted for the JLT (now the Marsh chase). There’s plenty of improvement to come for this horse as well, as he’s still only 5yo.

Other notable horses are Cash Back, who will need to reverse the form with Notebook form last time out, and like Fakir they are all closely matched.

Brewin’upastorm is strongly fancied by his trainer Olly Murphy, but he probably lacks the chase experience to win this in my opinion. Cheltenham is a different test of jumping to Carlisle and Taunton where he’s won his two chases. A strong pace could suit Al Dancer, but his ability might lack the others in the field.

Recommended bet

  • Fakir D'Oudaries 4-1 (Bet365)

Catch the Voice of Valaue's ante-post thoughts on the Championship and novice Races at the Festival in his indepth podcasts with John Egan and Chris Dickson.

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Distance: 1m 7f 199y
Type: Chase
Class: 1
Track: Turf
J:Rachael Blackmore
T: H De Bromhead

Fakir D'Oudairies
J:M P Walsh
T: J P O'Brien

J:R Johnson
T: Olly Murphy

Cash Back
J:P Townend
T: W P Mullins

Esprit Du Large
J:Adam Wedge
T: Evan Williams

Maire Banrigh
J:Harry Skelton
T: D Skelton

Rouge Vif
J:G Sheehan
T: H Whittington

Put The Kettle On
J:Aidan Coleman
T: H De Bromhead

Global Citizen
J:David Bass
T: B Pauling

Al Dancer
J:Sam Twiston-Davies
T: N A Twiston-Davies

Our Merlin
J:Stan Sheppard
T: R Walford

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