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2.10 Sporting Life Arkle Challenge Trophy Novices' Chase
Tuesday 15 March | Age: 5yo+ | Prize: £102,482
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 Arkle is where the best, speedy Novice Chasers line up against each other over 2m. This race has turned out some very good winners in recent years, including the likes of Shishkin, Put The Kettle On, Footpad, Altior, Douvan, Un De Sceaux, Sprinter Sacre and more.
Though on paper it doesn’t look like we’re going to get a superstar, it is a competitive race, and fingers crossed the one who does win it, wins it well.
It’s a real shame that the Ante-Post favourite for most of the year, Ferny Hollow, isn’t able to make a challenge for this race, as he has picked up an injury. If he did turn up, then he would’ve been a shade of odds-on, and been very tough to beat. In his absence, it has turned into a very competitive race, with Ireland looking to hold most of the cards.
From the British standpoint, EDWARDSTONE has been the best 2m Novice Chaser in the country by an absolute mile. He has taken to fences a lot better than I anticipated and is started to become very good. I was a big fan of him when he ran over hurdles, but I thought he lacked the class, so to see him already winning a Grade 1 and vying for favouritism in this, is a big shock. He stays the 2m very well, handles the track like we saw when he ran well in the County Hurdle last year, finishing 5th. He stays up the hill very well, and has stamina in abundance over this trip, like we saw during his Grade 1 win at Sandown, where he set a time 4s quicker than the Tingle Creek. Despite him showing decent form, I’ll be siding against him. One thing to note is that he tends to jump his fences very low, and at Cheltenham that could be a worry, as it can be quite testing. With a fast pace likely to be set, his jumping will be put under pressure, and when that happened at Sandown, he did peck on landing and go through the top of a few fences. At the odds, I think it’s best to look elsewhere.
For the Irish contingency, I tipped up BLUE LORD last time out where he beat SAINT SAM and RIVIERE D’ETEL. However, I wasn’t impressed with his performance despite being a winning tip and landing me some money along the way. His jumping was sketchy at a few, and he would’ve lost that race if Riviere D’etel didn’t make a mistake at the last, which lost her momentum. The fact the Mare battled back to lose by 0.5L was amazing, and out of the two, I’d side with Rivier D’etel to reverse the form. Saint Sam ran a blinder as well in that race, he led for most of the way, doing the donkey work, but once he was passed, he stayed on and stayed on very well. I was impressed by the fact he had enough in the tank to finish as close as he did, which was 4.25L. He is not without an EW shot in this.
Riviere D’etel will attract a lot of support, and I think she is the one to beat in this as she has a lot in her favour. She is a good jumper (most of the time), gets the Mare allowance which means she carries 7lb less than the boys. But, one niggling thing about her is that she weakened up the hill at Cheltenham last year in the Boodles. She travelled beautifully, but the gas tank emptied up the hill, where she was beaten by the likes of Saint Sam. Going off collateral form over hurdles, I think you can give a chance to HAUT EN COULEURS in this race. He has only raced twice over fences, which resulted in a fall last time out, in the same race Blue Lord, Saint Sam and Rivier D’etel were competing in, but I’m willing to forgive him for that. I think this race could set up beautifully for this horse. He is a keen goer, so the fact that there is a fair amount of front runners will make this a good test of stamina and will allow him to settle. His jumping will have to be smarter, but with him hopefully being able to settle, that will come naturally. He was pitched into the deep end last year, finishing 3rd in the Triumph Grade 1 on stable debut. The form of that race is looking rather strong now, with Adagio and Zanahiyr proving to be very good hurdlers. He was keen that day, but he stayed up the hill very well despite pulling quite a bit in the early stages, which shows the ability he has. On his chase debut, he jumped out to the left, which isn’t a concern with this track being left-handed, but jumped well. The runner-up has won twice since, and looks a very nice horse, producing an RPR of 156 last time out. In a race that is wide open, I think he is a cracking EW bet.
Arkle Challenge Trophy Novices' Chase Tips
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