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Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy Chase (Grade 1)
Arkle Chase Betting Tips
The Novice version of the Queen Mother Champion Chase takes place on Tuesday 14th March over two miles and 13 fences. Each entrant carries 11 stone 4 pounds, with mares receiving a 7 pound allowance.
Our Arkle Tip 2017 won’t be any surprise to you all, but at the end of the day it’s impossible to oppose Altior in this year’s renewal. Winner of the 2016 Supreme Novices Hurdle in emphatic style, he has taken brilliantly to fences and is already getting comparisons to some of the greats.
Now unbeaten in four chasing starts, his latest one at Newbury put away any doubts that he may not be quite as far ahead against better competition. Setting off the 30/100 favourite for the Game Spirit Chase, he jumped impressively throughout, making most under Nico De Boinville. Given some rein at four out, he needed no second invitation and switched into second gear to draw right away from his rivals, who included Fox Norton and Dodging Bullets. Thirteen lengths was the official margin, but it could have been many more had De Boinville actually pushed the button on Nicky Henderson’s stable star.
He remains with huge scope for progress in this sphere and what he can produce when asked for a true effort may well be frightening. Ground versatile and a strong stayer at this trip, he ticks all the boxes for the race and it looks very unlikely that any other horses will be able to get near him in this.
The Arkle Chase betting trends to take into consideration are as follows:
- 10 of the last 10 winners were 1st or 2nd on their last start before the Cheltenham Festival race
- 10 out of the last 10 winners were aged 6 to 8 (six were aged 7 years old)
- 9 of the last 10 winners recorded a RacingPost Rating of 154+ on their last start before the Arkle Chase
- 9 of the last 10 winners were in the top 5 of the betting market based on Starting Prices
- 9 of the last 10 winners had at least placed in a Graded Hurdle race earlier in their career
- Of the last 10 winners, 8 ran in either January or February
- 7 of the previous 10 winners had won a Graded Chase already
- 5 of the last 10 winners were Irish bred, with 4 others French bred
- Only 4 favourites have won in the last 10 years – all were odds-on and all within the last 5 years
- There has only been one double figure priced winner in the last 10 years – Western Warhorse at 33/1 in 2014
The Arkle has been a wide open race for trainers, with eight different winners in the last ten years. Nicky Henderson has won it twice with Simonsig and Sprinter Sacre in 2012 and 2013 respectively. Barry Geraghty has ridden three winners in the last ten years (the two Henderson horses and Forpadydeplasterer for Tom Cooper) and is actually the all-time leading jockey with four wins in total (Moscow Flyer in 2002 is the other). A win for Nicky Henderson would see him claim the top Arkle Chase trainer title for himself – a sixth win would take him one clear of Tom Dreaper.
Trends Analysis: Plenty of classic novice trends are prominent, including typical ages and class over hurdles, as well as a run for fitness in January or February. The lack of big price winners suggests one of two things to us: either the market naturally leans towards better jumpers, or horses are slightly more exposed than, for exampple, the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and thus there are less shocks. Whatever the reason, it is clear that Nicky Henderson should be given plenty of respect, as should Willie Mullins.
The Arkle is a novices’ chase and has been won in the past by horses such as Moscow Flyer, Sizing Europe, Sprinter Sacre and, most recently, Douvan. You can find our in depth preview below for this intriguing contest with a tip to follow soon!
The leading trainer is Nicky Henderson who has won the race five times in the past and has the short priced favourite Altior as his leading chance this year. The impressive winner of the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the Festival last year, he has taken well to fences with four victories thus far, including a Grade 1 and Grade 2. Improving with every run, his victory in the Wayward Lad Novices’ Chase was easy, but his victory in the Game Spirit Chase was incredibly impressive. Making all in brilliant display of jumping to beat Fox Norton by an impressive thirteen lengths, he put any doubt away about his ability at the top level. Ground versatile with no problem if it is Good or Soft, he is suited well to Cheltenham and is certain to stay, winning at 2m 2f in the past on soft ground. A best priced 1/3 speaks for itself and he’s like to be a formidable opponent in this.
Willie Mullins is never short of talent, and Yorkhill further boosts his chances in the race, with the 2016 Neptune Novices’ Hurdle winner also entered. On his first chasing run his inexperience did show, jumping left at times, but he got the job done with ease as expected. Perhaps not as impressively as the aforementioned horse however, with his jumping suspect at this stage. His second run didn’t particularly dismiss those jumping fears when again jumping left at times, but he wasn’t extended to take victory in that Grade 3 at Leopardstown last time out. His jumping does need to improve if he’s to be able to live with Altior in any sort of capacity, but as a Mullins horse he’s likely to be at his peak come March. If that is the case, he has to be considered a danger as his win in the Neptune came with the scalp of Yanworth who now goes to the Champion Hurdle. With wins on heavy and good ground, he will not have much worry in that respect come March, although a pure test that brought stamina into the question would certainly suit him better than his rivals, with his wins at further distances. He does however look unlikely to play a part in this, as the JLT Novices’ Chase looks a better option for him.
Pace setting his way to fifth in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the Festival last season, Charbel has shown good promise over fences thus far and won on chasing debut with some useful types behind him. Although no match for Altior at Sandown in the Henry VIII Novices’ Chase in December, there was no disgrace in defeat and a bad jump at the last certainly did not help his cause. That is not to say that he would have won that day – as that is unlikely – but it was a good performance nonetheless. At a best priced 33/1 for the race, that is a very good Each Way price and, as the likely pace setter, he would almost certainly give a good account of himself. A number of factors will obviously be needed for him to have a leading chance, with good ground being the first and, perhaps, the most crucial. Neither is assured, but are probable with ground likely to be drying out towards March. With runners likely to thin out in fear of those such as Altior, he could well be the only pace angle left in the race. 10/1 is a good each way price for Kim Bailey’s runner and if burning off some rivals down the back, he has a good chance of filling a place.
Leaving it late to go chasing at the age of nine, Royal Caviar has run well on both his chasing starts to date. Making all on chasing debut at Thurles in December, he won with ease and showed a good turn of foot when asked to go and seal the race. He looked almost certain to win the Irish Arkle at Leopardstown on his latest start, travelling up powerfully to the leader and had just taken over when falling at the last, something he did not deserve. He remains with scope for progress in this sphere and as a ground versatile horse, he wont mind any rain that could fall during the weekend before the Festival. He looks another good each way angle at a best priced 14/1, though it looks a hugely uphill task if he is to get anywhere near Altior.
The 2015 Imperial Cup winner Flying Angel made a good start over fences, winning well at Perth on chasing debut, jumping well in the main and showing a good turn of foot when asked to win the race. Things however didn’t go to plan in two runs that proceeded, falling when beaten at Chepstow in October after not travelling particularly well and suffering a similar fate when struggling from an early stage and pulling up here on his penultimate start. Back down to the Arkle trip though, he turned in a performance much more like we know he is capable of, running out a comfortable winner of the Kingmaker Chase at Warwick. That was by far his best effort over fences and showed he wasn’t one to give up on just yet, jumping well throughout and never looking in danger once striking the front. If building on that run, he would surely have good each way claims as a ground versatile sort who has proven in the past he handles the hill well.
Along with our Arkle Chase preview, we have all our other Cheltenham Festival tips and previews online to view now, each going into huge amounts of detail to help find you the winner.
Seven-year-olds have a standout record in the Arkle, with horses of this vintage having secured the race seven times in the past 14 years. Between 2007 and 2009 there were three consecutive victors aged seven; My Way de Solzen, Tidal Bay and Forpadydeplasterer.
The horse that bucked this trend was eight-year-old Sizing Europe for Henry De Bromhead and Andrew Lynch, who raced handily in fourth for much of the early stages. The De Bromhead mount put in a spectacular jump at the ninth to have himself on level terms with long-time leader Mad Max before pouncing on a jumping error at the penultimate fence to lead the runners home. The winner just fended off an improving Somersby who had the advantage of the rail late on.
Captain Chris restored the stronghold of the seven-year-olds over the race. Like his predecessor, the horse raced in fourth position for much of the uphill racing. Despite making much of jumping the ninth, Captain Chris responded well to the urgings of Richard Johnson and took the rail, the backside of front-running Finian’s Rainbow in his sights. The leader seemed to empty all at once, allowing the eventual winner to close up the three length gap at the second last. Jumping the last together, Captain Chris continued to stay on, fighting out a two-and-three-quarter length victory.
2012 was the year of Sprinter Sacre, the first of a successive double for Henderson and Geraghty. The odds-on favourite showed his hand at the water jump, having been held up in third early on. He capitalised on a mistake from Al Ferof to take the lead at the fourth last and improved incrementally without encouragement from his rider. The horse kept on again to finish a full seven lengths clear of second placed Cue Card on the line. The second of the Henderson, Geraghty double in the race came in the shape of seven-year-old Simonsig who, like his stablemate, was an odds-on market leader for the pair in 2013. Simonsig refused to settle throughout the opening stages of the race, not content with the pace set by the front-running Overturn. The grey eventually calmed and was raced handily behind Donald McCain’s leader and Arvika Legionnaire. He was forced to recover from hitting the eighth hard, but stayed between the pair, with a superb jump at the next. Overturn smashed through the top of the second last which allowed the favourite to go clear from the improving Bailey Green, doing just enough following the last to see off the Mouse Morris outsider by just under three lengths.
Hat-trick seeking Henderson and Geraghty teamed up with Grandouet in 2014, but failed to make an impression on the race won by Western Warhorse. A 33/1 shot from the stable of David Pipe, Western Warhorse raced settled in third, just off the pace set by the eventual runner-up Champagne Fever. The horse looked beaten when falling through the field following the jumping of the tenth, but closed up and put in a good jump at the next to put himself in contention. Champagne Fever was leading over the last and was robbed of victory on the line by the seven-year-old.
2015 was no doubt the year of Willie Mullins, and Un De Sceaux was part of the infamous Day 1 four fold which was let down by Annie Power’s last fence fall in the Mares Hurdle. Sent off just 4/6, he made most and shot up the hill to pull away from God’s Own and score by an impressive six lengths.
The imperious Douvan maintained his long winning streak by comfortably landing the 2016 renewal of the race for Rich Ricci and Willie Mullins. In fact, he did not just win, he made an absolute mockery of the race and the manner of his victory was breathtaking. He was sent off a 1/4 favourite and fully justified his price tag.
Arkle was more than just a horse, he was a legend. Owned by Anne, Duchess of Westminster, Timeform rate him as the best ever steeplechaser with a rating of 212. In comparison, the mighty Sprinter Sacre, unbeaten in ten chase starts and winner of the Arkle Challenge Trophy by seven lengths (before winning the Queen Mother Champion Chase by a full 19 lengths without coming off the bridle) has been given a rating of a mere 192. Arkle could give Sprinter Sacre 15lb and still beat him by five lengths. It is a struggle to think about just how good Arkle was.
Indeed, he was so good that the whole handicap system had to be revised to cope with him. If Arkle was entered into a handicap, two sets of weights would be have to be published, one including Arkle and one without Arkle. He started 22 of his 26 chase starts at odds-on and he won the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 1964, 1965 and 1966, winning 27 of his 35 races overall.
Possibly Arkle’s greatest win was when he beat his main rival Mill House in 1965 in the Gallacher Gold Cup. Despite giving the second favourite 16lb in weight allowance, and six out was a good five lengths behind, he showed an amazing turn of speed (while still on the bridle!) to win by 20 lengths. Even more impressively, with a weight of 12st 7lb and remaining on the bridle, he smashed the course record by a huge 17 seconds. It is well worth watching the YouTube video with the incredible original footage.
Interestingly, the second highest rated chaser ever – Flyingbolt, rated 210 – was Arkle’s stablemate. The two never met in racing, but it would have been some race if he had! Injured in the 1966 King George VI Chase, a return never materialised, but his memory lives on.
Nine runners will be fighting it out for the 2017 Racing Post Arkle Chase:
- A HARE BREATH
- CLOUDY DREAM
- FOREST BIHAN
- ORDINARY WORLD
- ROYAL CAVIAR
- SOME PLAN
- THREE STARS