Adrian Wall’s Road To The Cheltenham Festival 2020 – The Arkle

Thomas Darby

Our Irish National Hunt expert Adrian Wall is going to share his Cheltenham Festival ante-post adventure with you all, and next up is a 25/1 tip for the Arkle Chase.

I started this portfolio a week ago, starting with a 16/1 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle tip but it’s now time to move on to the Grade One two-mile chase where we will get an opportunity to view the up and coming youngsters over the larger obstacles. To win an Arkle, in general you need to be a very good jumper, have a high cruising speed, but also have that bit of stamina to get up the hill.

The aim of this ante-post portfolio is of course to try to win some money. Betting on a race that is five months away is not for everyone but if you can get just one race right this far out, it may well pay for your Festival and maybe a little bit more. There are always big risks involved with ante-post betting and sometimes, some of these won’t even make the race.

The Arkle

Trainer Olly Murphy could have a potential Arkle headache on his hands as at this moment in time, he has three horses that could all potentially end up in the race. They include Itchy Feet who was third in the 2018 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and Brewinupastorm who was fourth in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle. However, for me, the most exciting candidate he has for the race is without a shadow of a doubt THOMAS DARBY.

Olly, who learned his trade at Cullentra House with Gordon Elliott, is an up and coming trainer and it won’t be long before he gets his first Grade One victory. He had 82 winners last year which is a tidy number but he is a hugely driven man and his hard work will see him go right to the top of the sport. He certainly could not have been trained by a better man anyways, that’s for sure.

Thomas Darby wrapped up an excellent novice season with a runner-up finish to the current Champion Hurdle favourite Klassical Dream in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle 2018. I thought this was a hugely eye-catching run because he does not like soft ground at all and his starting price of 28/1 suggested he certainly wasn’t fancied in the slightest on the day.

If this lad gets to the Arkle in one piece and gets good spring ground on the day, this 25/1 will look absolutely enormous. He is entered to run in a novice chase at Exeter on Tuesday the 22nd of October and if all goes to plan there, the price certainly won’t last. We might not see the very best of him in October, November, December and January due to foul conditions but as that drying ground comes around, we will start to get very excited indeed.

So, let’s take a look into Thomas Darby’s form to date. He won his bumper at odds of 6/4 at Huntingdon in May 2018 and was then put away for the summer. He started his 2018/19 campaign with a maiden hurdle run at Cheltenham where he beat Elixir Du Nutz by over three lengths. The Tizzard horse in second went on to beat Itchy Feet at Cheltenham in a Grade Two after that and then went on to win the Grade One Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown so that form looks rock solid.

Thomas Darby then went on and was defeated by Didtheyleaveuoutto by a head at Ascot before going on to finish third to Mister Fisher at Kempton. Interestingly, Kempton and Ascot where he got beat are both right-handed tracks but Cheltenham and Taunton (where he also had success that season) are both left-handed so over time we may find out he is better going left-handed.

After winning a novice hurdle at Taunton at odds of 1/5 in January, he was put away for the Arkle and on soft ground he was the huge eye-catcher in the race. He made up a lot of ground late on to finish a clear second behind what could turn out to be an absolute superstar Klassical Dream of the Willie Mullins camp. For me, he is a very exciting prospect and is the one to be on for the 2020 Arkle.


€20 BLUE SARI for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle @ 16/1

€20 THOMAS DARBY for the Arkle @ 25/1


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