An extremely informative week concerning Cheltenham, with the Dublin Racing Festival showcasing the very best of Irish racing – performances from the likes of Chacun Pour Soi, Notebook, and of course, the legendary Faugheen, likely to live long in the memory.
The show rolls on to Newbury this Saturday, with the Berkshire venue playing host to their Betfair Super Saturday race day – our free bets page contain the sign-up offers to take advantage of before all of this weekend’s action.
With his ante-post preview for the feature Betfair Hurdle currently onsite – where his selections have both halved in price. Joe Eccles is back with his Joe’s Jottings column, this time taking a closer look at the current state of play in the Racing Post Arkle – identifying a selection available at odds of 16/1 – read his views below.
Joe’s Arkle Verdict
For the best part of the season, the Irish novices have dominated the Arkle market – with Notebook holding favouritism since his win at Leopardstown on Boxing Day.
Henry De Bromhead’s seven-year-old brought his record over fences to a perfect 4-4 when scoring at the Dublin Racing Festival last weekend.
His accurate jumping is going to be a huge asset at Cheltenham, but doubts linger over whether a 135-rated hurdler – who was beaten over fifty lengths in the Ballymore on his only previous run outside of Ireland – should be as short as 3/1 for the Arkle.
He has improved exponentially since sent chasing and showed a willing attitude to get the better of Cash Back – who is likely to reoppose in the Arkle – at Leopardstown latest, but the proximity of the third home Gallant John Joe does muddy the form somewhat.
Last season’s Supreme fourth Fakir D’oudairies is another whose jumping has impressed since sent chasing, but he was behind Notebook on Boxing Day and will meet that rival on worse terms at Cheltenham – plus, he still has the option of the 2m4f Marsh Novices’ Chase.
Looking at the British challengers, Brewin’upastorm is the main danger according to the market.
The Barbara Hester-owned seven-year-old has won both of his chase starts to date, landing a four-runner novice chase at Taunton when last seen in November.
It’s the form of his run prior to that at Carlisle, however, which picks him out as a serious contender.
Olly Murphy’s charge stayed on well to score by a head there, and with the second, third, and fourth all coming out and winning since – the form looks very strong.
He has had an interrupted preparation since his subsequent Taunton success though, so is set to head straight to the Festival without another run.
Looking back at that Carlisle form, the run of the fourth-placed Global Citizen caught my eye – and he is the one that gets my vote in this years Arkle.
The Ben Pauling-trained eight-year-old was a very smart hurdler who just fell short on his attempts in Grade 1 company in that sphere – finishing seventh in last season’s Champion Hurdle.
He was over twenty lengths behind Brewin’upastorm on his chase debut at Carlisle in October, but the yard’s horses were badly out of form there, and he bottomed out quickly once put under pressure – suggesting that he would come on a good deal for the run.
He supported that theory when making all of the running to land the Grade 2 Wayward Lad at Kempton on his next outing, and that is invariably a strong race, with the recent roll of honour including the likes of Sprinter Sacre, Dodging Bullets, Altior and Cyrname.
What impressed most at Kempton was Global Citizen’s ability to jump at pace, with his technique improving the faster he went.
The time of that race was strong, with the Wayward Lad over four seconds faster than the Desert Orchid run over the same course and distance an hour later.
A slight tendency to jump out to his left suggests that Global Citizen will benefit from going back this way round in the Arkle, and his yard know what it takes to land novice races at the Festival.
The main argument against him is that his six wins under rules have all come on flat tracks, but there have been valid excuses for his two disappointing efforts on undulating courses, and his connections don’t feel there is an issue with them, with Ben Pauling recently providing a particularly positive update on Global Citizen, confirming his intention to send him straight to Cheltenham stating that he is “a completely different horse to what he was at this stage last season.”
He has over a stone in hand on main market protagonists Notebook and Cash Back on their hurdle ratings, and it is worth noting that Rouge Vif and Fanion D’Estruval – who finished second and fifth behind Global Citizen in the Wayward Lad – both hold entries in the Kingmaker at Warwick this weekend.
If those two were to frank the Kempton form, it would be no surprise to see Global Citizen’s current 16/1 Arkle odds shorten.
GLOBAL CITIZEN – 16/1 Racing Post Arkle
LONGHOUSE POET – 25/1 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle
UNEXCEPTED – 25/1 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle
BRISTOL DE MAI – 50/1 Cheltenham Gold Cup