Arkle Chase Tips - 2.10pm Cheltenham

Leading Contenders

The Arkle has always been the stepping stone for future Champion Chase winners with the likes of Moscow Flyer, Sizing Europe and Sprinter Sacre to name but three all following up twelve months after winning this race.

Just to confirm the calibre of horse it takes to win the Arkle we only have to look at the last two renewals, which were won by Douvan and Altior.

The leading hope for Irish trainer Willie Mullins this season looks to be Footpad who runs in the two-tone green colours of Simon Munir and Isaac Souede. The 6yo wasn’t anything special over hurdles last season but did manage to finish 4th in the Champion Hurdle behind Buveur D’Air.

He later failed to stay when tried over a longer trip and then the decision was made to send him chasing.

He opened his account with an effortless victory at Navan and that day he put in a superb round of jumping and impressed many good judges.

He then went to Leopardstown for the Grade 1 Racing Post Chase and bolted up by 11 lengths. His main rival that day Death Duty was well beaten when he capsized at the last.

Last time out he made it 3/3 with a faultless display at Leopardstown in the Frank Ward Chase and beat Petit Mouchoir by 5 lengths.

He looks every inch a chaser and travels so well in his races, he will take a lot of beating if he turns up in the same sort of form in March.

The same owners are also be represented by Sceau Royal trained by Alan King, Jockey Daryl Jacob will have the choice of rides and one thing is for sure there will be a decent spare for someone.

Sceau Royal finished 6th in the Champion Hurdle last year so rated very similar to Footpad. He has won four of his five starts over fences so does have the edge on experience.

His only defeat came at Cheltenham in October when beaten a neck by North Hill Harvey but has since reversed that form in no uncertain terms when winning the Grade 1 Henry VIII Chase at Sandown.

He won a 4-runner race at Doncaster in January to give him some more practise and has now won ten races in total under rules and obviously knows how to get the job done.

Nicky Henderson has won this race three times since 2012 and six times in all so should know what it takes to win an Arkle. Brain Power has been his main contender all season but a couple of sloppy errors at Sandown and Ascot has dented the confidence somewhat.

The 7yo had got off the perfect start over fences when slamming the opposition by 28 lengths on his debut at Kempton so it must be very frustrating for connections. In January he was in the process of chasing home Un De Sceaux in the Clarence House Chase until falling late on and that form alone sets a good standard for a novice.

Henderson’s other entry is River Wylde who was 3rd in the Supreme last season and a lot was expected of him once he was sent chasing. He went to Uttoxeter for his debut and got the job done in more workmanlike fashion than anything else.

Next time he went to Cheltenham to run in the Arkle trial but was very disappointing indeed. He ended up finishing second beaten 18 lengths by North Hill Harvey but was never going with any fluency at any stage.

A very talented horse but the jury is out at the moment, he could easily bounce back after a break but we need to see the evidence on the track.

We have mentioned North Hill Harvey on a couple of occasions now and the Dan Skelton 7yo has to come into the picture on his first two starts alone. He beat Sceau Royal and River Wylde, both at Cheltenham and has a nice turn of foot, which can be very useful up the hill here.

He was easily brushed aside by Sceau Royal at Sandown in December but held on for second and his overall profile is pretty good. The Skelton’s are sure to have a go and had a nice prep at Warwick recently.

Saint Calvados is only a 5yo and will be trying to emulate another ex-French horse Voy Por Ustedes who was the last youngster of that age to win the Arkle. He is trained by Harry Whittington who rates him very highly and has done nothing wrong in his first two starts over the bigger obstacles.

He started of at Newbury where he beat his sole remaining rival by 9 lengths; he jumped well that day in bad ground. Next time over the same course and distance he absolutely bolted up in a handicap off a mark of 148 and is now rated 154.

Some will say he hasn’t beat anything of note in his two starts but he looked very impressive when slamming a small field at Warwick last time and is very well regarded.

Of the others we have to mention Petit Mouchoir who was third in the Champion Hurdle last season and looks to be the number one Gigginstown Stud runner.

He won at Punchestown over fences back in October with the minimum of fuss and can only improve on better ground. Last time out he was second to Footpad and although well beaten in the end he gave connections enough to think about taking him on again in March

Arkle Chase Runners

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Arkle Chase Previous Winners

Year Winner Age Jockey Trainer SP
2017 Altior 7 Nico de Boinville Nicky Henderson 1/4
2016 Douvan 6 Ruby Walsh Willie Mullins 1/4
2015 Un de Sceaux 7 Ruby Walsh Willie Mullins 4/6
2014 Western Warhorse 6 Tom Scudamore David Pipe 33/1
2013 Simonsig 7 Barry Geraghty Nicky Henderson 8/13
2012 Sprinter Sacre 6 Barry Geraghty Nicky Henderson 8/11
2011 Captain Chris 7 Richard Johnson Philip Hobbs 6/1
2010 Sizing Europe 8 Andrew Lynch Henry de Bromhead 6/1
2009 Forpadydeplasterer 7 Barry Geraghty Tom Cooper 8/1
2008 Tidal Bay 7 Denis O'Regan Howard Johnson 6/1

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