The Arkle Chase takes place on the first day of the Cheltenham Festival, and features the best English and Irish 2-mile Novice Chasers. It is a race that has is usually contested by horses that will hopefully go onto challenge for future Champions Chases, and great horses like Remittance Man, Klairon Davis, Flagship Uberalles, Moscow Flyer, Azertyioup, Sizing Europe and Sprinter Sacre have completed the double. Meanwhile, the last two winners Douvan and Altior head the market for the 2018 Champion Chase.
Winners have been rated between 135 and 170
Six winners have been aged 7, three aged 6, and one aged 8
SPs have ranged from 1/4 to 33/1
Nicky Henderson has trained 3 of the last 6 winners
Barry Geraghty has ridden 3 of the last 9 winners
Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh have teamed up to win 2 of the last 3 renewals
Good enough to finish second in the Irish Champion Hurdle and Fourth in the Champion Hurdle last season, the Willie Mullins trained 5-year-old looked an absolute natural over fences on her debut over the bigger obstacles. Younger than recent winners, but could easily be a third winner of the race in four years for Mullins.
Nicky Henderson trained 6-year-old who was rated in the 160’s over hurdles, and made an excellent transition to fences when a wide margin winner at Kempton. Could pick up several decent chases on the road to Cheltenham, however has underperformed on both previous visits to Cheltenham.
Last year’s Irish Champion Hurdle winner went on to finish third in the Champion Hurdle, and made a winning start over fences. Has suffered a minor injury since and, though he would look a big price if turning up, you have to take a risk.
Lightly-raced 5-year-old who has won 6 of his 7 races, and both of his runs over fences. Especially impressive when conceding an 8lb penalty last time, and could go to the top over fences despite not being given the chance to hit the same heights over hurdles as some of his rivals.
North Hill Harvey
Big scopey 6-year-old who looks every inch a chaser. Won the Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham last season and, having won both his chase starts here, the Arkle looks sure to be his big aim. Worry is he might be at his best on soft ground though, and may not get that in March.
Won 2 of his 3 chase starts, and was conceding 5lb to North Hill Harvey when that rival beat him a neck in between. Only sixth in last year’s Champion Hurdle though, so has ground to make up with Petit Mouchoir and Footpad.
It’s unusual that 4 horses from the previous year’s Champion Hurdle are sent chasing, but Petit Mouchoir, Footpad, Sceau Royal and Brain Power have already shown they are chasers of huge potential. Of the four, Footpad is much preferred having improved with every run last season, and having shown the best jumping technique on debut. However, Finian’s Oscar could be better than all of them over fences, and looks the ante-post value.