Cheltenham Festival 2019: Arkle Chase Preview
The second novice event of The Festival is The Arkle. This race normally throws up a really good horse but I cannot see a potential superstar in this race. To give you an idea in recent winners of this race include Sprinter Sacre, Un De Sceaux, Douvan and Altior but I will be staggered if a horse emerges of that quality. However, what this race lacks in quality it certainly makes up for in betting propositions.
Sadly Le Richebourg will miss this race and he was surely going to be sent off favourite had he not suffered a setback, having looked really impressive winning the Irish equivalent of this race last time.
Defi Du Seuil could now be redirected here by his connections as a result of Joseph O’Brien’s charge not being able to run. Defi Du Seuil looked like a superstar in waiting after an unbeaten juvenile campaign culminating in a Triumph Hurdle victory at the Festival. He lost his way last season being soundly beaten, I think this was a combination of Philip Hobbs’ stable being under the weather combined with juveniles, generally having a poor record when stepped up into open company. If he runs in The Arkle I would expect him to go off favourite having won the Grade 1 Scilly Isles Novice Chase at Sandown last time out beating Lostintranslation and Vinndication quite comfortably in the end. I have to say I think the step up to two and a half miles seems to have suited him and his run over two miles at Cheltenham was error strewn which would put me off him in this.
His conqueror that day Lalor has had only one run over fences since, being soundly beaten by Dynamite Dollars – sadly another absentee here. My concern with Lalor is the lack of chasing experience on a racecourse and that the trainer has wrapped him in cotton wool. He missed an intended engagement at Doncaster and I would have liked to see him have at least one more start before deciding whether or not to put a line through his run at Sandown.
A horse with a high rating over hurdles, particularly as a novice and that has course form always seems to run well here, Mick Channon’s Glenforsa ticks neither of those boxes and will not get a gift of a lead like he was allowed at Sandown last time.
Paloma Blue is undeniably a talented horse but it is not set in stone whether he will run here, or in the JLT – he can also be very keen in his races and is prone to jumping errors which puts me off him.
Kalashnikov was favourite for this race for most of the season but two defeats at short odds have seen his stock plummet and although I do think he will be better for going left handed again horses that have not won their previous start tend to have a poor record in this event. To give you an example of this, Captain Chris was the last horse to win the Arkle having failed to win his previous race by completing and this was in 2011.
Horses towards the head of the market tend to fare well here, particularly when trained by Willie Mullins and it is another one of his charges who will be the selection here. Willie Mullins tends to make multiple entries for his novice hurdlers and chasers at The Festival, Duc Des Genievres has only one, The Arkle. Rated as high as 148 as a novice hurdler as a result of his fifth place finish in the Ballymore last season he has festival form in the book and a high hurdles rating, which are trends that previous winners tend to have. He won on his third attempt over fences but to say he bolted up would be an understatement. Duc Des Genievres won on the bridle and had the race in the bag from a long way out striding out and jumping much better than in previous starts over the larger obstacles and struck me as a massive improver. I am hoping he will be allowed to race prominently and get a good look at his fences allowing him to grow into the race as it progresses and power clear up the hill. The price on offer at the moment still represents each way value and with those ahead of him in the market with points to prove or may not run I think this is a horse worth serious consideration – if this horse was unbeaten over fences for Willie Mullins I would imagine he would be around 6/4 – not 6/1!
Selection - Duc Des Genievres @ 6/1 with Betfair