Arkle Challenge Trophy Novices’ Chase Betting Tips, Stats & History

Race 2 at the Cheltenham Festival sees the chasers take to the track. Named after one of the greatest of all time, the Arkle Chase has amassed a spectacular roll of honour over the years, but who will come out on top in the next renewal?

Race Info

A decent sized field is in prospect with 12 runners set to go to post for this Grade 1 chase contest run over a trip of two miles. A total of £182,640 in prize money is up for grabs with the ground currently described as good to soft (but with rain on the way).

GoingDistanceGradePrize MoneyRunnersEW Terms
Good to Soft 2m Grade 1 £182,640 12 Runners 1/4 1-3

Arkle Chase Betting Tips

Cheltenham, 14:10, Tuesday 12th March 2019

This looks far more competitive than in recent years, and with there not looking to be too much between the contenders we will be siding with one at a bigger price to cause an upset.

Results from the past 10 years would suggest we need a runner aged six or seven when seeking the winner here, with all bar 2010 winner Sizing Europe falling into that age bracket.

Nicky Henderson and Willie Mullins have been the men to follow from a trainer’s perspective, winning five of the past six editions between them.

This year’s Arkle has something of a different look to that which we have become accustomed in recent years. Six of the past seven editions of this have been landed by an odds-on favourite, but with it being 4/1 the field at present it would take a gamble of truly epic proportions for that pattern to continue in 2019.

Woollacott To Win It?

There would be few more popular winners here than the Kayley Woollacott-trained Lalor. If this horse hadn’t run at Sandown last time out, we have little doubt he would be the clear market leader for this. The only trouble is, he did run at Sandown and was beaten by 12 lengths, looking ill at ease on the soft ground that day. Prior to that he had looked a potential superstar when storming up the hill at this track to score by seven lengths in the trial for this race. The question is, which Lalor will turn up here? If it’s the horse that landed that trial in such style, then he may well win. If it’s the Lalor last seen at Sandown, he has little to no chance.

Elliott Hard To Beat?

Gordon Elliott is a man who does very well at the Cheltenham Festival, and he seems to do particularly well when he has just the one entry for a race. Elliott sends just the one here, and he goes by the name of Hardline. A Grade 2 winner over the smaller obstacles, he has already bettered that level over fences when landing a Grade 1 contest at Limerick in December. A respectable third behind Le Bague Au Roi in the Flogas Novice Chase on ground much too quick for him, he has Cheltenham specialist Davy Russell in the saddle and can go well for team Gigginstown.

Blue Is The Colour For De Bromhead?

Amongst those at bigger prices, the one to most catch the eye is the Henry De Bromhead trained Paloma Blue. This one certainly isn’t the best jumper in the field – although the reports concerning his homework are encouraging in that regard – but in terms of raw ability he may not be very much – if anything – behind the market leaders. In addition, we know he goes well at this track having finished a close up fourth in the Supreme last season. A six and a half length winner in his prep for this, he is going in the right direction and can go well – if sorting out those jumping errors.

Final Verdict: Paloma Blue each way

Plenty in with chances here, with the rapidly improving Glen Forsa another to note for Mick Channon. Lalor looks risky at the prices considering the current going and as such Hardline is preferred of those towards the head of the market.

Our best bet in the race though is an each way punt on Paloma Blue. That this one managed to win at all last time out was something of an achievement considering how badly he jumped. He has however had nearly four months off to work on those issues, is in expert hands, likes this track and possesses plenty of talent.

Recent Winners

2019 Duc Des Genievres 5/1 Willie Mullins Paul Townend
2018 Footpad 5/6 Willie Mullins Ruby Walsh
2017 Altior 1/4 Nicky Henderson Nico de Boinville
2016 Douvan 1/4 Willie Mullins Ruby Walsh
2015 Un De Sceaux 4/6 Willie Mullins Ruby Walsh
2014 Western Horse 33/1 David Pipe Tom Scudamore
2013 Simonsig 8/15 Nicky Henderson Barry Geraghty
2012 Sprinter Sacre 8/11 Nicky Henderson Barry Geraghty
2011 Captain Chris 6/1 Philip Hobbs Richard Johnson
2010 Sizing Europe 6/1 Henry De Bromhead Andrew Lynch

About the Arkle Challenge Trophy: A Stepping Stone for Potential Greats

Chestnut Racehorse

The Cheltenham Festival has been littered with brilliant horses, jockeys and trainers over the years. When it comes to stars of the four legged variety though, few stand out quite as much as three-time Gold Cup winner, Arkle, a horse whose fame reaches well beyond racing’s inner circles.

The Irish legend is such an important part of Cheltenham’s history (and indeed racing’s history) that the powers that be decided to name a race at the Festival after him. The Arkle Challenge Trophy is a steeplechase for novices which is run over a distance just shy of two miles. The race was introduced in 1969 as a direct replacement for the Cotswold Chase, so records of the two races are often treated as one.

It’s a Grade 1 which is so highly regarded by owners and trainers that most will plan the seasons of their leading minimum distance novice chasers around the Arkle. That’s not only because of a first prize that passed the £100,000 mark in 2019. Connections know that the Arkle has played an important role in the careers of horses who go on to win even bigger races.

The Future Champion Chasers?

The most obvious route for the leading contenders in the Arkle to follow leads to the Queen Mother Champion Chase. The likes of Sprinter Sacre, Altior and Voy Por Ustedes all won the Champion Chase the year after their success in the Arkle. Other winners have taken very different routes though.

Dual Arkle & Champion Chase Winners: 1999 - 2019

Horse Trainer Arkle Win Champion Chase Win(s)
Altior Nicky Henderson 2017 2018, 2019
Sprinter Sacre Nicky Henderson 2012 2013, 2016
Sizing Europe Henry de Bromhead 2010 2011
Voy Por Ustedes Alan King 2006 2007
Azertyuiop Paul Nicholls 2003 2004
Moscow Flyer Jessica Harrington 2002 2003, 2005
Flagship Uberalles Paul Nicholls 1999 2002

As a top class novices chase, the Arkle does tend to be won by younger horses, many of whom are versatile. That’s why we’ve seen previous Arkle victors go on to win longer distance races, although it’s unlikely that Alverton’s feat of winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup the year after winning the Arkle in 1978 will ever be repeated.

How to Pick an Arkle King

When it comes to picking a potential winner of the Arkle Challenge Trophy the number one thing to focus on is the ability to jump well at speed. The fast pace that this race is always run at has caught out many promising horses before even if the market is usually a good guide. Winning favourites are increasingly common as bookies and punters alike know a top class horse long before they reach Cheltenham in their novice chasing campaign.

Chart Showing the Finishing Positions of the Favourites or Joint Favourite in the Arkle Chase Between 1989 and 2019

That said, the lack of returning winners and question marks about horses this early into their chasing careers does often make the betting competitive. If it does look a particularly difficult renewal of the Arkle then it’s well worth taking the trainer into account.

Achieving back to back wins requires an excellent display of training so the likes of Willie Mullins and Alan King should be considered if they have a classy entry. Of course, we shouldn’t forget anything sent to post by Nicky Henderson either. The most successful trainer in the history of the Arkle Challenge Trophy, Henderson has saddled the winner an impressive six times (ahead of the 2020 Cheltenham Festival).

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