Race two at the Cheltenham Festival sees the chasers take to the track in the Arkle Novices’ Chase, or the Arkle Challenge Trophy Novices’ Chase to give its full name.
This race is named after one of the greatest of all time, Arkle, who is the highest rated chaser in history. Arkle won 27 races in a five year career at a strike rate of 77%. His victories included three Cheltenham Gold Cups, a King George VI Chase and victory in the 1964 Irish Grand National.
The Arkle Chase has amassed a spectacular roll of honour over the years including Moscow Flyer, Sprinter Sacre and Altior, but who will come out on top in the next renewal?
Next Race: Tuesday, 16th March 2021
The next race is scheduled to run on 16th March 2021. The race info, trends and tips shown below will be updated for the next renewal once the final declarations have been made.
Last Run: 10th March 2020
- Winner: Put The Kettle On
- SP: 16/1
- Trainer: Henry De Bromhead
- Jockey: Aidan Coleman
The Arkle Chase is the first steeplechase of the Cheltenham Festival after things get started with the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. This brilliant contest offers a chance for some of the most promising novice chasers around to earn a top level win on the biggest stage and mark themselves out as a future contender for races such as the Champion Chase, the Ryanair Chase and, on occasion, the biggest of them all, the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
|Going||Distance||Grade||Prize Money||Runners||EW Terms|
|Soft||2m||Grade 1||£175,00||11 Runners||1/5 1-3|
Arkle Chase Betting Tips
Note: The following tips are from 2020. Tips for the next renewal will be added once the final declarations have been made.
The Arkle Chase has not been a good race for the bookmakers in recent years. The bookies love nothing more than an upset in the betting, especially at the Cheltenham Festival, but upsets have been few and far between in this Grade 1 novices’ chase. Duc Des Genievres snapped a run of four straight winning favourites last year but he was hardly missed by the market at odds of just 5/1.
The fact that there have been so many winning favourites lately in the Arkle tells you a lot about the calibre of horses who compete in it. Un De Sceaux, Douvan and Altior have all won inside the last five years so whoever gets the job done on Tuesday will be marked down as having a big future and rightly so.
As you would expect, a certain amount of classy form is required for any horse to have a chance of winning the Arkle. The vast majority of recent winners had at least one win in a Grade 1 or 2 to their name whilst you’d need a very good reason to support a horse without a win this season.
|Notebook||11/4||158||Henry De Bromhead||Rachael Blackmore|
|Fakir D'oudairies||4/1||154||Joseph Patrick O'Brien||Mark Walsh|
|Brewin'upastorm||11/2||150||Olly Murphy||Richard Johnson|
Notebook has been sitting pretty at the top of the ante post betting for the Arkle for some time now. The big move in his price for the race came following his impressive win in the Racing Post Novice Chase at Leopardstown on Boxing Day.
Henry De Bromhead’s six-year-old wasn’t exactly an outsider that day but was sent off as a 7/1 shot in a race which was supposed to be dominated by Fakir D'oudairies and Laurina, so the quality of his run was a surprise. It was even more impressive given that he was 7lb worse off than Fakir D'oudairies but Mark Walsh gave him a great ride, sitting just off the strong pace before digging deep to hold on for the win.
Notebook will renew hostilities with Fakir D'oudairies off level weights in the Arkle Chase so it’s no surprise that he’s been well backed at the head of the betting. The big question, though, is whether he represents value for a repeat performance at a general price of 11/4 at a track which just may not suit.
Notebook certainly didn’t run well on his previous Cheltenham appearance and has done his best work so far on much flatter tracks so the bookies could well have an early feather in their cap with a beaten favourite on the first day of Cheltenham.
FAKIR D’OUDAIRIES (4/1)
The Cheltenham Festival is a massive occasion on the sporting calendar and always attracts fans who don’t usually watch a lot of horse racing. Even those who don’t watch much racing at all are sure to be mightily impressed by what they see from Fakir D’oudairies on Tuesday afternoon.
It’s the boldness and confidence of Joseph O’Brien’s five-year-old that most catches the eye. Whilst it may be tough for his jockey to keep a lid on Fakir D’oudairies’ natural exuberance, his sheer will to race shines through and has helped him pull off some big performances so far.
This looks a fairly open renewal of the Arkle Chase so there are some concerns about Fakir D'oudairies as there are with every horse in the field. He was outpaced in the closing stages of the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at last year’s Cheltenham Festival and there’s that Boxing Day defeat at Leopardstown to avenge. However, he is still improving and has proven form over 2½ miles, so looks like he should have plenty in the locker to lead the race for home up the Cheltenham hill even if he has made all.
Olly Murphy is one of those trainers who casual racing fans won’t have heard much, if anything, about but who those with their finger on the pulse will be keeping a close eye on over the week. He heads to Cheltenham with a couple of very good fancies for Grade 1 success including Brewin’upastorm at odds of 11/2 here in the Arkle Chase.
There is a feeling amongst some judges that the novice chasing form this season isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Consequently, the bookies are finding it tough to correctly price up these races whilst punters have an almost impossible job trying to accurately assess where the value is. Brewin’upastorm is one of those who can capitalise should that assessment prove to be correct.
After narrowly winning his first race of the season over 2 miles at Carlisle, he then looked even better when stepped up in trip to land the Michael Spiers Novices’ Chase over 18 furlongs. That shows he has both the pace for the Arkle and the stamina to dig in should the going prove to be sticky so he’s certainly one to keep in mind.
Arkle Chase Winners
|2020||Put The Kettle On||16/1||Henry De Bromhead||Aidan Coleman|
|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|
About the Arkle Challenge Trophy: A Stepping Stone for Potential Greats
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, though this will be just below £74,000 in 2021. 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|
|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.
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 (as of the 2020 Cheltenham Festival).