The Arkle Trial, currently known as the November Novices’ Chase (From The Horse’s Mouth Podcast Novices’ Chase), is a race run on the second and middle day of the Cheltenham November Meeting.
This contest first took place in 1987 and is a preparation race for the Arkle Chase which runs on the first day of the Cheltenham Festival.
Perhaps the most famous winner of this trial was Best Mate who went on to win three Cheltenham Gold Cups for trainer Henrietta Knight.
Next Race: TBD
The next renewal of this race has not been scheduled yet. We will update this once the schedule has been released for next season. The race info, trends and tips shown below will be updated for the next renewal once the final declarations have been made.
Last Run: 14th November 2020
- Winner: Eldorado Allen
- SP: 13/2
- Trainer: Colin Tizzard
- Jockey: Robbie Power
This one is a little confusing on the naming front but is technically registered as the November Novices' Chase and was previously known as the Arkle Trophy Trial Novices' Chase. It has a new name this time around but 2m is the trip for the Grade 2 contest, which takes place on Day 2 of Cheltenham’s November Meeting (formerly the Open Meeting – keep up!). There's £30,000 in total prize money on offer in this event, with the ground at the track currently described as good to soft but with a decent chance that it will firm up a little come race day.
|Going||Distance||Grade||Prize Money||Runners||EW Terms|
|Good to Soft||2m||Grade 2||£30,000||6 Runners||1/4 1-2|
Arkle Trial Novices' 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.
Multiple champion National Hunt trainer Paul Nicholls is way out in front in the trainers’ table for this event having recorded an impressive 10 previous wins in the race. Successful with the likes of Azertyuiop and Dodging Bullets in the past, as well as his most recent victor Le Prezien (in 2016), the Ditcheat handler sends Quel Destin into battle this time around and that five year old certainly has a chance of making it 11 for Nicholls.
Dunraven Strom defied his years when winning this as a nine year old in 2014 but unsurprisingly -considering this is an event tailored for runners towards the start of their chase careers - youth has been favoured here, with each of the other nine winners in the past decade being aged six or younger. Indeed, horses aged five or six have won 10 of the last 11, although four year olds won in 2008 (Tatenen) and 2006 (Fair Along).
The market leaders have shown a respectable 40% strike rate in this contest over the past decade, but with three of those four winners having returned an odds-on SP, supporters of the favourite have still been handed a level stakes loss of -£2.81. We have a small field this year and a firm favourite, although with none of the six-strong field likely to go off at longer than 10/1 this really could be anyone’s race.
|Fusil Raffles||5/4||152||Nicky Henderson||Daryl Jacob|
|Quel Destin||9/2||155||Paul Nicholls||Harry Cobden|
Fusil Raffles – 5/4
Nicky Henderson has landed this twice in the past, most recently with Captain Conan in 2012, and it is the Seven Barrows-based trainer who is responsible for the favourite in the 2020 edition, with his five year old, Fusil Raffles, clear at the head of the market.
Joining Henderson from Guillaume Macaire in November 2018, this one made a hugely impressive start to his hurdling career in this country. A perfect three from three in his first three starts, with those wins coming at Grade 2 (twice) and Grade 1 level - when seeing off the talented Fakir D’oudairies at Punchestown - he looked set to be big contender for all of the major hurdling prizes.
Then it all went wrong. Pulled up when sent off as the joint favourite for the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton, he was then thumped by 26 lengths in last season’s Champion Hurdle. And that was that for his career over the smaller obstacles, with the son of Saint Des Saints being sent straight over fences this season following a 199-day break.
On the early evidence the long rest and the switch to chasing seems to have reignited the fire. Pretty impressive when seeing off the useful Quick Grabim on chase debut at Uttoxster, he was then even better when slamming the field by nine lengths over this course and distance last time out. Those two wins when odds-on favourite set him up perfectly for this and he really is hard to oppose.
A repeat of those displays will certainly make him tough to beat here, but we would have a slight concern should the ground come up soft. Fusil Raffles’s only two Hurdles defeats in Britain came in his only two outings on soft but with sun forecast ahead of the race that may well prove not to be an issue.
Quel Destin – 9/2
Colin Tizzard’s Eldorado Allen boasts a similar profile to Fusil Raffles, having lost his way over hurdles but seeming to be reinvigorated over the larger obstacles this season. His verdict over Stormy Ireland last time out really caught the eye and definitely brings him onto the shortlist for this. He seems set to go off as second favourite. However, when looking for an alternative to the market leader, it’s hard to ignore the impressive record of Paul Nicholls in this race.
Nicholls’s sole entry Quel Destin was the best of this lot over hurdles according to the official handicapper, with the pick of his eight successes coming in the Grade 1 Juvenile Hurdle at Chepstow. The fact that he is also two from three on the Old Course at Cheltenham – over which this race takes place – also augurs well for his chance. This one may well be hoping things do not dry out though. As a four-time winner on good to soft or worse going, we can be pretty confident that he will handle the conditions if they stay as they are or even get a little softer.
There is however one big question mark, and that comes with that fact that he will be making his chase debut here. Having said that, there is no man who knows what it takes to win this race more than Nicholls and we can’t imagine that the horse would be plunged into such deep waters first time up were he not showing all the right signs over the larger obstacles at home. Fit and well from a recent comeback win on the flat, he can be fancied to run a big race and is certainly worth a look if you aren’t sure the value is there with the market leader.
Arkle Trial Novices' Chase Winners
|2020||Eldorado Allen||13/2||Colin Tizzard||Robbie Power|
|2019||Put The Kettle On||6/1||Henry De Bromhead||Aidan Coleman|
|2018||Lalor||11/2||Kayley Woollacott||Richard Johnson|
|2017||North Hill Harvey||6/4||Dan Skelton||Harry Skelton|
|2016||Le Prezien||8/11||Paul Nicholls||Barry Geraghty|
|2015||Garde La Victoire||8/15||Philip Hobbs||Richard Johnson|
|2014||Dunraven Storm||7/2||Philip Hobbs||Richard Johnson|
|2013||Dodging Bullets||2/1||Paul Nicholls||Daryl Jacob|
|2012||Captain Conan||11/10||Nicky Henderson||Barry Geraghty|
|2011||Al Ferof||5/6||Paul Nicholls||Ruby Walsh|
About the Arkle Trial: Pointers For Big Cheltenham Race
Arkle is widely regarded as the greatest jumps horse of all time. The Irish superstar won the Cheltenham Gold Cup three years in a row in 1964, 1965 and 1966 and is still held in the highest regard.
You’ll find mentions of Arkle throughout National Hunt racing including the Grade 1 race that bears his name at the Cheltenham Festival, the Arkle Challenge Trophy. There are many important trials for that Grade 1 novice chase including the Racing Post Arkle Trial Novices’ Chase which is run over the same course and distance in November.
One of Many Trials
On paper, there is no better trial for the Arkle at the Cheltenham Festival than the Arkle Trial Novices’ Chase. Both races take place over a distance of two miles, both are run over the Old Course at Cheltenham and both feature 13 fences in running.
Many horses have tried and failed to win big races of all different types at Cheltenham but have fallen short due to the fact it is left-handed or because of the Cheltenham hill that horses must sprint up on their way to the finish. You would think, therefore, that trainers and owners would make sure their leading Arkle hopes take the trial in. That is not the case however.
The history of the Arkle Chase goes back to 1987 when it was run as the Coventry Novices’ Chase. In all the years since (up to 2019) only once has a horse won the Arkle Trial before winning the Arkle at the Cheltenham Festival. Ironically, there are few horses who needed an ideal trial for the Arkle less than Azertyuiop who was the 5/4 favourite for both races.
Following the Market Often Pays Off
The Arkle Trial may not have a stellar record for producing winners of the Arkle but rightly retains a reputation for producing quality horses. Since 2010 it’s been won by the likes of Al Ferof, who had plenty of success as a chaser, and Dodging Bullets, who won a string of Grade 1 chases including the Champion Chase. Then there’s three-time Gold Cup winner, Best Mate, for whom this race was his first Graded win over fences.
Not every winner goes on to great things but they must put in a very good performance to get over the line in this Grade 2 affair. Usually, the winner of the race is relatively signposted. Between 2008 and 2019, half of all favourites won whilst only three winners came from outside the top three in the betting.
At least one previous run at Cheltenham is a serious benefit to any horse lining up in the Arkle Trial. The majority of recent winners had already been tested up the hill at Prestbury Park whilst those who have already broken their duck over fences should be preferred over those who are yet to lose their maiden tag. The other thing for punters to look for is high class form over hurdles as many winners had already won a Grade 1 before they switched to fences.