Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy Novices’ Chase (Cheltenham) Betting Tips & Preview – Tuesday 13th March 2018

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 2018? Willie Mullins has proven to be a man to follow in the Grade 1 chase contests at the Festival over the years, and the master of Closutton is fancied to strike again here.

Top Tips

Footpad to win @ 5/4

Odds correct at time of writing but may have changed since. Check site for latest prices.

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Race Information

A small field go to post for this Grade 1 Chase contest over a trip of 2m. A total of £175,000 in total prize money is up for grabs with the ground expected to be soft on the day.

GoingDistanceGradePrize MoneyRunnersEW Terms
Soft 2m Grade 1 £175,000 5 1/4 1-2

Recent Winners

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.

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

Analysis: Footpad To Score For Favourite Backers

There may be only five runners, but this race really sums up what the Festival is all about, as two talented performers from across the Irish sea lock horns with the best of the British Novices.

Impressive Pad Ready To Launch On Big Stage

It often pays to take note of a trainer’s comments regarding the horses in their care. When someone with the profile and calibre of Willie Mullins states that he has never had a runner school better over fences, we really need to sit up and take notice. Footpad is the horse to whom those comments referred, and he bids to cement his burgeoning reputation in the Festival’s big Novices’ Chase. Three runs over fences to date have seen the son of Creachadoir gallop and jump his rivals into submission, including twice in Grade 1 company, and with soft ground holding no fears, he looks sure to go close.

Saint To Show The Way For Whittington

Should Footpad attempt to blow these away from the front, the rival who seems most likely to be able to keep tabs on him is Harry Whittington’s, Saint Calvados. This one was nothing like as good as Footpad over hurdles, only once racing in Graded company when being stuffed in a Grade 2 at Auteuil. The five year old has already improved massively on that effort over fences though, administering a thrashing of his own when putting the field to the sword in Warwick’s Grade 2 Kingmaker Novices’ Chase last time out. The ground looks to have come right for this bold jumping mud-lark and he likely won’t be far away.

Or Does Brain Have The Power?

Nicky Henderson has a better record than most here having taken the prize three times in the past six years with the supremely talented trio of Sprinter Scare, Simonsig and Altior. His representative this year, Brain Power, certainly isn’t in the same league as his predecessors just yet but has nevertheless shown glimpses of ability.

Brilliant when scoring by 28 lengths on chase debut, he was already beaten when unseating next time out at Sandown, but was in the process of posting a solid effort when falling behind Un De Sceaux in the Clarence House Chase last time. Having his first outing since a wind op here, he shouldn’t be dismissed lightly.

Final Verdict

Aside from rank outsider Robinshill, it’s hard to dismiss any of these with a great deal of confidence. The danger with Saint Calvados and Footpad is that they may take each other on from a long way out and set the race up for a closer. Ruby Walsh and Aidan Coleman are an experienced duo though and shouldn’t allow that scenario to unfold, and with Brain Power having questions to answer we do see this coming down to the Mullins and Whittington runners.

Footpad has been the subject of a slight drift in the market of late, but that may be more to do with the ground conditions now seeming certain to suit Saint Calvados rather than anything being amiss. Already a dual Grade 1 winner over fences and a solid fourth in the Champion Hurdle last year at this track, Footpad looks the class act in this line-up and is fairly priced for the win.

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