Arkle Chase Tips and Free Bets

Arkle Challenge Trophy Chase Preview: Tips, Betting Offers and Odds

The Cheltenham Festival isn’t all about the current stars of National Hunt racing. There are several races in which stars of the future are born and the Arkle Chase is very much among that number.

The strength of this two mile, Grade 1 race for novice chasers is made clear by the fact that the last three winners are Altior, Douvan and Un De Sceaux. The question is, who will follow in the footsteps of those top class chasers on the first day of the Festival?

Arkle Trophy Chase Tips and 2020 Race Preview

The Arkle Chase has developed a reputation for putting the icing on the cake of the novice chasing season of some incredibly high class animals over recent years. A steady string of odds-on favourites have got the job done lately but things look quite different for the 2020 edition.

There certainly isn’t an odds-on favourite in the field this year, with Notebook the shortest priced option at a general 11/4. As well as he ran when sat off the pace before striking for home in the Grade 1 Racing Post Novice Chase at Leopardstown on Boxing Day, he will surely find it tougher at Cheltenham where the chances of both Fakir D’oudairies and Brewin’upastorm look underplayed.

Those two will each need their best performance to date to deliver but that is a distinct possibility for two horses who have shown glimpses of high class form already yet still have bags of room for improvement. Fakir D’oudairies’ experience of Grade 1 competition marks him out as the more likely winner of the two but from a betting value perspective, Brewin’upastorm could prove to be one of the best bets of the first day of the Cheltenham Festival.

Arkle Challenge Trophy Chase Previous Winners

  • 2019 – Duc Des Genievres – jockey Paul Townend, trainer Willie Mullins
  • 2018 – Footpad – jockey Ruby Walsh, trainer Willie Mullins
  • 2017 – Altior – jockey Nico de Boinville, trainer Nicky Henderson
  • 2016 – Douvan – jockey Ruby Walsh, trainer Willie Mullins
  • 2015 – Un de Sceaux – jockey Ruby Walsh, trainer Willie Mullins
  • 2014 – Western Warhorse – jockey Tom Scudamore, trainer David Pipe
  • 2013 – Simonsig – jockey Barry Geraghty, trainer Nicky Henderson
  • 2012 – Sprinter Sacre – jockey Barry Geraghty, trainer Nicky Henderson
  • 2011 – Captain Chris – jockey Richard Johnson, trainer Philip Hobbs
  • 2010 – Sizing Europe – jockey Andrew Lynch, trainer Henry de Bromhead
  • 2009 – Forpadydeplasterer – jockey Barry Geraghty, trainer Tom Cooper
  • 2008 – Tidal Bay – jockey Denis O’Regan, trainer Howard Johnson
  • 2007 – My Way de Solzen – jockey Robert Thornton, trainer Alan King
  • 2006 – Voy Por Ustedes – jockey Robert Thornton, trainer Alan King

Arkle Trends – Experienced Two Milers Likely to Triumph

Minimum distance chasing is a hugely demanding division of National Hunt racing. Whilst some horses have been able to build on excellent performances over 2m chases and win big races over longer trips, many of the stars of this division are specialists.

These specialists over shorter trips litter the list of recent winners of the Arkle Challenge Trophy. Altior, Douvan, Un De Sceaux, they’ve all gone on to compete in big races such as the Queen Mother Champion Chase and the Celebration Chase at Sandown.

The importance of specialism applies to the novices competing in the Arkle Challenge Trophy. The vast majority of Arkle winners come into the race with plenty of experience over 2m. The trends show punters should focus on horses with two or more chasing appearances over the distance and at least one win over fences. It’s also worth having a look through the hurdling form of the leading contenders as the ability to handle smaller obstacles at pace can transfer to fences.

No Graded Win Equals (Almost) No Chance

It’s incredibly rare for a horse to claim their first Grade win in the Arkle. The calibre of recent winners means that the majority of winners have tasted success at Grade 1 or 2 level. Specific races to look at include the Game Spirit Stakes at Newbury, the Wayward Lad Chase at Kempton and the Kingmaker Novices’ Chase at Warwick, each of which are Grade 2s.

As the Arkle is viewed as a stepping stone to even bigger things by the most powerful yards the recent list of winning trainers includes many of the biggest names. Willie Mullins and Nicky Henderson have a particularly strong record with over 15 horses inside the places including a handful of wins between them.

Many of Mullins’ and Henderson’s winners were either the favourite or at least inside the top three of the betting. That’s a trend which has got stronger ever since the introduction of the JLT Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham saw a reduction in the field size for the Arkle.

Arkle Challenge Trophy Chase History

Initially run at the track as the Cotswold Chase from 1946, the race was given its current title in 1969. The decision was made to alter the name in order to honour one of the greatest, if not the greatest chaser in history, three time Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Arkle.

Restricted to novice chasers, the race proves to be the ultimate testing ground for the most highly regarded chasing prospects in training. Invariably run at a frenetic gallop, an ability to jump accurately at speed is put firmly under the microscope. To come out on top here generally marks a horse as being from the very top drawer.

A plethora of victors have followed up success in this race with major wins later in their career. Looking through the history books, it is unsurprisingly the two mile Queen Mother Champion Chase which is most likely to see an Arkle winner entering the winner’s enclosure at Cheltenham once again. Horses to achieve this double include, Flyingbolt, Flagship Uberalles, Remittence Man, Klarion Davis and the brilliant Sprinter Sacre.

Tom Dreaper’s Fortria and Irish superstar Moscow Flyer went on to win the two mile chase championship event on two occasions. The Arke is not as useful a pointer when looking for future Gold Cup wins, only 1978 winner Alverton has managed to go on to land that showpiece contest.

Due to its status as a novice event, this race can be fiendishly competitive. There is no danger of the previous year’s winner returning to defend their crown for one thing as they will have long since lost their novice status. This in turn can make it more difficult trainer to rack up a sequence of wins as they need to find a new horse for this race each year. Only one man has managed to win three consecutive editions, Bobby Norris took the very first three (1946-1949).

Until 2017 we had joint leaders when it comes to the trainer’s overall leader board for the Arkle. Nicky Henderson’s 2013 win with Simonsig put him level with Tom Dreaper who took the prize five times between 1958 and 1971. But then Altior’s 2017 win put Henderson ahead on his own as the leading trainer with six victories. Willie Mullins is not too far behind though having saddled four winners in five years from 2015 to 2019.

Barry Geraghty’s partnership with Sprinter Sacre and Simonsig for Nicky Henderson helped the Irishman move into the lead in the jockey’s standings with four wins, but Ruby Walsh caught him up after riding his fourth winner on Willie Mullins’ Footpad in 2018. Tom Dreaper’s jockey Glen Kelly, and Jamie Osborne, for three different trainers, both won three in a row but could not record another success.

Fred Winter is the only man to have both ridden and trained the winner here. He was the jockey aboard Flame Gun in 1959 and later sent out Soloning (1970) and Pendil (1972) to victory.

There is no strong bias present when looking at the ages of the winners. With 21 wins apiece from 1946-2017, six and seven-year-olds have proved most successful, five-year-olds come next with 14 wins followed by the eight-year-olds with 12. Nine-year-olds, Sir Ken and Danish Flight share the honours as the oldest winners of the race.