Arkle tips – best bets as Ireland look set to dominate
Daryl Carter (@DarylCarter7) kicks off his Cheltenham 2020 tips series here as he eyes up the second race of the Festival, the Arkle Chase.
This year’s Grade 1 Arkle Novice Chase is looking firmly in the grip of the Irish raiders right now. Ireland have won four of the last five renewals of this race and the British are notably lacking in depth, highlighted by some weak trial races.
Six of the top eight in the betting are Irish trained runners and all hold some sort of chance at Cheltenham in March and it will probably pay to steer clear of any British runners this term unless they are markedly over-priced.
Arkle Tips – Strong Irish challenger
FAKIR D’OUDAIRIES is a good place to start. He proved himself to be a useful hurdler last season but has undoubtedly improved for a fence in his novice chasing campaign to date. His slick jumping enables him to punish his rivals mistakes and gain ground where many other lose it.
His first start of the season at Navan was impressive, beating Champion Hurdle runner-up Melon by three lengths with the minimum of fuss in receipt of 8lb. The form of that run has not really worked out, but it is easy to argue that many in the field were simply “out for a run”. The runner-up boosted the form next time but was made to work hard for it by a chase debutant and he looks to have an uphill task turning the form around.
Fairyhouse was his next port of call over 2m4f and he impressed yet again with his fluent jumping off the front end before his closest market rival came down at the second-last, that left the crowds with more questions than answers, but subsequent events suggest that the Joseph O’Brien runner may have had Samcro covered.
However, he failed his toughest test to date against the ante-post favourite for this race, Notebook, in the Racing Post Arkle trial at Leopardstown where he finished second. It may be too soon to give up on him but he will need to go from the front end and have a soft lead, which he is not guaranteed to get at the Cheltenham Festival and he will be 7lb worse off at the weights with Notebook which suggests he will need to improve again.
One to avoid
BAPAUME is an interesting horse towards the head of the market but you have to go all the way back to February 2018 to find his last run over two miles, in which he finished last of eight. He finished fourth in the Stayers’ Hurdle last season and the fact he’s entered for this race suggests there is a lack of depth in this division.
He was visually impressive at Naas on his second chase start this season but that was over three furlongs further than the Arkle trip and he has other engagements over slightly further before Cheltenham, suggesting connections may be overly ambitious in attempting to turn him into an Arkle contender. His participation at the Cheltenham Festival is probably no longer a foregone conclusion given he was beaten 56 lengths by Notebook at the Dublin Racing Festival.
Best of the British
BREWIN’UPASTORM looks the best of the British novices on day one of the Cheltenham Festival and is likely to line up in the Arkle, with Grade 1-winning stablemate ITCHY FEET heading to the Marsh Novice Chase. Brewin’upastorm’s early-season form at Carlisle has worked out extremely well with the runner-up, third and fourth (Grade 2) all coming out to win next time.
It may prove wise to take that with a pinch of salt with those runners having their first start of the season but he remains an excellent recruit and ranks high on the list of the British challengers despite being yet to win in Graded company.
The one to beat
After highlighting the lack of depth in this race, it’s worth concentrating now on NOTEBOOK as the likely winner. Before his success in the Grade 1 victory in the Racing Post Arkle his form did not appear top class, but he has improved with each start and he looked a powerful winner of that race and clocked striking closing sectional timings.
That race has proven to be a good guide to Cheltenham Festival Arkle winners and it’s a surprise that Notebook is still as big as 7/2 for the race. He has shown all the right attributes to warrant being an Arkle favourite on Cheltenham Festival day one and enhanced his claims by landing his second Grade 1 of the season at the Dublin Racing Festival.
One to watch
CASH BACK is held on hurdle form by the market leader Notebook but he has taken a significant step forward over fences. A tough front runner, who had things all his own way at Leopardstown but still found the strong staying Notebook too good, he rates a solid each-way bet at the Festival but there is nothing from their latest meeting to suggest that the form would be turned around at the Cheltenham Festival.
Arkle tips – Big race verdict
It’s hard not to be impressed by NOTEBOOK and ante-post backers should be rejoicing after his win at the Dublin Racing Festival considering that race has been notoriously tougher than the Arkle at Cheltenham in recent years. The British look weak in this division and Notebook looks home and hosed.