Arkle Challenge Trophy Date is March, 10, 2020
Type: Grade 1 National Hunt Steeplechase (2 miles, 13 fences)
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Known to most simply as The Arkle, a race named after the great three-time Gold Cup winner, the Arkle Challenge Trophy is the top novice chase for two-milers of the whole season and takes place on day one of the Cheltenham Festival.
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Arkle Challenge Trophy 2020 Preview & Tips
Preview By Frank Monkhouse
Former professional boxer who is now a content writer specialising in sports and betting. Has worked for some of the biggest names in the industry, including Coral and Betfair covering all manner of sports, from boxing and football to horse racing. A student of the formbook, he loved stats, trends, numbers and how they can guide punters towards a winner.
During the two-mile trip the novice chase field, all aged five or over, must take thirteen fences of the Old Course in this Grade 1 contest with the winner almost immediately being installed as one of the favourites for the following year’s Queen Mother Champion Chase over the same course and distance.
The Arkle Challenge Trophy 2020 is run on Tuesday March 10th at 2.10PM, just the second race of the Cheltenham Festival’s day 1, and will be worth a huge £182,000 in total. Despite this being a novice event, it is almost guaranteed that all of the top five or so trainers from both Britain and Ireland will attempt to have runners in this contest.
Antepost Key Runners & Favourites
While official entries are not yet open for the Cheltenham Arkle Challenge Trophy in March, ante post betting is very much alive and has been for a while as the top two-mile novice chasers are already making themselves known on both sides of the Irish Sea, all the top trainers having sent out contenders of sorts.
The market is wide open at this stage though, Laurina’s impressive chase debut moving her straight to the front of the betting but at no less than 4/1 with 5/1 generally available across the board which is similar to Drinmore Chase winner Fakir D’oudairies.
New candidates may yet show themselves to be capable over the Christmas period, but on all known evidence we can already begin to whittle down the field a little to give ourselves a chance of landing a value ante post bet.
Angels Breath & Al Dancer
The first one to take into consideration is Nicky Henderson’s Angels Breath, though it must be said his most likely destination will probably be the two-and-a-half mile JLT Novices’ Chase on Thursday.
An easy winner at Ascot on his chase debut, Angels Breath stayed on very well that day which bodes well for running at Cheltenham however it would appear he wants a little further ideally, not that he wouldn’t enter calculations even more should the ground be very testing in March, a situation that would lead to his stamina coming in handy.
Fellow grey Al Dancer, a 151-rated hurdler in the past, has made a good start to chasing but he havs also been beaten over the Arkle course and distance already, fair and square it must be said. Regardless of his undoubted potential it would be difficult to envisage him climbing the ranks quite enough at this stage to take an Arkle but it is not out of the question just yet either.
The aforementioned Laurina, the mare trained by Willie Mullins in Ireland, already has an encouraging Cheltenham Festival record having won the Dawn Run Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle in 2018 before returning to finish fourth in last season’s Champion Hurdle, albeit some way off the pace at just 5/2.
She was rated 159 officially over hurdles and the level to which she ran when winning on her chase debut at Gowran Park suggests she is arguably already that good over the bigger obstacles, meaning with natural improvement and with the mares’ allowance taken into consideration she is very much a genuine favourite at this stage.
Having been turned over in a championship race before against the boys however and with there being doubts over whether or not two miles will be too short for her now, she doesn’t represent terrific early value just at the moment.
Fakir D’oudairies & Samcro
Two contenders for this race along with the JLT Novices’, Fakir D’oudairies and Samcro, had a battle of their own recently in the Drinmore Novice Chase at Fairyhouse and the result there has split opinion. With Fakir going off favourite and jumping very well he looked set to score, only for Samcro to loom large in the closing stages full of running.
Samcro then crashed out at the penultimate fence leading many to speculate that he would have won if it were not for his fall, leading to his price rather strangely contracting for the JLT, if not for this race.
For what it’s worth, our opinion is that Fakir D’oudairies would have found more had they entered a battle up the straight given that he’d conserved so much energy via his superior jumping and given how inexperienced he is overall, he is bound to improve plenty between now and March.
Joseph O’Brien’s charge was fourth in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the last festival as just a four-year-old, and it is easy to see him peaking to become a genuine top-class chaser come this year’s event and it’s felt that he may well prove to be the class act in the pack.
Check out our list of Cheltenham betting sites for the list of TOP 15 bookies to place a bet on upcoming Festival.
Arkle Challenge Trophy Stats & Trends
As you’ll see from our results table, the Arkle trends are sadly obvious but it is to be expected as in most years an outstanding candidate comes forward in this division who, if anything, could probably be competitive in the Queen Mother Champion Chase.
This Season’s Form
Every single one of the last ten winners of this race has won last time out, even including 33/1 shock winner Western Warhorse. Eight of the 10 winners have run no more than three times that season too with one of the exceptions being the tough and unbeaten Altior, so there does seem to be enough evidence to suggest that those having a hard season may not be allowed to reach their peak when it counts here.
True, we’re going for what will be a five-year-old who could be exceptional this year, but all of the last ten Arkle winners have been aged 6+, and nine out of 10 have been aged 6 or 7. This can generally be explained away by the fact that those with a little more experience can handle this occasion better, but ultimately this is a novice race that will be won by the best horse on show if all is fair, regardless of their age.
We’ve seen some superstars win this race in recent times and therefore we’ve had to put up with some very restrictive SP’s. Although this race was taken by the market leader six years out of 7, that figure remains at six even when looking at all of the last 10 winners so the favourite isn’t necessarily to be seen as a good thing in this race.
With the exception of Western Warhorse, no winner in the last ten year has gone off at an SP bigger than 6/1, so that has to be the area to concentrate on especially if they are a last time out winner. The most successful jockey in the Arkle is a title shared by Ruby Walsh, now retired, and Barry Geraghty who could be back for more on March 10th. Each rider has won this race four times.
Nicky Henderson is the most successful trainer with six victories and that is very much something to keep in mind. He is an expert with these two-mile types and he has a string of horses every bit as powerful as at any time in his training career, so whatever he chooses to run will surely go well.
Arkle Challenge Trophy Tips
Whether we like it or not, racing like any sport is a numbers game in so many ways. Taking a close look at the ratings applied to each of these contenders, allied to what rate of improvement is expected of them as they gain more experience over the course of the season, it very much seems that FAKIR D’OUDAIRIES should go on to become a top-level performer and it’s not as though he can’t handle Cheltenham.
There’s still a possibility of course that Joseph O’Brien may see him more as a two-and-a-half mile type and as such the JLT is still on the agenda for which he can be backed at bigger prices ‘non-runner, no bet’, but we’d very much like to see him in this event instead.
The bookmakers certainly think he has a better chance in this race too given that he is the general 5/1 joint-favourite at the time of writing, but should he go on to land another novice chase easily in Ireland and perhaps nail a Grade 1 before March, his price will contract massively.
Arkle Challenge Trophy Ante Post Tip: FAKIR D’OUDAIRIES
Arkle Betting Offers
Cheltenham Festival offers will be plentiful and enticing come March, especially where the top two-mile novice chase of the season is concerned, but in taking a look at last year’s deals there is much speculation as to what we will be given.
In 2019 Ladbrokes’ Bet £5 Get £20 Cheltenham Special was very popular on all four days, as was the Double Your Winnings on the First Race Everyday at Cheltenham which was put up by their sister company Coral.
Arkle Challenge Trophy Betting Guide
Final declarations for this race will be made by trainers on Sunday March 8th and at that point we can come up with much more accurate Arkle Challenge Trophy tips.
Our early selection Fakir D’oudairies has attracted around 21% of all ante post bets so far, while around 16% are backing Laurina at this stage and 8% are on 25/1 outsider Getaway Trump. This will fluctuate plenty over the coming months but if you are going to bet early, make sure you claim a price with a ‘non-runner, no bet’ caveat to protect yourself should your selection ultimately not be entered into this race.
When the final field is known, live betting options will be plentiful not only in the straight win market, but also markets ‘without the favourite’ and with odds boosts no doubt available with most major online firms.
Arkle Challenge Trophy Past Winners
Here are the last ten winners to have taken the Arkle:
|2019||Duc De Genievres||231||6||5/1||Paul Townend||Willie Mullins|
|2018||Footpad||111||6||5/6f||Ruby Walsh||Willie Mullins|
|2017||Altior||1111||7||1/4f||Nico de Boinville||Nicky Henderson|
|2016||Douvan||111||6||1/4f||Ruby Walsh||Willie Mullins|
|2015||Un De Sceaux||F11||7||4/6f||Ruby Walsh||Willie Mullins|
|2014||Western Warhorse||261||6||33/1||Tom Scudamore||David Pipe|
|2013||Simonsig||11||7||8/15f||Barry Geraghty||Nicky Henderson|
|2012||Sprinter Sacre||111||6||8/11f||Barry Geraghty||Nicky Henderson|
|2011||Captain Chris||22221||7||6/1||Richard Johnson||Philip Hobbs|
|2010||Sizing Europe||111||8||6/1||Andrew Lynch||Henry De Bromhead|
In 2019, Arkle Challenge Trophy betting was typically lively as many in the crowd were already ahead of the bookmakers with just one race run, with no one horse really taking the market by the scruff of the neck.
What Happened in 2019?
Gordon Elliott’s Hardline ultimately went off the 10/3 favourite with Mick Channon’s Glen Forsa next in at 9/2, Willie Mullins’ Duc De Genievres at 5/1 and the well-fancied Kalashnikov at 6/1.
It was a hugely eventful race in the end, Glen Forsa unseating his rider early on and with that still being communicated by race commentators, Kalashnikov was interfered with two fences later and also crashed out.
With Hardline never really going as well as expected and the other two main rivals having fallen out of contention early in the race, the way was paved clear for Duc De Genievres to go clear which he did, winning the race in impressive fashion visually by a full 13 lengths.