We may only be in mid November but already the Arkle Chase at Cheltenham in March is shaping up to be one of the highlights of the entire Festival. The latest Novice Chaser to stake a claim for the race is Overturn who made his debut over the bigger obstacles at Sandown over the weekend. The Donald McCain horse is widely considered as the best dual purpose horse currently in training with successes in the Chaster Vase and the Northumberland Plate on the level to his name so far. Perhaps his best run so far though came last season when he finished second in the Champion Hurdle behind Rock On Ruby and connections are equally hopeful he can be a major player over fences. That certainly looked the case at Sandown on Saturday as he hacked up to win the Bet On Todays Football @BlueSQ.Com Beginners Chase over two miles on good to soft ground and he looks like a horse to follow over the coming months.
It's well worth noting that Overturn beat very little at Sandown but he jumped with style and the bookmakers were impressed enough to trim his Arkle Chase price. Only Simonsig is a shorter price than Overturn for the big two mile novice chase at Cheltenham and it will be fascinating to follow the progress of Overturn has he continues his chasing career. As well as Overturn there were a number of other impressive performances to take in over the weekend with half an eye on the Festival. Paul Nicholls sent out the first two home in the Elite Hurdle at Wincanton with former Triumph Hurdle winner Zarkandar coming out on top ahead of the game Prospect Wells. At this stage Zarkandar is on target for the Champion Hurdle in March but he could be stepped up in trip with connections still deciding on an exact route for the half brother of Zarkava. Over in Ireland we saw the excellent Flemenstar make his seasonal debut at Navan and he duly hacked up in the Fortria Chase ahead of Big Zeb. The Peter Casey horse has long been touted for big things and all the signs suggest he could well be a major player in the Gold Cup market in March if he produces the stamina required.