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Dominant Douvan Destined For Arkle Glory With Sizing John Chasing Him Home

Wednesday 17th February 2016

He will be most punter's banker heading into the 2016 Cheltenham Festival, but is Douvan entitled to be a red-hot odds-on favourite for the Arkle Challenge Trophy on the opening day of the National Hunt extravaganza. We preview the Grade 1 novice chase here, and try to find some value in an intriguing ante-post market.

Douvan Destined To Dominate Arkle As Rivals Set To Be Scared Off

When Sprinter Sacre stormed to glory in the 2012 Arkle Challenge Trophy, he only had to beat five rivals, but this year's renewal could see an even smaller turnout for the second race of the meeting, as the mighty Douvan, who has fast become one of the finest equine talents in National Hunt racing, could well scare a multitude of rivals away, as he looks to record his second Cheltenham Festival success in a row.

A runaway four-and-a-half length winner of the Supreme Novices' Hurdle last season, Douvan has blossomed over fences and three wins out of three over the larger obstacles has seen him plummet in price in recent months and he is currently a best-priced 2/5 with Betfred to win the Arkle.

He followed up a facile win on his chasing debut at Navan, with an 18-length annihilation of Sizing John in the Grade 1 Racing Post Novice Chase at Leopardstown on Boxing Day, before dowining Velvet Maker by 15 lengths in the Arkle Novice Chase a month later.

In all three of those wins the six-year-old Willie Mullins-trained superstar was hardly forced out of second gear, and he showed last season with his authoritative win in the Supreme that he relishes the undulations of Cheltenham, and it appears he only has to jump round to continue his dominance in this sphere.

Naturally, you try to pick holes in such short-priced favourites, but Douvan looks unbeatable on paper, and with a host of runners likely to avoid this race in favour of the JLT Novices' Chase later in the week, then the son of Walk In The Park could well just have that, as only handful of runners will take him on in what could turn into a procession.

Henderson Ready To Unleash Dual Attack

Nicky Henderson saddled the aforementioned Sprinter Sacre to glory in this race four years ago, before retaining his crown with Simonsig a year later, and the Seven Barrows maestro will aim to regain the title and is set to unleash a notable dual-pronged attack at Douvan.

A five-times winning trainer in this race, Henderson's primary challenger is set to be Vaniteux, who was last seen grabbing victory in the Grade 2 Lightning Novices' Chase at Doncaster, and is second in the ante-post betting at 6/1 with Paddy Power.

Visually unimpressive in that win on Town Moor, Vaniteux had previously been beaten by Ar Mad in the Wayward Lad Novices' Chase at Kempton Park, but whilst that Gary Moore-trained runner will not line up after he picked up an injury earlier this week, Vaniteux will struggle to produce a career best performance to challenge Douvan, and with five defeats out of five at Cheltenham is he is certainly one to avoid.

L'Ami Serge was touted as Douvan's potential biggest worry, but a woeful effort in the Kingmaker Novices' Chase at Warwick last weekend left admirers scratching their heads, and with his jumping looking far from fluent, he is another of the Henderson charge that will struggle, and at 16/1 with Ladbrokes is unbackable.

Sizing John The Tip In Betting Without Douvan

With Douvan looking a certainty, bookmakers have drafted up a betting without market and that is where more potential value lies for punters and the 6/1 available with BetVictor for Sizing John is the way to go, as he aims to grab another Cheltenham Festival placed finish.

A seven-length third in last year's Supreme Novices' Hurdle, Sizing John has not been seen on the track since he chased home Douvan on Boxing Day, but prior to that festive effort he landed a taking Grade 2 win at Punchestown, and he could prove to be the biggest danger to the jolly.

He is currently entered for both the Arkle and the JLT, but his trainer Henry de Bromhead has already expressed his preference for the Arkle, as he is yet to run over further than two miles, one furlong, and while he will find it extremely tough to down Douvan, he could stalk his fellow Irish rival and looks to have the class to beat the rest of his potential opposition, so the 6/1 in the betting without Douvan is a cracking bet.

Of the others, Garde La Victoire is another with multiple entries and the 20/1 shot with Paddy Power could be sidetracked down the JLT route, as stamina should be no issue for that race, whilst punters may take a flyer in snapping up the 20/1 with Betfred for The Game Changer, as he looks to be one of the only entries that could take his place, but whilst his jumping is sound enough, he will not finish in the same parish as the dominant Douvan.

Selection - Sizing John (betting w/o Douvan) in Arkle Challenge Trophy @ 6/1 with BetVictor.com

*Price correct at time of writing

2016 Arkle Challenge Trophy Betting

Kalashnikov 5/1
Mengli Khan 12/1
Claimantakinforgan 12/1
Melon 12/1
Laurina 16/1
Paloma Blue 16/1
Vision Des Flos 20/1
Marias Benefit 20/1
Summerville Boy 20/1
Getabird 20/1
Defi Du Seuil 25/1
Jenkins 25/1
Slate House 33/1
Leoncavallo 66/1
Each Way Terms 3

Odds correct as of 10th Apr, 13:30 . Odds are subject to change.

Betting Without Douvan

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