Every race is a vital one at this stage of the season for horses who are heading to Cheltenham and the Irish Arkle looks to be one such example of this. The race is of course a big one in its own right but it also acts as a key trial race for punters with half an eye on the upcoming Cheltenham Festival. The race at Leopardstown is run over 2m1f and has been won by some top notch horses in recent years including Flemenstar, Kicking King and Golden Silver among many others. The horse who is expected to add his name to that illustrious list this year is Arvika Ligeonniere who looks set to take his chance for Willie Mullins. The horse has been a big improver this season as a novice chaser and he will be going for his third win on the bounce this season at Leopardstown. Last time out we saw Arvika Ligeonniere hold off a charge from Oscars Well at Leopardstown to win the Racing Post Novice Chase on St Stephens Day and he is the odds on favourite for the Irish Arkle at the end of the month.
We know that Arvika Ligeonniere will be popped out in front as his want and a good run at Leopardstown will see his price for the Arkle Chase at Cheltenham slashed. The most obvious challenger to Arvika Ligeonniere in the Irish Arkle is likely to be another Mullins horse in the form of Boston Bob. At this stage Boston Bob is pencilled in for the race as connections look to get one more run into the horse before he returns to the Festival in March. The RSA Chase is likely to be the target for Boston Bob though so it might be too much to ask of the horse to win an Irish Arkle with stamina his key strength. He will likely be dropped out early on if he takes his chance in the race with a solid performance likely to put him in great shape ahead of a potential clash with Dynaste in the RSA Chase at Cheltenham. Other potential runners in the Irish Arkle include Oscars Well who was defeated by Arvika Ligeonniere last time out but remains a class act and Alderwood who his first race over fences just the other day at Navan. The betting market suggests the Irish Arkle could be one of the most important races of the season with a number of potential Cheltenham Festival horses set to test their claims at Leopardstown.