Whilst the Paul Nicholls stable’s entries appear to be dominant in the antepost market for the Arkle Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March, there are still other trainers who believe that they too have live chances. Currently Nicholls has Tatenem, Free World, Kicks For Free, I’msingtheblues and Breedsbreeze all of which are high in the betting and even at this early stage in the season, appear to have good claims. Tatenen looked particularly impressive when winning the Independent Newspapers Novices Chase at Cheltenham recently and has justifiably earned favouritism for the race.
One trainer who seems confident enough to take on the formidable Nicholls string is Ferdy Murphy. His seven year old, Kalahari King, proved that he too could be a real candidate for the Cheltenham race after producing a highly impressive display at Leicester on November 18th. As a result, his odds for the race have been shortened in to best price 12/1 (second favourite behind Tatenem) with Ladbrokes.
Kalahari King has form at Cheltenham too, he was fourth in the Supreme Novices Hurdle last year, but based on this Leicester performance he looks like he will be a much better horse over fences. He was giving 20lb away to Shatabdi, a good horse rated at 134, but still strolled home very comfortably under jockey Graham Lee, who was quick to point out that this was more than just a good performance. It looks like Murphy will run him again around Christmas time and after that he would go straight to the Festival.
The Arkle form book is more often than not an ideal start when looking to find the winner of the race, but the first thing punters should note is that there are rarely any shocks. The winner is usually amongst the favourites, they usually have has excellent recent form and any quality course form is a big bonus. It is often whittled to a smallish field but this does not detract from the race in the slightest, as the Arkle runners are usually the best novice chasers around. It is a very stern test and the horses will be prepared to run faster and jump better than they have ever before.
It will come as no surprise therefore to learn that many of the winners of this race have gone onto bigger and better things. Flagship Uberalles, Moscow Flyer, Azertyuiop and Voy Por Ustedes are just a few of the recent winners who have gone on to win a later renewal of the Queen Mother Chase at the Festival. The race has also produced two very recent Cheltenham Gold Cup winners, in War of Attrition and Kicking King.