Arkle Chase Tips - 2:10pm Cheltenham

The Sporting Life Arkle Challenge Trophy Novices’ Chase has the potential to be one of the races of the week with the clash between England and Ireland in Shishkin v Energumene. The race is run on the old course and is 21 yards short of 2 miles.

A coupe of key stats for the race are that six or seven year olds have won all of the last ten renewals and 9 out of 10 have finished first or second on all completed chase starts.

Seven Barrows maestro Nick Henderson is looking for a record seventh victory in this historic race having triumphed with Remittance Man, Travado, Tiutchev, Sprinter Sacre, Simonsig and Altior. His representative this time round is the exciting Shishkin, who bar a fall at Newbury on his hurdles debut is unbeaten under rules. He found trouble in running to win the Supreme Novice Hurdle at the meeting last season and has come out and won all three of his chase starts, twice at Kempton and the Grade 2 Lightning Novices’ Chase at Doncaster at the end of January. Starting long odds on on each occasion. He hasn’t actually taken on anything of note bar the 149 rated Eldorado Allen at Doncaster but it’s been more the style in which he’s done it, jumping so efficiently and not making one mistake. Typically brought along gently by Henderson he’s sure to run a massive race. Nico De Boinville has ridden him in all his starts and knows him well.

Up until the Dublin Racing Festival it looked as though Shishkin was one of the bankers of the meeting but then Willie Mullin’s Energumene came out and annihilated his rivals in the Irish Arkle Novice Chase. He easily put some decent chasers to bed with his accurate jumping and actually clocked a faster time than Dublin Chase winner and Champion Chase favourite Chacun Pour Soi. That win took him to three from three over fences having coasted home at Gowran Park and Naas. Paul Townend will be in the saddle come race day for Tony Bloom’s exciting chaser.

Third favourite is Dan Skelton’s Allmankind who has made all to win all three of his starts over fences at Warwick (twice) and Sandown. He seems to need to force the pace and as Energumene has also forced it on all three of his victories you just hope that there’s no burn up up front. One things for sure Nico De Boinville will have to be very aware not to let Shishkin fall too far off the back of the likely strong pace.

Currently you can get 20/1 and upwards about all the other entries. Jonjo O’Neill’s Sky Pirate has found a new leash of life since dropping to the minimum distance winning good handicaps at Cheltenham and Warwick . He’s progressive and his official mark of 152 is only 2lb behind Allmankind and 10lb behind Shiskin but he was put firmly in his place by Allmankind in the Kingmaker Novices' Chase at Warwick and surely will now look at going down the handicap route.

Willie Mullins also has Franco De Port entered here but he was soundly put in his place by his stablemate Energumene at Leopardstown so is hard to fancy.

Nicky Henserson’s back up to Shiskin is Fusil Raffles in the double green of Munir and Souede and a winner of three of his four chases who is also entered in all three novice chases at the Festival.

A fascinating race that is probably going to be fought out by Shishkin and Energumene . It wouldn’t be a shock if either won and at the current prices it’s Mullin’s 7 year old that looks the better value.

Punters Lounge Tip: Energumene 11/4 at bet365 - Click Here To Bet
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