Arkle Chase Tips - 2:10pm Cheltenham

2020 Arkle Challenge Trophy Chase Preview

The first Grade 1 chase at the Festival is the Arkle over the minimum trip. Won last year for the fourth time five seasons by trainer Willie Mullins although the Irish haven’t had it all their own way as the English trainers have won the prize five times since 2011.

It’s a good race for punters in general with six favourites obliging in the last eight renewals although I have to say it does look and open contest this time round.

Leading fancy for this year is the Gigginstown Stud runner Notebook, now Gigginstown have won almost every national hunt race going but owner Michael O’Leary has yet to win the Arkle and with him scaling down the operation he may not get many more chances.

Notebook was a decent hurdler but not a Grade 1 horse but has been transformed with the introduction of fences. He won on his chase debut at Punchestown in October and hasn’t looked back since. He stepped up to a Grade 2 contest in November and took that by 5 lengths and then went up to the highest level at Leopardstown over Christmas.

He was a 7/1 shot that day behind the likes of Laurina and Fakir D’oudairies but took it up approaching the last to win by a length and a half. Last time out he went to the Dublin Festival in February and put in a simile performance to beat Cash Back in a tight finish. Once again it was more workmanlike than flashy but he just keeps pulling out that little bit extra and he will take all the beating here.

Fakir D’oudairies was fourth in the Supreme here last year and was no doubt a better hurdler than Notebook. He won on his chase debut at Navan beating the fancied Melon by 3 lengths. He then won a Grade 1 at Fairyhouse taking advantage of the unlucky fall by Samcro. He stayed on well when second to Notebook at Leopardstown and there is an argument that says the Cheltenham hill will be in his favour so it will be interesting to see what happens.

The Mullins team has a chance with the 8yo Cash Back, he’s another one who is proving to be a better chaser than a hurdler. Only won one of five starts over the smaller obstacles and has already passed that with two chase victories in three attempts.

Funny enough his best run was in defeat behind Notebook in the Arkle Novice Chase at Leopardstown. He only went down by ¾ of length and they will fancy their chances here.

Olly Murphy recently had his first Grade 1 winner with Itchy Feet and has another decent chance here with Brewin’upastorm. He made his chase debut up at Carlisle in October where he got the better of Good Boy Bobby in a very tight finish. Both horses probably needed the run that day but it was a satisfactory start.

Three weeks later he went to Taunton and beat Southfield Stone by an easy 4 lengths, the decision was made immediately to put him away after that and bring him back to Cheltenham a fresh horse. Time will tell if the plan works but he’s a promising chaser going forward. Global Citizen who was 7th in the Champion Hurdle last season made his chase debut in the same Carlisle race as Brewin’upastorm, he was well beaten that day but showed much improved form next time out at Kempton to win the Grade 2 Wayward Lad Chase, he was wearing a tongue strap for the first time that day and looked to be back to his best. If he can improve his jumping a tad he could be a danger to all.

The second horse at Kempton was Rouge Vif who had previously ran poorly here behind Put The Kettle On in November. He was immediately marked down for a wind operation and it certainly seemed to make a big difference on his comeback. If he can go on from that effort he could be an each way player here.

Nigel Twiston-Davies isn’t afraid to have a go at the big boys and Al Dancer is a useful sort on his day as he showed when winning the Betfair Hurdle last season. He opened his account over fences when winning on the old course back in October and at that stage looked to going the right way but three defeats since have rather put a dampener on things, he hasn’t been disgraced in any of his run so he could go well at a big price.

One more to look at is the Evan Williams trained Esprit Du Large. The 6yo was a decent hurdler but has already surpassed his mark over the smaller obstacles since hoing chasing. After a quite introduction at Carlisle he opened his account over fences with a nice victory at Exeter over 2m3f. Last time out he upped his game to win the Henry VIII Chase at Sandown, beating Nube Negra in the process. That's decent form so it would be foolkish to discount his chances here.

Punters Lounge Tip: Brewin'upastorm 6/1 at bet365 - Click Here To Bet
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