Tidal Bay Storms to Arkle Victory
1st (13) Tidal Bay 6-1
Trainer Howard Johnson and owner Graham Wylie were back in the number one spot at the Festival following Tidal Bay’s victory in the Irish Independent Arkle Trophy.
The seven-year-old skipped clear of his rivals on the home turn, giving Johnson every indication that a longer trip would suit Tidal Bay - it also heralded a turning point in his yard’s fortunes, following a lean spell when a number of runners performed poorly.
Johnson said: “They have been a little bit out of form, but some of the horses just weren’t good enough. When a horse isn’t good enough it can’t win - I’ve been getting a bit of stick in the media, but this horse has silenced the critics.
“It’s also good for Drever [Inglis Drever, his candidate for the Ladbrokes World Hurdle on Thursday]. He seems healthy enough and did his last piece of work this morning. It was just a little canter, but he seems great and will travel down tomorrow. When you’ve got two good horses you’ve got a chance.”
Asked for the thoughts of jockey Denis O’Regan - his first Cheltenham Festival winner - following the victory, Johnson said: “He said it was great and the horse gave him a lovely feel. He said he could have gone round again.”
Tidal Bay was declared for tomorrow’s Royal & SunAlliance Chase, but Johnson said he was very doubtful to line up. He added: “He’s won a race and tomorrow was just a safety net in case he fell at the first..
“I’ve had some good horses. Direct Route fell in this race with Tony Dobbin, but he was an out-and-out two-miler, and this horse will stay three miles. I’ll keep him going for Aintree, but if I’m not happy he’ll go out in a field.”
For Wylie it was a fifth Festival winner. He said: “People have been saying the horse can’t jump, the trip was wrong, the stable is under a cloud, but he’s silenced them today. I can’t believe we’ve had five Festival winners - it’s such a thrill.
“We bought this horse at Doncaster, after watching him come second in the Aintree bumper. He was trained near us at Stocksfield by Alistair Charlton, who will be as pleased as we are. It’s a great local story.”
Tidal Bay was quoted at 10/1 for next year’s Queen Mother Champion Chase by Cashmans following his win.
NOLAND NEEDS MORE
Although Noland could not justify his position as 7/4 favourite of The Irish Independent Arkle Challenge Trophy,owner John Hales was "delighted" with the performance of his fledgling chaser, who took a fast-finishing third up the Cheltenham hill.
Hales was anxious about his horse’s jumping and refused to look as he took the second-last, where his talented chaser Granit d’Estruval had fallen and died at the Paddy Power Chase at Cheltenham in November.
Hales need not have worried for Noland’s jumping was faultless. If he lacked in any department, it was having the speed to go with the leader and connections confirmed that the horse’s future will be over longer. "This is the last time you’ll see him over two miles, we’ll definitely step him up know," said Hales. Trainer Paul Nicholls, too, was convinced the horse’s future lay over three miles.
The ultra-consistent Kruguyrova took second place which heartened trainer
"We’re very pleased with that. No complaints about the ground a all," he said.
For AP McCoy, Kruguyrova’s rider, it was his second runner-up spot in succession. "She’s very tough, I thought that was the sort of race she would run and be there or thereabouts. She’s a good, sound jumper who stays well and always runs to a very good consistent level," said McCoy.
THE IRISH INDEPENDENT ARKLE CHALLENGE TROPHY
Form Horse Age Owner Trainer
14 entries remain after final confirmation stage
Huge Festival Novice Chase Entries
Bumper entries are revealed today for The Festival’s two Grade One novice chases – The Irish Independent Arkle Challenge Trophy Chase (Tuesday, March 11) and Royal & SunAlliance Chase (Wednesday, March 12) – which continue to prove unrivalled steps to future championship honours.
There are a record 64 entries for The Irish Independent Arkle Chase including the likes of Tidal Bay, a facile novice chase winner at Cheltenham in December, 2006 Anglo Irish Bank Supreme Novices’ Hurdle hero Noland , who made a flawless debut over fences at Folkestone on Monday, and the Charlie Mann-trained Moon Over Miami.
David Pipe, whose father Martin trained four of the last 10 winners in this event, has six representatives including Acambo, who made a promising chasing debut at Ascot in November.
There are 20 Irish-trained entries - another record - with Willie Mullins accounting for five of those possible contenders including recent runaway Leopardstown winner Glencove Marina. Meanwhile trainer Paul Nolan today confirmed French Accordion, a four-time winner over fences this season, on target for the Grade One event.
“The plan is to run French Accordion in The Irish Independent Arkle Challenge Trophy Chase at The Festival. He’s a good ground specialist and that would be the deciding factor,” said Nolan.
“He’s a couple of stone worse on yielding or soft ground, so we’re hoping that we get decent ground at Cheltenham in March. He travels so much better and jumps so much sweeter on better ground. The handicapper has given French Accordion a mark of 146, which would be among the top novices in Ireland.
“Although it looked like a weak Fortria Chase at Navan in November, he could do no more than win, and he was impressive and jumped very well. He came out of that race without a blemish on him or a sore joint, which is unusual for a big heavy horse. He just loves to hear his hooves rattle.
“He’s probably got more improvement in him and we have given him a break since his run in the Drinmore Novice Chase at Fairyhouse in December, when it was probably a mistake to run him in such testing conditions.
“He’s very hard to get fit, so he’ll definitely need a run before going to Cheltenham. He’s rated below 120 over hurdles, so a nice handicap will probably be the way forward.”
There are three French-trained entries – Okaido, trained by Arnaud Chaille-Chaille, Pepsyrock from Guillaume Macaire’s stable and Takeroc, based in Pau with Loic Manceau.
THE IRISH INDEPENDENT ARKLE CHALLENGE TROPHY CHASE - Analysis
This year’s £170,000 The Irish Independent Arkle Challenge Trophy Chase has attracted a record entry of 64, an increase of 21 on last season.
Howard Johnson has entered his exciting chasing prospect Tidal Bay,
who chased home Massini’s Maguire in last season’s Ballymore
Properties Novices’ Hurdle.
Champion trainer Paul Nicholls, successful in this race with Flagship Uberalles in 1999 and Azertyuiop in 2003, has entered 2006 Grade One Anglo Irish Bank Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winner Noland, who looked very promising when scoring on his only subsequent appearance in a beginners’ chase at Folkestone in January.
Nicholls has also engaged French import Big Buck’s, Grade Two chase scorer Marodima, last year’s Ballymore Properties Novices’ Hurdle fourth Silverburn and Predateur, who finished second behind Moon Over Miami in the Grade Two Independent Newspaper Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham in December, before chasing home Lead On in the Grade Two Utopia Group “Dipper” Novices’ Chase at the same course on New Year’s Day.
Nigel Twiston-Davies has entered his talented novice Mahogany Blaze,
who looked a horse with a bright future when scoring in the Grade Two
Wayward Lad Novices’ Chase at Kempton on December 27, while Nick
Gifford could run Wee Robbie, who defeated Mahogany Blaze in the Grade
Two Lightning Novices’ Chase at Ascot in January.
Edward O’Grady, Cheltenham’s winning-most current Irish trainer with 18 Festival triumphs, has entered 2006 Coral Cup scorer Sky’s The Limit, who has gone on to Grade One success over fences in both the Drinmore and Durkan New Homes Novice Chases. O’Grady could also be represented by Clopf, who took the Grade One Champion Novice Hurdle at Punchestown last year.
Other notable Irish entries include the Paul Nolan-trained French Accordion, winner of the Grade Two Fortria Chase at Navan in November, and Niall Madden’s Wins Now, who finished fifth in last year’s Grade One Anglo Irish Bank Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.
There are three entries from France – the Loic Manceau-trained Takeroc, a five-length winner at Pau on January 8, Pepsyrock, who scored for trainer Guillaume Macaire at the same track on December 23 and Okaido, who had won his two previous starts before falling in the Grade Two Utopia Group “Dipper” Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day.
THE IRISH INDEPENDENT ARKLE CHASE FACTS AND FIGURES
1. The Arkle Challenge Trophy was inaugurated in 1969, after Arkle’s three wins in the Cheltenham Gold Cup (1964-66). In its first year, the race was worth £1,365, and was won by Chatam (10/1), trained by Fred Rimell and ridden by Terry Biddlecombe. The 2008 running has total prize money of £170,000. It was known as the Cotswold Chase before 1969.
2. The Irish Independent, which backed the Arkle Chase for the first
time in 2000, is only the race’s third sponsor. Guinness sponsored
from 1994 until 1999, having taken over from Waterford Castle, who had
supported since the first sponsored running in 1991.
3. The Irish Independent Arkle Chase has always been a fiercely contested
event, and the following have gone on to other Championship victories
at The Festival:
4. The lowest number of runners has been eight (1979,1984 & 1993)
and the highest 19 (1987 & 2005) as the Arkle Chase - there were
25 runners in the Cotswold Chase in 1960.
5. The Irish Independent Arkle Chase has seen several trainers and jockeys
run up strings of wins. Martin Pipe notched up successive wins with Or
Royal in 1997 and Champleve in 1998 before Well Chief in 2004 and Contraband
a year later gave him another brace of victories. Peter Easterby trained
three winners - Alverton 1978, Clayside 1981 and Ryeman 1983. Among current
trainers, Nicky Henderson leads the way with three successes (Remittance
Man 1991, Travado 1993 and Tiutchev 2000), while both Paul Nicholls (Flagship
Uberalles in 1999 and Azertyuiop in 2003) and Alan King, successful in
the past two renewals with My Way De Solzen in 2007 and Voy Por Ustedes
in 2006, boast a pair of victories. Among jockeys, Jamie Osborne won
three times, via a hat-trick between 1992 and 1994 on Young Pokey, Travado,
and Nakir for three different trainers, Oliver Sherwood, Nicky Henderson
and Simon Christian. Tony McCoy equalled Osborne’s three wins in
2004 when scoring on Well Chief, having also been aboard Or Royal (1997)
and Champleve (1998). Robert Thornton has ridden the last two winners,
Voy Por Ustedes in 2006 and My Way De Solzen in 2007.
6. Irish trainers have won The Irish Independent Arkle Chase nine times,
including three of the last 12 runnings with Klairon Davis (1995), Ventana
Canyon (1996) and Moscow Flyer (2002).
7. The longest-priced winner of The Irish Independent Arkle Chase is
Gala’s Image, successful at 25/1 in 1987, while Pendil (1972) and
Chinrullah (1979) are the shortest-priced scorers at 10/11. Six other
favourites have won - Canasta Lad (1974), Clayside (1981), Bobsline (1984),
Remittance Man (1991), Klairon Davis (1995) and Azertyuiop (2003).
8. The fastest time for the two miles of The Irish Independent Arkle
Chase was 3m 46.5s by Tiutchev in 2000, beating the previous best of
3m 52.5s set by Or Royal in 1997.
9. Until 1980, The Irish Independent Arkle Chase was always run on the Wednesday of the National Hunt Festival. It now takes place on the opening day, Tuesday.
THE IRISH INDEPENDENT ARKLE CHALLENGE TROPHY CHASE
WAY DE SOLZEN 7-11-07 Owner-Ben
Winfield, A Longman, J Wright & C Fenton; Trainer-Alan King; Jockey-Robert
POR USTEDES 5-11-02 Owner-Sir Robert Ogden; Trainer-Alan
King; Jockey-Robert Thornton; SP-15/2
2005-WINNER-CONTRABAND 7-11-07 Owner-David Johnson; Trainer-Martin Pipe;
Jockey-Timmy Murphy; SP-7/1
3RD-River City 8-11-07 Owner-Mrs S Rowley-Williams & Partners; Trainer-Noel Chance; Jockey-Tom Doyle; SP- 10/1 19 ran, Time-3m 53.10s Dist-1, 4 11/4 Fav War Of Attrition (7th)
2004-WINNER-WELL CHIEF 5-11-03 Owner-David Johnson; Trainer-Martin Pipe;
Jockey-Tony McCoy; SP-9/1
2003-WINNER-AZERTYUIOP 6-11-08 Owner-John & Lisa
Hales; Trainer-Paul Nicholls; Jockey-Ruby Walsh; SP-5/4 Fav
2002-WINNER-MOSCOW FLYER 8-11-08 Owner-Brian Kearney; Trainer-Jessica
Harrington IRE; Jockey-Barry Geraghty; SP-11/2
2001 - Cancelled
2000-WINNER-TIUTCHEV 7-11-08 Owner-The Liars Poker Partnership; Trainer-Nicky
Henderson; Jockey-Mick FitzGerald; SP-8/1
1999-WINNER-FLAGSHIP UBERALLES 5-11-00 Owner-Elizabeth
Gutner & Michael
Krysztofiak Racing; Trainer-Paul Nicholls; Jockey-Joe Tizzard; SP-11/1
1998-WINNER-CHAMPLEVE 5-11-00 Owner-David Johnson; Trainer-Martin Pipe;
Jockey-Tony McCoy; SP-13/2
1997-WINNER-OR ROYAL 6-11-08 Owner-David Johnson; Trainer-Martin Pipe;
Jockey-Tony McCoy; SP-11/2
1996-WINNER-VENTANA CANYON 7-11-08 Owner-Philip
Myerscough; Trainer-Edward O’Grady IRE; Jockey-Richard Dunwoody;
THE IRISH INDEPENDENT ARKLE CHASE ROLL OF HONOUR
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