Sprinter Sacre Heads 10 for Arkle Chase
There have been few more impressive winners this season than Sprinter Sacre who waltzed to a facile six-length success against seasoned rivals in the rescheduled Grade Two Game Spirit Chase at Newbury on February 17. The Nicky Henderson-trained six-year-old is one 10 contenders remaining in the £130,000 Grade One Racing Post Arkle Chase run over two miles on The Festival’s opening day, Champion Day, Tuesday, March 13.
With a weight-adjusted Timeform rating of 174p, he is currently rated 1lb behind last year’s William Hill Supreme Novices’ Hurdle victor Al Ferof with Cue Card on 168.
Cue Card has Cheltenham Festival form in the book which is always a huge pointer to further success at the greatest jumps meeting on the calendar. In 2010, at the tender age of 4, Colin Tizzard's charge slammed his older rivals by upwards of 8-lengths to win the Champion Bumper with Al Ferof second and the Irish challengers nowhere. The following winter, a pair of effortless novice hurdle wins (one at Cheltenham) saw him move to unbeaten in four runs. Menorah halted that dominance when beating Cue Card into second, again at Cheltenham but that did not prevent Cue Card going off as 7/4 favourite for the Supreme Novices' in March. Although he ran to his previous level on the ratings, it was disappointing that he could manage no better than 4th to Al Ferof and although some excuses were put forward in the press, he looked beaten on merit. A 13-length beating at Aintree didn't recover his lofty reputation either but Colin Tizzard was upbeat, citing that the switch to novice chasing would see the horse in a much better light. It hasn’t all gone to plan this season but his latest win was impressive and in that sort of form, he would take some beating.
Menorah won 3 from 4 over hurdles round Cheltenham and was a top-class novice, winning the 2010 Supreme before finishing fifth in the 2011 Champion Hurdle behind Hurricane Fly. That proven liking for Cheltenham and especially the festival form places Menorah high on the list of horses to be interested in come March 2012. There is a worry though in that he has not really been fluent on any of his chasing starts thus far, despite meeting only 2-rivals on no less than three occasions. Now a 7-y-o as well and a little more experienced than his market rivals so there are warning signs posted in the ground near to Menorah and it will be a good effort if he can jump round fluently enough to hold his chance in this.
The grey Al Ferof was well-backed to beat his more experienced rivals in the Victor Chandler and having watched him finish third to Somersby, I was initially less than impressed. On reflection though, he was still a novice taking on top class experienced chasers and given the RPR awarded was a career best, my initial judgment was perhaps harsh. Has the all important festival form on his record; a second in the Bumper and a win in the Supreme Novices’ and at 7/1, he may yet prove good value.
Paul Nicholls' Cristal Bonus has also been left in.
Peddlers Cross has, as expected, been taken out, with the Jewson Novices' Chase now his aim.
Willie Mullins has left in Blackstairmountain, although he has removed Sir Des Champs from contention.
The other Irish challengers are Tony Martin's Nearest The Pin and the John Ryan-trained Foildubh.
Nigel Twiston-Davies' Astracad and Kid Cassidy, trained by Nicky Henderson, complete the list of 10 possibles.
THE RACING POST ARKLE CHALLENGE TROPHY CHASE
Class 1, Grade One, Total Prize Fund £130,000, 2.05pm, Cheltenham, Tuesday, March 13, 2012, two miles. For novice 5-y-o & upwards, two miles. Weights: 11st 7lb. Allowances: mares 7lb. Entries closed January 24, entries revealed January 26 (27 entries), scratchings deadline February 21 (15 remained), six-day confirmation stage March 7 (10 remain), final declaration stage 10.00am, March 12. Form figures supplied by Weatherbys and are correct up to and including the racing of Monday, February 20, 2012. May not include some overseas form.
10 entries remain after March 07 six-day declarations
THE RACING POST ARKLE CHASE FACTS AND FIGURES
1. The Racing Post Arkle Chase 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 Chatham (10/1), trained by Fred Rimell and ridden by Terry Biddlecombe. The 2012 running has total prize money of £130,000. It was known as the Cotswold Chase before 1969.
2. The Racing Post, which backs the Arkle Chase for the first time in 2012, is only the race’s fourth sponsor. The Irish Independent was the sponsor from 2000 to 2011, Guinness sponsored from 1994 until 1999 and Waterford Cystal supported the race between 1991 and 1993.
3. The Racing Post Arkle Chase has always been a fiercely contested event, and the following winners have gone on to other Championship victories at The Festival:
2010 Sizing Europe (sportingbet.com Queen Mother Champion Chase 2011)
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. The current safety limit is 20.
5. The Racing Post 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 (My Way De Solzen in 2007 and Voy Por Ustedes in 2006) both 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. A P McCoy equalled Osborne’s three wins in 2004 when scoring on Well Chief, having also been aboard Or Royal (1997) and Champleve (1998).
6. Irish trainers have won the Racing Post Arkle Chase 11 times, including five of the last 15 runnings with Klairon Davis (1995), Ventana Canyon (1996), Moscow Flyer (2002), Forpadydeplasterer (2009) and Sizing Europe (2010).
7. The longest-priced winner was Gala’s Image, successful at 25/1 in 1987, while Pendil (1972) and Chinrullah (1979) were 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 Racing Post 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 Racing Post Arkle Chase was always run on the Wednesday of the The Festival. It now takes place on the opening day, Tuesday.
THE RACING POST ARKLE CHALLENGE TROPHY CHASE
2011-WINNER-CAPTAIN CHRIS 7-11-07 Owner-Diana Whateley; Trainer-Philip Hobbs; Jockey-Richard Johnson; SP-6/1 2ND-Finian’s Rainbow 8-11-07 Owner-Michael Buckley; Trainer-Nicky Henderson; Jockey-Barry Geraghty; SP-7/2 3RD-Realt Dubh 7-11-07 Owner-Des Sharkey; Trainer-Noel Meade IRE; Jockey-Paul Carberry; SP-17/2
2010-WINNER-SIZING EUROPE 6-11-07 Owner-Ann & Alan Potts Partnership; Trainer-Henry de Bromhead IRE; Jockey-Andrew Lynch; SP-6/1 2ND-Somersby 6-11-07 Owner-Camilla Radford; Trainer-Henrietta Knight; Jockey-Robert Thornton; SP-4/1 3RD-Osana 8-11-07 Owner-Thomas Barr; Trainer-Edward O’Grady IRE; Jockey-Andrew McNamara; SP-14/1 12 ran, Time-3m 52.60s Dist-•, 1 • 5/2 Fav Captain Cee Bee (8th)
2009-WINNER-FORPADYDEPLASTERER 7-11-07 Owner-Goat Racing Syndicate; Trainer-Tom Cooper IRE; Jockey-Barry Geraghty; SP-8/1
2008-WINNER-TIDAL BAY 7-11-07 Owner-Andrea & Graham Wylie; Trainer-Howard Johnson; Jockey-Denis O’Regan; SP-6/1
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 RACING POST ARKLE CHASE ROLL OF HONOUR
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