Sprinter Sacre turned out to be all that Barry Geraghty said he would be and was a hugely impressive winner of the 2012 Arkle Challenge Trophy. Cue Card ran a fine race to be second and Menorah made it around safely despite suggestions that his jumping wouldnt stand up to the test. He is the full result of the 2012 Arkle Challenge Trophy:
Sprinter Sacre (FR)
B J Geraghty
N J Henderson
C L Tizzard
P J Hobbs
Al Ferof (FR)
P F Nicholls
W P Mullins
J P Ryan
Our pre race thoughts are here :
Arkle Favourite Sprinter Sacre has been a revelation this season. The six year old earned a 161 BHA rating and jumped to the top of the betting when beating Peddlers Cross (who had the up until then antepost favourite for the race) by 16 lengths in the Waywards Lads Chase at Kempton on 27 December 2011. See our odds table for the best price on the horse for the race .
The Arkle is the race Paddy Power have chosen for their money back if your horse gets beaten by the favourite offer this year. We have more on that deal here.
One of our first initiatives at Fat Jockey was to set up the Cheltenham Festival Tips Challenge. The jockeys taking part in this contest have ridden five of the last ten winners of the Arkle Chase. Barry Geraghty (2002,2009), Robert Thornton (2006,2007) and Richard Johnson (2011) know what it takes to win this. You can see their picks in the in the Arkle Chase on the free jockey tips page.
Barry Geraghty had his first ever Cheltenham winner in this race on the legendary Moscow Flyer in 2002. He won the race for a second time on Forpadytheplasterer in 2009 and will hope to join a select band of three time winners ( Tony McCoy, Richard Dunwoody, Jamie Osborne , Pat Taaffe, Glen Kelly ) on this year's favourite Sprinter Sacre. Barry has always been excited by this horse and was quoted as saying that he was as good as any 2 mile chaser he had ridden at this early stage of the horse's career. Sprinter Sacre broke a 23 year old track record at Newbury when stepping out of Novice company in the Game Spirit Chase in February. We believe he is potentially the most exciting novice in years.
The other top jockeys taking the Cheltenham Festival Tips Challenge also seem set to have good rides in the race. We had thought the 2010 Neptune Hurdle winner and last year's Champion Hurdle runner up Peddlers Cross will be Jason Maguire's mount, but that horse is now Jewson bound. Peddlers Cross has a great Cheltenham Festival record and trainer Donald McCain felt something was amiss at Kempton.
The 2010 winning Supreme Novice Hurdler, Menorah, is the ride of last years winning jockey, Richard Johnson. Fencing has been an issue for Menorah but with a clear round he has a chance.
Choc Thornton doesnt look to have an obvious ride in the race this year. You can check if any of our jockeys have put up these horses amongst their antepost tips for the Cheltenham Festival meeting here.
About the Arkle Challenge Trophy : The second race of the Cheltenham Horse Racing Festival is for Novice Chasers over 2 miles. A novice chaser is a horse that has not won a novice chase before the start of the current season. This race is the pinnacle of the National Hunt season for horses in this class and as such it is classified as a Grade 1 race. The race is run over twelve fences on the old course at Cheltenham and over a distance of 2 miles. The race is open to novice five year olds and upwards . Weights are 11st 7 lbs with mares allowed 7 lbs
Likely Runners : The declared runners are.
W P Mullins
John Patrick Ryan
We did warm that this could be an occasion when an antepost each bet will give three places whereas the day of the race market may only give two !
Arkle Chase Betting : Horses at the top of the market
Apart from the horses being ridden by the four top jockeys taking our Cheltenham Festival Tips Challenge here is the best of the rest. Al Ferof has form in the book to make him a winner in any normal year and represents the powerful Ruby Wash/Paul Nicholls/John Hales axis. He won last year's Supreme Novice Hurdle, outstaying the three directly behind at the finishing post and has already won a 2m novice chase around Cheltenham. He was last seen in action at Ascot chasing home the seasoned campaigners Somersby and Finians' Rainbow in the Grade 1 BetVictor Chase earning a BHA rating of 160 in the process. The last three winners had ratings between 152 and 157 before the race. Cue Card is likely to turn up for the race and although not as fashionable a horse as twelve months ago (when sent off favourite for the Supreme Novices Hurdle) if his jumping holds up he could be a player.
The Willie Mullins trained Blackstairmountain looks likely to be one of Rich and Suzzanne Ricci's Cheltenham squad and might offer a bit of each way value. He won the Racing Post Novice Chase at Leopardstown's Christmas meeting.
News from Cheltenham Preview Nights
There have been reports from the various preview nights posted up on our forum. Tom Segal has said that he considers Menorah the only threat to Sprinter Sacre and that he doesnt like Al Ferof at all. The video from Leopardstown Preview Night is here :
Age/Weight 7 & 8 Year olds have won the last five renewals. Historically 5 year olds did well in this race as they used to receive a healthy weight allowance (5lbs in 2007) but that has been scrapped since 2008. We would be surprised to see a 5 year old even lining up now. No five year old ran in 2010 or 2011 year and the four six year olds who ran in 2011 finished 6th, 7th , 8th and pulled up. Somersby did finish second as a six year old in 2010 and it does deem to take an exceptional six year old to win – the last to do so was Azertyuiop in 2003. Master Minded's two Champion Chase wins came when aged 5 and 6 so for a good one age isnt a obstacle. Still this is a stat Sprinter Sacre needs to overcome.
Jockey/Trainer Barry Geraghty and Robert Thornton have both won the race twice in the past decade. Tony McCoy Or Royal (1997), Champleve (1998), Well Chief (2004) has won the race most of riders currently active and would become winning most jockey in the race since 1946 if he were to win this year. Irish trained horses have won 2 of the last 3 but the English have the edge with 7 English and 3 Irish trained winners in the last decade. Alan King and the Pipe stable have had two wins in the past decade. Nicky Henderson last won the race with Tiutchev in 2000 but has a good record of having horses placed in the race including Finian's Rainbow who traded at 1.5 in running on betfair before finishing second in 2011.
Starting Price Every winner for the past decade has come from the first five in the betting but we are no sure how helpful that is given we expect this years race to have about 8 runners. Favourites don't have good record in the race finishing 21F723F84. Azertyuiop was the last to win. Moscow Flyer wasn't favourite in 2002 either !
Breeding Irish breds have won the last 4 and filled the first three places last year. There have been three French and five Irish bred winners in the past decade.
Trial Races The Wayward Lad Chase at Kempton won by Sprinter Sacre has not proved a useful pointer to finding the Arkle winner . Since that race became a two mile event in 2000 only one winner has made the frame.