|Sporting Life Arkle Novices’ Chase – Day One, Tuesday, 16 March|
The G1 Sporting Life Arkle Novices’ Chase takes place over two miles on day one of The Festival™ and has attracted 34 entries for its 2021 running. Sporting Life sponsor the contest for the first time this year.
Hot favourite for the Sporting Life Arkle Novices’ Chase is Shishkin (Nicky Henderson), winner of the G1 Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at The Festival™ last season. The Marie Donnelly-owned seven-year-old has looked imperious on his two outings over fences this season, most recently sauntering to a 13-length victory in the G2 Ladbrokes Wayward Lad Novices’ Chase at Kempton Park on 27 December. Shishkin’s trainer Nicky Henderson is the most successful handler in the history of the contest with six victories – Remittance Man (1991), Travado (1993), Tiutchev (2000), Sprinter Sacre (2012), Simonsig (2013) and Altior (2017). His two other entries are Allart, a G2 winner on his chasing debut at Ascot last month, and Fusil Raffles, who has scored twice at Cheltenham already this season in novices’ chases at The Showcase and The International.
Ireland has landed the Sporting Life Arkle Novices’ Chase on 21 occasions, including in five of the last six years. Leading Irish-trained contenders include Energumene (Willie Mullins), a lightly-raced seven-year-old but hugely impressive in winning both his chase starts. Mullins’ six entries, the most of any trainer, also includes G1 Leopardstown scorer Franco de Port, the unexposed Unexcepted as well as Klassical Dream, winner of the G1 Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at The Festival™ in 2019. Mullins is responsible for four of the last six winners of the contest – Un de Sceaux (2015), Douvan (2016), Footpad (2018) and Duc de Genievres (2019).
Other leading contenders include Allmankind (Dan Skelton), third in last season’s G1 JCB Triumph Hurdle and winner of both his starts over fences, including the G1 Planteur at Chapel Stud Henry VIII Novices’ Chase at Sandown Park in December.
Trainer Jamie Snowden has two entries in Ga Law and Thebannerkingrebel. A Listed winner over hurdles, Thebannerkingrebel began the current campaign by finishing sixth in the Welsh Champion Hurdle before making a winning start over fences at Plumpton. Ga Law landed his first three starts over fences, including the G2 Rising Stars Novices’ Chase at Warwick, before taking third in the G1 Planteur at Chapel Stud Henry VIII Novices’ Chase at Sandown Park in December.
Lambourn-based Snowden said: “Ga Law is in great order and the plan was to always give him a break after running at Sandown in the Henry VIII Novices’ Chase.
“I was delighted with his performance in that event, but he did shape as if he wanted to go back up in trip and so that looks the plan for the rest of the season.
“His next run will be in the Pendil Novices’ Chase at Kempton in February. That is a step back up in trip and we are looking forward to seeing him back in action.
“We have entered him in the Arkle, Marsh and the three-miler at the Cheltenham Festival. I think we will see how get on at Kempton first, but I am leaning towards either the Marsh or the three-miler.
“The Arkle would probably be the outsider of the three at the moment, just because I think he needs to go back up in trip and probably the Marsh is the slight favourite.
“A lot can still happen, so we will just take things week by week and see how he gets on at Kempton. The Manifesto Novices’ Chase at Aintree is also another race I think could really suit him too. These Cheltenham races close early so we have made the entries and we will see how he is in the coming weeks.
“Thebannerkingrebel is on for a £40,000 bonus at the Cheltenham Festival if he can win a race there having landed a contest at Plumpton earlier this season.
“He did take quite a bad fall back at the track last time so we’ll take our time with him and we might enter him in a number of races at Cheltenham over both hurdles and fences.”
SPORTING LIFE ARKLE NOVICES’ CHASE (Grade 1) Allart (IRE) 7 11 4 Mr R. A. Bartlett Nicky Henderson Allmankind (GB) 5 11 4 W. J. and T. C. O. Gredley Dan Skelton Beat The Judge (IRE) 6 11 4 Mr Ed Babington Gary Moore Blackbow (IRE) 8 11 4 Roaringwater Syndicate W. P. Mullins IRE Captain Guinness (IRE) 6 11 4 Declan Landy Henry de Bromhead IRE Chatham Street Lad (IRE) 9 11 4 Mr V. Healy Michael Winters IRE Darver Star (IRE) 9 11 4 SSP Number Twenty Two Syndicate Gavin Cromwell IRE Eldorado Allen (FR) 7 11 4 J P Romans & Terry Warner Colin Tizzard Elixir de Nutz (FR) 7 11 4 Mr Terry Warner Colin Tizzard Embittered (IRE) 7 11 4 Gigginstown House Stud Joseph Patrick O’Brien IRE Energumene (FR) 7 11 4 Anthony Bloom W. P. Mullins IRE Envoi Allen (FR) 7 11 4 Cheveley Park Stud Gordon Elliott IRE Epson du Houx (FR) 7 11 4 Gigginstown House Stud Henry de Bromhead IRE Est Illic (IRE) 7 11 4 Mr Andrew Gough Sarah-Jayne Davies Fast Buck (FR) 7 11 4 Sullivan Bloodstock Limited Paul Nicholls Felix Desjy (FR) 8 11 4 Gigginstown House Stud Gordon Elliott IRE Franco de Port (FR) 6 11 4 Bruton Street V W. P. Mullins IRE Funambule Sivola (FR) 6 11 4 My Racing Manager Friends Venetia Williams Fusil Raffles (FR) 6 11 4 Mr Simon Munir & Mr Isaac Souede Nicky Henderson Ga Law (FR) 5 11 4 The Footie Partnership Jamie Snowden Gumball (FR) 7 11 4 Mr Terry Warner Philip Hobbs Harambe (GB) 8 11 4 Niall Farrell & Friends Alan King Hitman (FR) 5 11 4 Mason, Hogarth, Ferguson & Done Paul Nicholls Janidil (FR) 7 11 4 Mr John P. McManus W. P. Mullins IRE Klassical Dream (FR) 7 11 4 Mrs J Coleman W. P. Mullins IRE Le Patriote (FR) 9 11 4 Canard Vert Racing Club Dr Richard Newland Malystic (GB) 7 11 4 Clova Syndicate and Mrs J A Niven Peter Niven Numitor (GB) 7 11 4 Wetumpka Racing Heather Main Shishkin (IRE) 7 11 4 Mrs J Donnelly Nicky Henderson Sky Pirate (GB) 8 11 4 Mr M. Tedham Jonjo O’Neill Sporting John (IRE) 6 11 4 Mr John P. McManus Philip Hobbs Thebannerkingrebel (IRE) 8 11 4 League Of Nations Jamie Snowden Unexcepted (FR) 7 11 4 Mr John P. McManus W. P. Mullins IRE Zambella (FR) 6 10 11 Mr Simon Munir & Mr Isaac Souede Nigel Twiston-Davies
34 entries 13 Irish-trained