You may have just backed the winner in the Supreme Novices Hurdle and thought quietly to yourself that things cannot get much better. Well think again, The Arkle Trophy is race number two on the first day of the Cheltenham Festival and is an absolute treat for racing fans. After the unpredictable nature of betting on the Supreme Novices, the Arkle gives punters a chance to get their betting boots on again in a race that has a tendency to reward masters of the formbook.
The Arkle Trophy can almost be seen as a novices’ Champion Chase, where the best of the young breed of chasers are tested against each other over a stiff two miles. I love this race and on the first day it tends to be my favourite betting event, as the formbook more often than not holds up extremely well.
The Arkle is always a fascinating race to watch, especially if you have had a bet, because the horses always go at a rocketing pace and will not have faced such a gruelling challenge in their relatively short careers. The famous Cheltenham Hill can often be the difference between winning and losing in the Arkle and those horses who have an extra bit of grit or stamina will often power through the pack in the final couple of furlongs.
Another great thing about the Arkle is that it can be a fantastic talent pool for future legends within racing and many of the horses who run in the race go on to great things at the Cheltenham Festival. If we look at recent Gold Cup winners who have also competed in the Arkle Trophy, we need look no further than Kicking King in 2005 and also War of Attrition in 2006.
The Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy Chase is a grade 1 chase for novice horses.
The Arkle has been run at a start time of 14:05 in recent years and takes place on the first Tuesday of the Cheltenham Festival.
Age qualification for the race is 5 years old and upward.
The race is bang on 2 miles long.
In 2011 the prize fund for the race was £130,000.
There are a total of 12 fences for the novice chasers to tackle over the 2 miles.
- The average age of Arkle winners over the past 10 years has been a touch under 7 years old.
- Unlike the Supreme Novices Hurdle, trainers have won the race multiple times in recent years. Martin Pipe has saddled 4 winners and Nicky Henderson has triumphed 3 times since 1980 and these two trainers are the most successful in the modern era.
- Since 1992, there have only been two winning favourites of the Arkle, however the bookmakers have been prone to taking a hammering as there has been no winning SP bigger than 11/1 over the past 20 years.
- If we look at the betting for the past five years only, the average SP of the winner has been a fraction under 6/1.
- 14 out of the past 20 winners won on their previous start and 18 out of the past 20 finished either first or second.
- 4 of the past 5 renewals have been won by a 7 year old.
- In 2008 the 5lb weight allowance for 5 year olds was removed. Since 2006 (Voy Por Ustedes), no 5 year old has won a renewal, compared to 4 wins for 5 year olds between 1998 and 2008.
Betting On The Arkle Trophy
I always enjoy betting on the Arkle and I think a general rule of thumb is to stick to the top end of the market when trying to find the winner.
The field for the Arkle is generally on the small side, with 10 runners having competed in the 2011 Arkle and an average field over the past 5 years of around 13 runners. Punters often like to bet on a small field, rather than the races with larger entries such as the Supreme Novices Hurdle, so if this is part of your betting criteria, then the Arkle should be an attractive proposition.
Another interesting betting trend to draw upon for the Arkle is the fact that 5 year olds have performed poorly since the rescinding of the 5lb weight allowance from 2008. I would personally be looking more favourably at betting on 7 or 8 year old horses, drawing from the form of the Arkle over recent years.
For many punters, another pre-requisite for betting on the Arkle is backing a horse that has strong form (finished first or second), in its last race leading up-to the Festival. Ignore the form book at your peril in this race, it may be competitive, but the top of the market has dominated for the past 20 years!
For the 2012 Cheltenham Festival the leading offers are: Bet365 £200 free bets, BetVictor £25 free bet, and Stan James £150 free bets.
History Of The Race
Let’s take a look at the history of the Arkle Challenge Trophy. Before the year of 1969, when men were real men and kids had manners, the Arkle Challenge Trophy was actually known as the Cotswold Chase. Interesting stuff.
If you are interested to know why the race is called “The Arkle”, then look no further than the triple Gold Cup winning horse of the same name, who shot to prominence when winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup between 1964 to 1967. A staggering achievement of winning the race three years on the bounce, a feat only replicated by the superstar Best Mate between 2002 to 2004, meant that Arkle was rightly given his own legacy at the Cheltenham Festival.
The Arkle is currently the second race, on the first day of the Cheltenham Festival. Before the year of 1980, the race was actually contested on the second day; not a-lot of people know that!
From 2000, the Arkle was sponsored by The Irish Independent newspaper and hence assumed the somewhat overly elaborate full name of The Irish Independent Arkle Challenge Trophy, however in 2012 The Racing Post became the new sponsor. It is actually better known to us racing fans as simply “The Arkle”, it does make it a little easier to roll off the tongue! The race has only ever had three sponsors; from 1994 – 1999 Guinness took the reigns and the first ever sponsor of the race in 1991 was Waterford Castle, a luxury hotel and gold resort in the Emerald Isle.