Arkle Challenge Trophy 2022: Tight at the top of Arkle Market

Blue Lord and Riviere D'Etel ready to do battle again
Blue Lord and Riviere D'Etel ready to do battle again

The 2 mile chase showpiece for novices at the Cheltenham Festival  is the Arkle Challenge Trophy and now we have the entries through, it looks like one of the more intriguing renewals of the race in recent memory. Often a race dominated by a superstar at the top of the market, this year that role would’ve been filled by Ferny Hollow were he not to have met with a setback. Thirteen are entered at this stage and we've taken a look through some of the big names...

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In his absence favouritism looks likely to be held by Alan King’s Edwardstone, a useful if not top tier hurdler in his former career before embarking this season on his second attempt at novice chasing and looking a horse reborn. He is slick over his fences, has the pace needed for a test such as this one and above all looks to have sorted his questionable constitution which was a burden in his younger days. The Irish challenge in Ferny Hollow’s absence looks set to be headed by another Mullins inmate, Blue Lord. He would surely have finished in second place behind runaway leader Appreciate It in last season’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle were he not to have taken a final flight tumble, and he has looked a solid if not spectacular chaser so far this campaign.

His form ties in closely with 5 year old mare Riviere D’etel. Blue Lord beat her last time out at Leopardstown but she looked the winner until a last fence misstep and will be looking to reverse that form for Gordon Elliott and defy the poor record mares and indeed runners of her age have in this race.

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Cheltenham Tips

More Mullins bullets he looks set to fire at this Grade One prize include Haut En Couleurs, another five year old, and Saint Sam (second in last year’s Fred Winter). The former took a tumble in the aforementioned Irish Arkle at the Dublin Racing Festival when looking still full of running behind Blue Lord and Riviere D’etel, while Saint Sam also ran in the race but after leading and making numerous errors blew his chance. If both can sharpen up their jumping they have their chance.

Coeur Sublime is entered although his participation is in doubt as his connections are considering the Grand Annual, while an intriguing runner is long time Grand Annual favourite Brave Seasca for Venetia Williams. The trainer is rolling the big dice going for this Grade One and it will be fascinating to see how the runner copes. Expect For Pleasure to blitz off in front as his want but barring the performance of his life he should come back to the pack.

 

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