The Arkle Chase is named after the greatest horse ever and the betting for the race is often a hot topic from a very early stage.
As soon as the novice hurdle winners pass the line at the Cheltenham Festival they are often quoted for the next year’s novice chases and that was the case with Champagne Fever.
Willie Mullins’ ace won the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and obviously comes alive at Cheltenham as he also won the Champion Bumper 12 months earlier.
Nicky Henderson has won the Arkle odds five times
He is prominent in the betting for the Arkle which is run over two miles and the novice chasers must jump 12 fences in the race.
First run in 1969, the contest takes place on the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival and pays tribute to Tom Dreaper’s legend Arkle.
He achieved the highest rating ever awarded to a steeplechaser and won three Cheltenham Gold Cups in an illustrious career.
One horse that is on his way to emulating Arkle is Sprinter Sacre who won this race in 2012.
Nicky Henderson’s ace then went on to win the Queen Mother Champion Chase last season and is one of several horses to have completed that particular Cheltenham double.
Sprinter Sacre won the 2012 Arkle odds
Henderson also won the race last year with Simonsig – another previous winner at the Cheltenham Festival – and the Lambourn trainer has won the Arkle Chase on five occasions.
The Arkle betting is often dominated by horses who were very good hurdlers and it is easy to see why as 13 of the last 14 winners were rated over 141 over the smaller obstacles.
Champagne Fever falls into that bracket, as does Grandouet who represents Nicky Henderson. The French recruit was third in the 2011 Triumph Hurdle and is set to make up into a good chaser.
Dodging Bullets has made a very encouraging start to his career over fences and the Paul Nicholls-trained runner is high up in the Arkle betting, whilst the fellow Martin Broughton-owned Taquin Du Seuil has also made a very good impression to date.
Simonsig won the 2013 Arkle odds
The race has been a good hunting ground for punters with the last two favourites winning and there hasn’t been a double-priced figure winner since the success of Flagship Uberalles in 1999.
Irish horses haven’t fared particularly well – they have won just three of the last 16 renewals – but Irish trainers did land back-to-back renewals in 2009 and 2010 via Forpadydeplasterer and Sizing Europe.
Their hopes this year may lie with Willie Mullins’ progressive novice chaser Felix Yonger who looks to have a bright future ahead of him.