The Big Question: Can the trends favourite be beaten in Arkle?
Looking at the trends the Arkle could turn out to be a less competitive affair than many have predicted, read on to see why there is only two genuine competitors for this race.
All of the last 10 winners were aged between five and eight with seven year-old horses having a particularly good record, notching up six victories.
Of those winners, the majority were bred in Ireland. However, French-bred five and six year-olds also have had a strong hand in the results with three victories.
Other important trends to consider include; the fact that nine out of the last 10 winners had finished in the first two places on all chase runs and also that nine out of the last 10 winners were officially rated 140+ over hurdles.
Coupled with the fact that eight out of the last 10 winners had run in three to five chases and the field of possible winners narrows considerably.
One horse strongly touted by the race trends is the Mouse Morris-trained Trifolium. This Grade 1-winning seven year-old is a French-bred horse who has competed in four chasing contests and finished in the first two places in each race.
Having finished his career over hurdles officially rated on a mark of 147 (which included a third-place finish in the 2012 renewal of the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle) it is no surprise to see this horse close to the head of the betting at 9/2.
Other runners who conform with the majority of the trends include Champagne Fever (last year’s Supreme Novices’ winner), Felix Yonger (Grade 2 winner over fences), Dodging Bullets (multiple Grade 2 winner over fences) and Valdez (so far unbeaten over fences).
Whilst each of these horses has to be respected, the seven year-old Irish (definitely not one word, should be hyphen between) bred runner – Valdez looks the biggest danger to Trifolium.
Trained by Alan King, who has successfully trained the winner of this race twice in the last ten (10) years, this horse has shown a natural aptitude for fences and good battling qualities (particularly on his latest start at Doncaster).
Despite only achieving an official mark over hurdles of 135, odds of 8/1 look favourable and should he continue to improve he will give Trifolium plenty to think about.
Following the trends, Trifolium has strong claims and should put up a bold show. Taking into consideration the disparity in the prices, the training record of Alan King in this race and his so far unbeaten chasing record, Valdez looks a better option in terms of value on odds. Closely matched with Trifolium based on the trends, as an Irish-bred seven year-old Valdez shades the verdict.