Arkle – Overturn’s unhindered prep could give him edge on Simonsig
In the last 20 runnings of the Arkle just two runners aged eight or older have taken this prize – bad news for nine-year-old Overturn and eight-year-old Arvika Ligeonniere, good news for seven year-old favourite Simonsig.
Arvika Ligeonniere also has his trainer’s unhappy record in this race to contend with – Willie Mullins has sent out seven runners across the last 10 renewals, with all seven failing to take even a minor medal.
Both older winners in the past two decades were Irish-bred, ex-Grade-1-winning hurdlers over 2m – attributes of form and breeding that are boasted by both Overturn and Oscars Well of this year’s eight-and-over trio.
Official ratings over hurdles are often used as punting pointer for novice chases and in this respect Overturn is much more of threat than the betting suggests. Rated 164 over timber, he’s 4lbs superior to Simonsig in that sphere according to the handicapper.
Evidence on whether hurdles ratings are a solid predictor of Arkle glory is unclear with three of the last five Arkles won by the highest rated, but the last two going the way of those with inferior marks to at least one of their foes over timber.
Simonsig is a worthy favourite, beaten just once in eight races under rules and hammering his foes by an aggregate of 86 lengths in two chase runs to-date.
Nonetheless those races came within six days of each other in December, with an intended prep-run in February ruled out due to illness concerns.
Overturn on the contrary has enjoyed an ideal three-race prep, smashing subsequent winner Tetlami by 29 lengths last time out.
His renowned front-running style is tailor made to exploit any race-fitness issues in the favourite, who enjoyed a three-race prep before last year’s festival.
Unlike the favourite, whose last race was his first career race over 2m, Overturn’s hurdling career has proven he has the speed to win over the minimum trip at the highest level and he could well serve it up to Nicky Henderson’s grey on festival Tuesday.