Dodging Bullets has the right ammo for Arkle
The Paul Nicholls’ trained Dodging Bullets is set to have his final run before the Arkle in the Grade 2 Game Spirit Chase at Newbury on Saturday as he bids to follow in the footsteps of the brilliant Sprinter Sacre who completed the double in 2012.
The gelding has not put a foot wrong in winning his three starts over fences, and was particularly impressive last time out at Kempton when slamming Grandouet by 10 lengths in a Grade 2 contest.
He also has the perfect profile for the Arkle, and it can be argued that he is entitled to be clear favourite for his Festival target, for which he can currently be backed at 6/1 with Coral.
The six-year-old was rated 154 over hurdles and nine of the last ten winners of the Arkle have been rated above 142 in that sphere.
The fact that he beats that criteria by 12lb marks him out as a really classy sort with more than enough ability to land the spoils – especially when compared to the hurdle ratings of recent winners.
In the last four runnings of the race only Sizing Europe in 2010 and last year’s winner Simonsig have been rated higher (160).
The 2011 winner Captain Chris was rated 146 and Sprinter Sacre was rated 149 over the smaller obstacles when romping to success in 2012.
That suggests that as far as ability goes he will not be found wanting, and he also meets every other criteria for the contest as far as winners in the last decade are concerned in that:
*10/10 had no more than five races over fences
*9/10 finished in first two in all completed starts over fences
*9/10 were aged between five and seven
*9/10 had final prep race within 52 days of the Festival
*9/10 finished in first two last time out
*8/10 had run at the Festival before
It really is hard to pick a hole in his Cheltenham credentials, and he does win on Saturday then it would be no surprise to see him leapfrog Champagne Fever and become the new favourite for the Arkle