Dodging Bullets can underline Arkle Trophy claims
The market for the Arkle Trophy remains volatile but Dodging Bullets hasn’t put a foot wrong this season. A convincing display in Saturday’s Game Spirit Chase could even see him promoted to favourite for the big race.
Paul Nicholls has always held the son of Dubawi in high regard and anything he achieved over hurdles was a bonus. He was smart enough to finish fourth in the Triumph Hurdle in 2012 and finished third in the Christmas Hurdle last year.
His trainer cannot explain why he performed so poorly at Cheltenham and Aintree subsequently but he has been a revelation since being put over the larger obstacles. Despite winning at Cheltenham and Kempton, he was still only second favourite for the Wayward Lad Novices’ Chase in December.
Nicholls fancied him strongly and he put up his most impressive display to date, slamming Grandouet by ten lengths when conceding 6lbs. He handled the very soft ground that day and should not be inconvenienced with the going heavy at Newbury.
Module began his season with a fine second to Somersby at Exeter but was slightly disappointing when only fourth to Riverside Theatre at Huntingdon. The lightly-raced seven-year-old was a close fourth in the Jewson Novices’ Chase at the festival last year and two and a half miles could be his best trip.
Raya Star was beaten five lengths by Dodging Bullets at Cheltenham in November on good ground and there seems no reason why he should reverse the placings. He was a smart hurdler, winning the Scottish Champion Hurdle, but the heavy ground is not ideal for him.
Desert Cry was just denied a hat-trick last weekend by Grey Gold in similar ground at Sandown. That was a fine effort under 11st 11lb but it may be asking a lot to turn out again so quickly.
Lord Of House scrambled home at Ludlow recently and needs to step up considerably on that form to be involved here. Majala was second to Sire De Grugy at Chepstow in October but has failed to complete in two subsequent outings.