All eyes on Arkle hope Josses Hill

Josses Hill is odds-on to open his account over the larger obstacles in a cracking novice chase at Doncaster today (1.00) and looks a worthy favourite to do just that and put himself firmly in line for a crack at the Arkle Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.

The six-year-old joined trainer Nicky Henderson after finishing a highly promising second of 22 to Faugheen on his debut in a bumper at Punchestown and developed into one of the best novice hurdlers of last season.

After an impressive winning debut over the obstacles at Newbury, Josses Hill went down by just 1/2 a length to stable companion Royal Boy in the Tolworth Hurdle at Kempton before running a stormer to finish a six length second of 18 to Vautour in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.

The gelding went on to round of the campaign with an easy six length success in a Grade 2 contest at Aintree, and looked the type to do even better over fences.

Josses Hill is a strapping sort with tons of scope, and although turned over at odds-on on his debut over the larger obstacles at Ascot when beaten nine lengths into second behind Ptit Zig he ran far too keenly on his first start for 259 days and made too many mistakes as a result.

That was also a Grade 2 contest and the winner is a very useful sort who had race fitness on his side and has since gone on to land a hot contest at Cheltenham in good style.

In the cirumstances it was a decent run from Josses Hill, and this represents a significant drop in class and an excellent opportunity for him to get back on the winning trail.

Coral currently go 10/1 about Josses Hill for the Arkle on Tuesday, March 10th, and I would expect those odds to shorten if, as expected, he comes through this test in style.
The obvious danger to Josses Hill is the Philip Hobbs trained Cheltenian.

The nine-year-old won the Champion Bumper at the 2011 Cheltenham Festival and has clearly not been the easiest to train since.

However, the son of Astarabad showed he retained plenty of ability when finishing a fine fourth to Splash Of Ginge in last year’s Betfair Hurdle and has the size and scope to make up into just as good a chaser.