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Valdez has sights firmly set on Arkle

Valdez now looks trainer Alan King’s number one hope for the Arkle Chase after King revealed that Balder Success was “very unlikely” to take his chance.

The latter got back to winning ways when landing the Grade 2 Kingmaker Novices’ Chase at Warwick, but his owners are keen on bypassing the Festival and running him at Aintree and then Punchestown.

That leaves the way clear for Valdez, who is a 10/1 chance with Coral, to try and provide King with his third winner in the race.

The Barbury Castle handler landed back-to back victories in the 2m contest in 2006/07 with Voy Por Ustedes and My Way de Solzen, and Valdez looks to hold solid claims in a wide open renewal.

The seven-year-old is unbeaten in three runs over fences, and showed a terrific attitude in the latest of those when beating Arnaud by 3 1/4 lengths in the Grade 2 Lightning Novices’ Chase at Doncaster.

He is a sound jumper who digs deep when asked, and the stiff uphill finish at Prestbury Park looks sure to play to his strengths.

However, he does not have the ideal profile for the race according to the stats.

13 of the last 14 winners have all been rated 142 or higher over hurdles, and he falls short of that by 10lb.

Two other key criteria that he fails to meet are that nine of the last 10 winners had won or been placed at a Festival, and five of the last 10 winners had finished in the first four in a novice hurdle at the four-day meeting the previous year.

But it is all not negative, as six of the last 10 winners of the Arkle have been aged seven and 25 of the last 26 winners had won last time out.