Arkle Trophy trends hint at trouble for hat-trick seeking Henderson
Nicky Henderson has been the man to follow in recent years when it comes to finding the Arkle winner, as the Seven Barrows handler has saddled Sprinter Sacre and Simonsig to win the last two renewals.
Henderson shares the record for most wins in the race with Tom Dreaper, with their total of five wins being just one more than Martin Pipe, the father of current trainer David Pipe.
However it is interesting that no trainer has won the race in three consecutive years since the 1940’s, when Bobby Norris landed the 1946, 1948 and 1949 renewals (there was no race in 1947).
Since then there have been five trainers who have won two Arkles in a row.
As Henderson looks to break this sequence, most eyes will be on Grandouet who was in the process of making a good chasing debut at Sandown before unseating Barry Geraghty.
However the yard also have a potentially interesting rival in the form of Oscar Whisky who was pulled up in last season’s World Hurdle but reverting to shorter trips could see him make up into a serious contender.
There are sure to be other contenders at Seven Barrows, but it’s worth noting that 11 of the last 14 winners had won a novice chase by the middle of December.
For all the top-class horses that he trains, Willie Mullins has never won this race but will be hoping that Champagne Fever, the Supreme Novices’ winner can turn his fortunes.
However winners of the Supreme have a very poor record in the Arkle and the better Festival race from a trends point of view is the Neptune Novices’ Hurdle; Simonsig won the latter in 2012.
Punters should make note that the figures are slightly skewed however, as hurdle winners at the Festival often stay over hurdles for at least one more season.
Five-year-olds used to have a very good record, with the age group winning four renewals between 1998 and 2006.
But they no longer get as generous a weight allowance from their older rivals and since then the eight five-year-olds have not fared as well, although Fair Along (2007) and Kruguyrova (2008) did both finish second.
The most successful age group in recent time have been seven-year-olds, who have won six of the last nine renewals.
The trials to take note of used to be the Henry VIII Novices’ Chase at Sandown and the Racing Post Novices’ Chase at Leopardstown.
However Contraband (2004/5) was the last Arkle winner to win at Sandown, and it is the Leaopardstown contest which has been more relevant, with Sizing Europe (2009/10) following in the footsteps of Moscow Flyer who did the double in 2001/2.