Intriguing shortlist for the Arkle Trophy

Barry Lalor and Declan McDonogh after Maarek's win in the Prix de l'AbbayeLongchamp 6.10.13 Pic: Edward Whitaker
WITH the top names of the National Hunt world due to return to the racecours, it’s time to start seriously thinking of Cheltenham festival ante-post bets.

WITH the top names of the National Hunt world due to return to the racecours, it’s time to start seriously thinking of Cheltenham festival ante-post bets.

And one of the most intriguing races every year is the Racing Post Arkle Trophy, the jumping highlight for the novices on day one of the festival. And this year’s renewal looks potentially top class.

Only a handful of bookmakers have prices on the 2m feature but Paddy Power are one of those, like is the case with most of next year’s Cheltenham races, and they make no bones about who they think the horse to beat is. Champagne Fever. And they go 8/1 about Willie Mullins’ talented grey. He’s exciting but is he reliable? Powers go 14/1 bar Champagne Fever right now and the two horses at that price are Un Atout and Oscar Whisky. Un Atout has always looked a chaser in the making. He may lack the speed for the 2m dash in the Arkle though and may be a Jewson horse come next March. Oscar Whisky looks set to go chasing after unsuccessful cracks at the World Hurdle. Puffin Billy is a horse who did well over hurdles and looks an out and out chaser. At 16/1, he’s one for the shortlist. In fact, the horses priced at 16/1 with Paddy Power are probably the most exciting of the lot. Chatterbox is definitely one for the shortlist for the Bobs Worth connections. He’s a horse who very much excites me. And then there’s Rebel Fitz (16/1), who seems to tick all the boxes required to win an Arkle. And come next March, we could very likely be talking about the same horse as favourite for this season’s Arkle Trophy.

Big Race Lookout Banker: Rebel Fitz. Danger: Chatterbox.