Cheltenham Festival Preview - Irish Independent Arkle Trophy


Tagged under: 2.05 Arkle Challenge Trophy Steeple Chase 2m

Favourite for the 2012 Irish Independent Arkle Trophy is Peddlers Cross.There is little doubt that if connections of the 2011 Champion Hurdle runner-up Peddlers Cross had decided to try another season over the small obstacles, the son of Oscar would be widely accepted as the main pretender to Hurricane Fly's crown.The fact that Donald McCain's charge has already commenced a career over fences is an indication as to just how highly the six-year old is regarded as a potential top class chaser.

After two easy victories ( both at Bangor ), the horse heads the betting for the Arkle Trophy at a best price 4-1 with Ladbrokes, despite beating only six opponents in the process, and even though Peddlers Cross is the most likely winner at this stage the odds on offer make little appeal.

Next in the Arkle ante post betting come the first and third in last seasons Stan James Supreme Novices' Hurdle, Al Ferof and Sprinter Sacre, available at 7-1 and 6-1 respectively. Both are unbeaten over fences, but whereas the former has faced stiffer opposition, the latter was mightily impressive on his debut at Doncaster earlier this month.While both horses have limitless potential that is reflected in their current price rather than what they have yet achieved.

Leading hurdler Menorah is a 14-1 shot with both Coral and William Hill, with connections stating that the son of King's Theatre will return to novice chasing after failing to make an impact in Cheltenham's International Hurdle behind Champion Hurdle second favourite Grandouet.

Great things were expected of Champion Bumper winner Cue Card over hurdles, but Colin Tizzards's charge was a little disappointing and was found wanting on several occasions. making the 20-1 available with Stan James for the Arkle Trophy far from tempting.

Top class hurdler Solwhit is on offer at the same price, but due to a slight setback will not be seen until the new year. If Charles Byrnes's 7 year-old makes the Cheltenham Festival those odds could turn out to be more than generous.

Of the other possible runners the one that makes most appeal is the Alan King trained Walkon, available at 25-1 with Victor Chandler. The ex French grey has had his problems but could not have been more impressive when seeing off two very talented opponents in Zaynar and Notus De La Tour on his chasing debut at Exeter.

The latter had won his first two chases impressively and is highly rated by connections, while the former went on to win a very competitive Ascot affair with authority.

Although Alan King has not committed the horse to the Arkle, the temptation may be too hard to resist, as it proved with 2011 winner Captain Chris. Walkon possesses a very similar profile to last years' victor and if allowed to take his chance would have a huge chance of causing an upset.

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