Arkle Challenge Trophy

2015 Arkle Challenge Trophy Result

No Sign Of Jumping Errors As Un De Sceaux Runs Away With Arkle

Leading Irish trainer Willie Mullins gained his first success in the Racing Post Arkle Chase thanks to an impressive display by Un De Sceaux at the 2015 Cheltenham Festival.

The 4/6 favourite led the field for most of the race and there was plenty of daylight between Un De Sceaux and the chasing pack down the back straight, but approaching the final fence, 33/1 outsider God's Own attempted to apply some pressure. The 7-year-old son of Denham Red never really looked troubled though and Ruby Walsh got the perfect response when asking his ride to pick up approaching the last fence as Un De Sceaux quickened away up the hill to win by an impressive six lengths.

A fall at Thurles and a couple of errors at Leopardstown had caused a few punters to be skeptical about backing the gelding at such short odds, but those who lumped on the favourite will have been delighted by what was a near perfect round on the day.

God's Own stayed on well, but could not match the winner for pace as 12/1 shot Josses Hill battled well to take third ahead of the Paul Nicholls-trained Vibrato Valtat who was fancied as the horse to give Un De Sceaux the most to worry about at odds of 7/1, but saw his challenge rapidly fade two jumps from home.

The rest of the field were strung out with Court Minstrel, Sgt Reckless, Smashing, Clarcam and Three Kingdoms well beaten, while Sail By The Sea and Dunraven Storm were both pulled up as Un De Sceaux romped home.

A Brief Intro To The Arkle Challenge Trophy

The Arkle Challenge Trophy is the second race of the opening day of the four-day Cheltenham Festival meeting, which takes place every March. This Grade 1 National Hunt steeplechase race is open to novice chasers - aged five years and older - and is the leading minimum-distance chase for novices in the National Hunt calendar.

It is run on the Old Course at Cheltenham Racecourse and requires horses to race over a distance of about two miles and clear 12 fences as they do so.

The overall purse for the race is approximately £150,000, with the winning horse receiving some £85,000.

Arkle winners have an excellent record in subsequent Two-mile Champion Chases. So, this race is not only important in its own right, it also acts a leading trial for future events.

Cheltenham Racecourse generates gate revenues of £7 million over the four-day Cheltenham Festival, with a significant influx of Irish spectators enjoying the performances of the Irish-trained horses.

Over 200,000 pints of Guinness are consumed at the Festival - which also provides major retail opportunities for spectators - and around £1 million is bet on-site on each race.

History Of The Arkle Challenge Trophy

The Arkle Challenge Trophy replaced the Costwold Chase at Cheltenham Festival in 1969. Its name celebrates the success of Arkle, a triple winner of the Cheltenham Gold Cup in the mid-1960s.

After originally being ran on the second day of the festival, Cheltenham Racecourse switched the race to the opening day in 1980. Waterford Castle were the first sponsors of the race in 1991, before Guinness lent their name to the race between 1994-99. The Irish Independent newspaper followed in 2000 and sponsored the race for 11 years, until current sponsor the Racing Post newspaper took over in 2012.

Barry Geraghty is the only jockey to have won the race four times, courtesy of: Moscow Flyer (2002), Forpadydeplasterer (2009), Sprinter Sacre (2012) and Simonsig (2013).

Several other riders have won the race on three occasions, namely:

Glen Kelly - Bright Penny (1946), Top Cash (1948) and Grand Refrain (1949)
Pat Taaffe  - Mountcashel King (1961), Ben Stack (1963) and Flyingbolt (1965)
Richard Dunwoody - Waterloo Boy (1989), Remittance Man (1991) and Ventana Canyon (1996)
Jamie Osborne - Young Pokey (1992), Travado (1993) and Nakir (1994)
Tony McCoy - Or Royal (1997), Champleve (1998) and Well Chief (2004)

Trainer Tom Dreaper holds the record number of five wins, with his horses Fortria (1958), Mountcashel King (1961), Ben Stack (1963), Flyingbolt (1965) and Alpheus (1971) all victorious in this race.

2014 Arkle Challenge Trophy Result

Pipe Dynasty Gains Fifth Arkle With Western Warhorse

33/1 outsider Western Warhorse fought off the challenge of 11/4 joint favourite Champagne Fever to give trainer David Pipe his first ever Arkle Chase to follow in the footsteps of his father, Martin, who won the race four times with Or Royal, Champleve, Well Chief and Contraband.

On Good to Soft (Good in Places) going, it was Western Warhorse who led the way until the second fence, where Ruby Walsh urged Champagne Fever to the head of proceedings, with co-favourite Trifolium keeping close order. As the race wore on, Western Warhorse looked to be fading heading towards the third from home, but rallied under a brilliant ride from Tom Scudamore and stayed on to reel in Champagne Fever on the run in and win by a head, with Trifolium making no impression up the hill.

Western Warhorse became the only horse to win at double figure odds within the last 10 renewals, ending a brief run of odds-on favourites landing the spoils.

Champagne Fever lost no caste in defeat and Willie Mullins' Cheltenham stalwart has multiple entries ahead of the 2015 Festival, while the fourth horse home Dodging Bullets has emerged as a real contender for this year's Queen Mother Champion Chase.

2013 Arkle Challenge Trophy Result

A Below-Par Simonsig Still Too Good For His Arkle Rivals

Like Sprinter Sacre a year earlier, the Nicky Henderson-trained and Barry Geraghty-ridden Simonsig justified odds-on favouritism - after racing home to Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy glory.

However, unlike his illustrious stablemate, the son of Fair Mix had to work harder than expected to record a two-and-a-quarter length victory over Irish challenger Bailey Green - as, while he never look in danger of defeat, the seven-year-old was far from impressive.

Subsequent tests showed the horse to be suffering from an accumulation of Mucus in the lungs - a viable reason for a below-par performance.

Simonsig's chief market rival, Champion Hurdle runner-up Overturn, lost whatever chance he had following a blunder at the third-last - allowing the 33-1 mount of David Casey to chase Simonsig home.

After a win in the 2012 Neptune Novices’ Hurdle at the Festival, Simonsig had looked a natural recruit to the chasing game - to the extent that many saw his Arkle victory as a foregone conclusion.

He remains an exciting prospect for 2014, but whether he will be asked to take on Sprinter Sacre is currently deemed unlikely.

2012 Arkle Challenge Trophy Result

Nicky Henderson Equals Cheltenham Record With Sprinter Sacre Success

Sprinter Sacre was favourite to win the Trophy - at odds of 8/11 - the Nicky Henderson-trained gelding showed his class from the outset of the race, by jumping to the front when leaving the back straight.

Cue Card kept in contention but - after an excellent leap at the last - Sprinter Sacre came home with seven lengths in hand. Second favourite Al Ferof - who had beaten Sprinter Sacre in last season’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle - took off way too early at the ditch down the back straight and never got back into the race.

Jockey Barry Geraghty was fulsome in his praise for Sprinter Sacre, saying: “He’s unbelievable. He has so much pace and scope (and) I’m not sure I’ve had the privilege to ride anything like that."

Trainer Nicky Henderson added: “He’s a dreadful show-off. That was really worth watching. There was no point in Barry stopping him.

They gave him a good lead and went a nice pace. When he’s jumping like that, it’s a joy.

"He looked a proper horse and he was just showing off.”

The win was Henderson’s 40th at the Cheltenham Festival, equalling the record of Fulke Walwyn.

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