horse racing

The road to the 2014 Cheltenham Festival: The Arkle…

Do we want to be backing a first time faller/un-seater for festival success?

Just over 2 years ago I wrote a similar article, using the heading above, here on the NTF Blog, regarding the last fence departure on chasing debut of hot Arkle Chase fancy (at the time obviously!) Menorah. Fast forward 2 years and after a similar(ish) incident befell hot Arkle Chase fancy Grandouet at Sandown on Saturday I thought it was the right time to revisit, revive and update the old article and bring it back to life for current events….

GRANDOUET– Unseated rider at last on Chase debut

“Jumped big 1st, tracked leader, led 3 out, shaken up and headed next, a length down when blundered last and unseated rider”

Not the greatest chasing debuts in recent history from a horses that is expected to get pretty near the top of the chasing tree, I’m sure you will agree?

Despite making a complete hash of the last fence and unceremoniously dumping Barry Geraghty on his behind, GRANDOUET is still near the head of the Arkle Chase market at the Cheltenham Festival in March – the Henderson horse is now a general a 10-1/12-1 shot for Grade 1 glory in the spring, only 2013 Supreme Novices’ champion Champagne Fever is available at a shorter price.

However, if we take a look back at the chase debuts of the Arkle top 3 finishers over the past 12 seasons one thing is glaringly obvious; you need to stay on your feet on chasing debut if you are to have any pretensions of having a say in the finish of the premier 2 mile Grade 1 Novice Chase.

In fact the bare figures tell you its a massive advantage to not only stay on your feet but to have actually WON on your chasing debut.

Take a look at the last 12 Arkle top 3 finishers and how they fared on their respective Chasing debuts…


Simonsig – 1st on Chasing Debut

Bailey Green – 3rd

His Excellency – 1st


Sprinter Sacre – 1st

Cue Card – 1st

Menorah – UR (beaten 29 lengths in Arkle)


Captain Chris – 2nd

Finians Ranbow – 1st

Realt Dubh – 1st


Sizing Europe – 1st

Somersby – 1st

Osana – 1st


Forpadytheplasterer – 1st

Kalahari King – 1st

Planet Of Sound – 4th


Tidal Bay – 1st

Kruguyrova – 1st

Noland – 1st


My Way De Solzen – 1st (PU on only chase start in France as a 4yo before moving to A King)

Fair Along – 1st

Jack The Giant – 1st


Voy Por Ustedes – 1st

Monets Garden – 1st

Foreman – 2nd


Contraband – 2nd

Ashley Brook – 1st

River City – 1st


Well Chief – 1st

Kicking King – 5th

Le Duc – 1st


Azertyuiop – 1st

Impek – 1st

Isio – 1st


Moscow Flyer – FELL

Seebald – 1st

Armaturk – 1st

So from the last 36 Arkle Chase top 3 finishers…..

28 WON on their Chase debut

31 finished in the top 2 on their Chase debut

Only TWO failed to complete the course on their chase debut….and one of those was the mighty MOSCOW FLYER! (the other was the not so mighty, but still well above average, Menorah)

If we look a bit deeper and concentrate only on the Arkle winners and their form figures over fences in their season leading up to their Arkle triumph then we get the following…

Simonsig – 11

Sprinter Sacre – 111

Captain Chris – 2221

Sizing Europe – 1111

Forpadydeplasterer – 1222

Tiday Bay – 1112

My Way De Solzen – 1211

Voy Por Ustedes – 1111

Contraband – 2213

Well Chief – 1

Azertyuiop – 111

Moscow Flyer – F111F

Only 1 of 12 failed to complete on ALL starts before their Arkle triumph (Moscow Flyer, who actually had TWO falls from his 5 starts!!)

10 of the 12 were yet to finish out with the top 2 on all chase starts before the Arkle, only Contraband stops that from being 11 from 13 as he finished…wait for it…3rd on one of his runs! 

The figures really don’t look promising for Grandouet to go on and achieve Arkle Chase success at the 2014 Cheltenham Festival in March.

Obviously racing is not always as cut and dry as this (if only!!) but failing to complete on chasing debut is far from ideal and I would be wanting to see a clear round from Grandouet before even entertaining backing him for festival Chase glory.

Is a clear round on debut a major key to Arkle success?

The figures point firmly towards YES.

Is completing on ALL chase starts in your Novice season leading up to the Arkle a key component to Festival glory?

The stats point in no uncertain terms to YES. (Unless of course your name is Moscow Flyer, then you can do what the hell you want!!!)

Jumping is,after all, the name of the game…….

Ben (NTF)

4 responses to “The road to the 2014 Cheltenham Festival: The Arkle…”

  1. Ben

    I recall reading somewhere to nail the Arkle winner, they had to have a Official Hurdle Rating of something very high, say 140+. Can you dig the Official Hurdle ratings of these winners out please? I am sure they were all over 140 and in some cases most were the top-rated hurdler on the day.

    Examples were Sizing Europe, FPTP, Tidal Bay etc.

    • Hi Paul

      There is certainly a stat that suggests that it is an advantage to be rated 140+ over hurdles. I think the stat is 13 of the last 14 were rated 142+ over hurdles. Top rated hurdlers are something like 5 from last 13. Last year, however, the top rated hurdler in the race was actually Overturn on 164 compared to Simonsig on 160. I would say you probably do need to have a 142+ sort of rating but being top rated hurdler maybe isn’t quite so as important.

      Cheers – Ben (NTF)

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