Arkle Challenge Trophy Betting

The Arkle Challenge Trophy is a Grade 1 National Hunt chase covering a distance of two miles. It was founded in 1969 as a replacement for the Cotswold Chase, one of the first events established at the Cheltenham Festival after World War II.

Novice chasers aged five years and older are eligible to participate in the Arkle, with their weight set at 11 stone 7 pounds and an allowance of seven pounds for mares. Each March, the race takes place on the left-handed turf of Cheltenham’s Old Course, featuring a dozen fences along the way. For safety, the field is currently limited to 20 starters, and no more than 19 have actually run since the 1960 Cotswold Chase, when there were 25.

During its first decade, the Arkle Challenge Trophy was always run on the second day of the Festival. Since 1980, however, it has been run on opening day, scheduled as the second race and widely acclaimed as the foremost minimum-distance chase for novices in the National Hunt calendar.

Named after a famous Irish Thoroughbred racehorse—the bay gelding Arkle (1957~1970), which won the Cheltenham Gold Cup on three occasions in the mid-1960s—the Arkle Challenge Trophy has always enjoyed a strong association with the Ireland. Its first sponsor, in 1991, was an Irish hotel and golf resort, Waterford Castle. From 1994 to 1999, Irish brewer Guinness claimed the title spot. And ever since 2000, it has been sponsored by the Irish Independent newspaper.

In its inaugural year, the race was worth £1,365 to the winner, Chatham, a 10/1 entrant trained by Fred Rimell and ridden by Terry Biddlecombe. Today, the total prize purse for the Irish Independent Arkle Challenge Trophy Chase (its full official name) is £130,000. Of that amount, as much as £85,000 goes to the winner.

Unlike many of the other races on the card at Cheltenham’s National Hunt Festival, short odds rule the Arkle Challenge Trophy. The past 20 winners all started at odds no bigger than 11/1, and fully 22 of the previous 24 winners finished first or second their last time out. That said, favourites have not fared as well as might have been expected, with only six of them ever winning here and only two since 1992.

Winners at the Arkle Challenge Trophy frequently go on to success in other major races. They include Remittance Man (1991), Klairon Davis (1995), Flagship Uberalles (1999), Moscow Flyer (2002), Azertyuiop (2003), and Voy Por Ustedes (2006), all of which went on to victories in subsequent runnings of the Queen Mother Champion Chase. In similar fashion, the 1978 Arkle champion Alverton took home the Cheltenham Gold Cup the following year.

The record for the fastest two-mile Arkle Challenge Trophy time is currently held by Nicky Henderson’s seven-year-old Tiutchev, an English racehorse that started out his career flat racing for trainer Roger Charlton. After switching to jumps in 1999, Tiutchev won the 2000 Arkle in just 3:46.5, smashing the previous mark set by Or Royal in 1997 by six full seconds.

Over the years, French mounts have done quite well in the Arkle, taking the top prize back across the Channel from seven out of the last 19 runnings. The most recent two were jumpers trained by Alan King—Voy Por Ustedes in 2006 at odds of 15/2 and My Way de Solzen in 2007 at 7/2, both with jockey Robert Thornton at the reins.

Irish horses have won eleven times, including the last two Arkle Challenge Trophies. Tom Cooper’s Forpadydeplasterer did it in 2009 at 8/1, and Henry De Bromhead’s eight-year-old Sizing Europe came first in 2010 at 6/1. The latter broke a string of seven straight years with no winner older than seven. No nine-year-old has won since Danish Flight in 1988.

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