2021 Arkle Challenge Trophy Novices' Chase Guide

Cheltenham - March 16 2021
Cheltenham 13:55
6
Nico de Boinville

Shishkin

J:
 
Nico de Boinville
T:
 
Nicky Henderson
Age: 7
Weight: 11-4
OR: 164
Days: -25

The seven year old since falling on his hurdles debut has shown bundles of ability and plenty of gears when it comes to finishing his races which have seen him land three contests in a row at Newbury, Huntingdon and of course Prestbury Park.

His win in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle has since been franked with the narrow second Abacadbras for Gordon Elliott since going on to land the Grade One Morgiana Hurdle, with third Chantry House and fourth Asterion Forlonge both going on to win on chase debut.

Shishkin could not be upstaged and on his first start over fences in November he showed the racing world just how good he is by pinging every fence and showing the turn of foot of last term, when just being nudged by Nico De Boinville and going away from the second placed Mick Pastor with ease.

On his second start over fences he kept his outstanding unbeaten run going with another faultless round of jumping in the Grade Two Wayward Lad Novices' Chase at Kempton over Christmas, seeing off Tamaroc Du Mathan by 13 lengths who has since gone on to win the Grade Two Pendil Novices' Chase easily.

Henderson's superstar last time out took his unbeaten record to three races over fences at Doncaster landing the Grade Two Lightning Novices' Chase.

He has been nothing short of superb in every race this term and going back to better ground at Cheltenham, having course form, makes him tough to beat.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
03/12/22SAN15.5GS11-103
16/03/22CHL16Sft11-10PU
22/01/22ASC17Sft11-71
27/12/21KEM16Sft11-31
10/04/21AIN16GS11-41
Cheltenham - March 16 2021
Cheltenham 13:55
1
Harry Skelton

Allmankind

J:
 
Harry Skelton
T:
 
Dan Skelton
Age: 5
Weight: 11-4
OR: 160
Days: -33

Having been trained on the flat before his national hunt career many thought that the four year old would stay over hurdles but Skelton this season decided to send him over the bigger obstacles and it has paid off.

He started his life over hurdles at Warwick seeing off an average field in good style but what he has done since that has been superb.

He headed to Cheltenham in the Grade Two Triumph Hurdle Trial and after going from the front he could not be stopped winning well, with the second, third and fourth since going on to frank that form.

He did the same when he went to Chepstow over Christmas landing the first Grade One of his career in the Finale Juvenile Hurdle and that set up a run in the Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham festival.

Having been prominent in the market he could only finish a fading third and he headed back to Prestbury Park last time out for his seasonal debut and again was underwhelming.

Skelton sent him over fences at Warwick in the Stan Mellor Memorial Novices’ Chase and he put in a faultless round of jumping to land the event with ease.

The form of that 13 length win has since been franked with second placed Zanza winning next time out at Newbury in a Handicap Chase.

Next time out the superstar stepped up to Grade One company over fences for the first time in his career and made a mockery of a superb field to land the Henry VII Novices' Chase at Sandown.

He extended his unbeaten record over fences to three races at Warwick last time out when landing the Grade Two Kingmaker Novices' Chase by 14 lengths.

He will set off in front in this race and will hope no one will catch him, but his jumping will be under scrutiny more than ever before and he looks to be playing for the places.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
27/12/22CHP19.5Sft12-011
04/12/22HUN20Gd11-107
28/10/22NMK16GS10-311
08/04/22AIN20GS11-77
27/02/22FON19GS11-4PU
Cheltenham - March 16 2021
Cheltenham 13:55
4
Paul Townend

Franco De Port

J:
 
Paul Townend
T:
 
W P Mullins
Age: 6
Weight: 11-4
OR: 156
Days: -42

Franco De Port is the second string for Willie Mullins in the race and could be a live each player if being able to pick up the pieces if the front runners go off too quickly.

Having been a decent hurdler the six year old has turned into a superb novice chaser this term, racing three times and winning two nice events before placing behind Energumene last time out.

He made his debut back in November at Thurles over 2m2f and was an easy winner of a Beginners Chase and used that to land the Grade One Racing Post Novice Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas.

The gelding went back to Leopardstown during the Dublin Racing Festival looking to land back to back black type winners , but had to settle for second behind his stablemate.

It looks a very tough task to reverse that form, but if running his race we would not be putting off anyone to see him finish off the pace into the placings.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
04/02/23LEO24Y11-105
28/12/22LEO24Sft11-104
03/12/22AUT22Hy10-65
13/11/22AUT27.5Hy10-105
01/10/22GOW20Gd/Y11-34
Cheltenham - March 16 2021
Cheltenham 13:55
2
Rachael Blackmore

Captain Guinness

J:
 
Rachael Blackmore
T:
 
Henry De Bromhead
Age: 6
Weight: 11-4
OR: 153
Days: -44

The six year old did not run in any bumpers and was thrown straight over hurdles last season, showing great signs of speed winning on debut in a 23 runner maiden.

He returned at Punchestown just a month later and finished a narrows second behind the likeable Andy Dufresne for Gordon Elliott in the Grade Two Moscow Flyer Novices Hurdle.

That looked a solid prep run before the Supreme Novices Hurdle where he was still a bit of an unknown entity and at 14/1 was travelling like a dream turning for home.

However, with the race being a mess for the most part he was bought down by Elixir D'ainay who was hampered by stablemate Asterion Forlonge.

He was seen again for the first time on chase debut and although being heavily backed was pulled up with a circuit to go.

He was given some time after that race to find the problem and in December De Bromhead got him back on track and he was an emphatic winner at Punchestown.

Since then he has been seen twice, finishing behind Energumene at Naas in a Novice Chase and then when putting it up to his rival again in the Grade One Irish Arkle but unfortunately falling two out.

Captain Guinness is another big each way player, but looks to be up against it when it comes to winning the race.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
27/12/22LEO17Y11-122
13/11/22NAV16Y11-101
26/04/22PUN16Gd/Y11-124
08/04/22AIN20GS11-76
27/02/22NAA16Sft11-81
Cheltenham - March 16 2021
Cheltenham 13:55
3
Harry Cobden

Eldorado Allen

J:
 
Harry Cobden
T:
 
Colin Tizzard
Age: 7
Weight: 11-4
OR: 149
Days: -23

Eldorado Allen for Colin Tizzard has some strong form in the book heading into the event, but should be no match for the horses at the top of the betting

Having been a fair hurdler the six year old made his chase debut this term and got off to a winning start at Newton Abbott, seeing off the impressive Stormy Ireland.

He was then sent to Cheltenham for a Grade Two Novices' Chase last month and although being a tad fortunate with Gumball falling when leading, he went on to pick up the pieces and win the event by 19 lengths.

Tizzard then sent him to Sandown for the Grade One Henry VIII Novices' Chase and he was ultimately outclassed into fourth behind Allmankind.

He was again seen off in impressive style last time out at Doncaster win the Grade Two Lightning Novices' Chase behind Shishkin and on off the back off both those runs has it all to do

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
26/12/22KEM24Sft11-104
19/11/22HAY25.5Sft11-102
29/10/22WET24GS11-82
07/04/22AIN25GS11-77
17/03/22CHL20.5Sft11-103
Cheltenham - March 16 2021
Cheltenham 13:55
5
NON-RUNNER

Numitor

J:
 
NON-RUNNER
T:
 
Heather Main
Age: 7
Weight: 11-4
OR: 128
Days: -48

The final runner and big outsider is Numitor for trainer Heather Main, who is a nice horse in his own right but when it comes to competing in a Grade One is massively outclassed on ratings.

The seven year old has been seen five times already this season which is a negative in itself when heading into the festival.

He had his first run of the season at Stratford over hurdles and finished a good fourth of 12, with leading Albert Bartlett contender Barbados Bucks back in second.

He went to Hereford for a final spin over hurdles and then his trainer sent him chasing, making a winning debut over two miles at Ffos Las.

He then backed that up two starts ago at Wincanton when landing a Handicap Chase by six lengths and when seeking the hat-trick last time out could only settle for third in a weak field.

He is a handicapper at best and stepping up into this Grade One leaves him needing a miracle.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
25/11/22NBY20Gd11-23
16/04/22HAY20GS11-122
04/03/22DON19Sft11-121
08/01/22SAN15.5Hy11-24
27/11/21NBY16.5GS10-112