Arkle Novice Chase Guide

1. Articulum

Trainer - Terence O'Brien

Jockey -

Got off the mark over fences on his second start this term at Naas just under four weeks ago.

Finished second to Getabird in a Beginners Chase on debut at Punchestown, form that didn't work out over Christmas when the latter was beaten in a Grade One by Hardline when expected to win comfortably.

His own claims to push on here however.

2. Cubomania

Trainer - Gordon Elliott

Jockey -

First of a quartet of Elliott runners, beginning with the only non-Gigginstown owned horse Cubomania.

Began the season with four trips to Scotland, and came home with four wins, before taking a valuable Class Two at Cheltenham in October.

Couple of good placed efforts back on home soils since, but massive step-up in class now and stands toe-to-toe with much better rivals.

3. Duca De Thaix

Trainer - Gordon Elliott

Jockey -

Arrives at Leopardstown bidding for a hat-trick of wins after tasting dual successes at Fairyhouse on his two most recent starts.

His win most recently in a Grade A Handicap Chase came against stablemate Cubomania earlier this month, but is another that needs to handle the jump into top company.

Has shown plenty of promise in his handicapping days.

4. Hardline

Trainer - Gordon Elliott

Jockey -

Three from four since making the transition to fences, including a remarkable success over Getabird in a Grade One at Limerick on Boxing Day.

Also recorded victories at both Navan and Fairyhouse this term, and can booster his chances in the market for the English equivalent at the Cheltenham Festival in March.

Serious candidate.

5. Knocknanuss

Trainer - Gary Moore

Jockey -

Gary Moore is having a fine season in front of goal, and sends the lightly raced 9yo Knocknanuss over from his Sussex based yard.

Falling on his first start over fences, he quickly put that right a week later when scoring at Fakenham, before making all in a decent contest at Newbury in November.

Came into contact with classy French raider back at Plumpton latest, but has a nice profile going forward.

6. Le Richebourg

Trainer - Joseph O'Brien

Jockey -

The favourite, Le Richebourg will be looking to booster his claims for the real thing in under six weeks time at Cheltenham, and looks to provide a golden opportunity for his trainer's first Festival success.

After two wins from two, he finished second to a decent Elliott novice in Delta Work - all set for a crack at the RSA, before returning to the minimum two-mile trip and romping home at this venue in the Grade One Racing Post Novice Chase over Christmas.

Leading contender, looks hard to beat.

7. Mengli Khan

Trainer - Gordon Elliott

Jockey -

A bright start to life chasing, it all came crashing down on Boxing Day here behind Le Richebourg when a well fancied 7/4 favourite.

Decent hurdler - finishing third in both the Supreme at Cheltenham and in the Champion Novice Hurdle at Punchestown, he looked a promising asset moving up to the larger obstacles, but has ground to make up and improvement to offer.

Chance of doing so.

8. Mind's Eye

Trainer - Henry De Bromhead

Jockey -

Another who made a game start to chasing but has fallen away in better company.

Solid form behind Voix Du Reve in a Beginners Chase at Galway before winning for the first time at Wexford three weeks later.

Hard to fancy with so much work to do.

9. Paloma Blue

Trainer - Henry De Bromhead

Jockey -

Paloma Blue could of perhaps been good enough to win the supreme had conditions been in his favour, but yet he still managed to finish a close fourth.

Always expected to be a better chaser, he brushed off the cobwebs in a Beginners Chase at Navan before winning over course and distance two days after Christmas.

Now steps back into the Grade One frame and is an interesting prospect.

Keep your eye on him.

10. Us And Them

Trainer - Joseph O'Brien

Jockey -

Another for Joseph O'Brien, but foolish to think Us And Them stands simply as a pacemaking role for Le Richebourg.

Worthy contenders with valuable attributes. Scored on his second start over fences - beating Duca De Thaix who he meets again, before finding Hardline and his stable companion Le Richebourg just slightly too good.

Ground to make up, but not to rule out.

11. Voix Du Reve

Trainer - Willie Mullins

Jockey -

Promising looking chaser in the making, catching everyone's eye at Punchestown halfway through November - and on that evidence is seven lengths better off than Hardline.

However, rarely proves consistent enough - including his lengthy spell over hurdles, and that showed when failing to land a blow to Le Richebourg.

Perhaps he went too hard from the front that day, so a change of tactics might be in the offing.

12. Winter Escape

Trainer - Aidan Anthony Howard

Jockey -

Three wins in a row for Winter Escape, including a smart success at Punchestown three weeks ago.

Overcoming a bad hang around the first bend to score under Mark Walsh, you would suspect a correction in a few 'novicey' mistakes would see him even better off, and could be another looking to promote his shout for a shot at the English Arkle at Cheltenham, against the best of the British.