Irish Arkle Novice Chase Guide

Leopardstown - February 06 2021
Leopardstown 14:10
5
Paul Townend

Energumene

J:
 
Paul Townend
T:
 
W P Mullins
Age: 7
Weight: 11-12
OR: 159
Days: 24

The short priced favourite represents the Mullins stable and has a lofty rating of 159.

Only having one run over hurdles yielded a huge margin victory at short odds, with the plan seemingly being to always go over fences.

Yet to taste defeat over obstacles, he set a strong standard when last seen brushing Captain Guinness aside at Naas on deep ground.

He has form over further as he bolted up on chase debut over 2.5 miles back in November. He showed plenty of natural pace to win last time out and handles two miles on soft ground very well.

The win over Captain Guinness was visually impressive but his price does look incredibly short.

The stable first string is moving into Graded company for the first time and could be vulnerable to one who’s got more experience in graded company.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
06/02/21LEO17.5Sft11-121
13/01/21NAA16Hy11-101
20/11/20GOW20Hy12-01
07/03/20GOW16Sft/Hy11-121
10/01/20THU16Y12-01
Leopardstown - February 06 2021
Leopardstown 14:10
1
Danny Mullins

Blackbow

J:
 
Danny Mullins
T:
 
W P Mullins
Age: 8
Weight: 11-12
OR: N/A
Days: 24

A big priced entrant for Willie Mullins, 8 year old Blackbow has improved markedly for a switch to the larger obstacles.

0/4 as a hurdler, he broke his maiden under rules when winning well on chase debut. Some smart horses were in his wake that day including Entoucas and Defi Bleu.

Subsequently tried in a grade 1 at Christmas, he fell early in the race so gave no real indication as to how he stacked up at the top table.

Last seen when well beaten behind stable mate Energumene in novice chase at Naas would suggest he has far too much to find to get truly competitive in this.

A big price runner he’s unlikely to be playing a part in the finish of this.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
18/03/21CHL20GS11-46
06/02/21LEO17.5Sft11-123
13/01/21NAA16Hy11-103
26/12/20LEO17Y12-0F
22/11/20NAV17Sft12-01
Leopardstown - February 06 2021
Leopardstown 14:10
2
Rachael Blackmore

Captain Guinness

J:
 
Rachael Blackmore
T:
 
Henry De Bromhead
Age: 6
Weight: 11-12
OR: 150
Days: 24

The representative for Henry De Bromhead and Rachael Blackmore, Captain Guinness has had a mixed start to life as a chaser.

Sent off a short priced favourite for his chasing debut, he pulled up sharply with a reported heart defect.

Given time to recover he confirmed promise as a chaser and won on heavy ground in a beginners chase at Punchestown, oozing class as he did so.

Last seen in the same race as Blackbow and Energumene, he was well held by the Mullins winner and has a large looking 8 lengths to make up on the latter.

He’s shown plenty of promise as a chaser and was a smart novice hurdler last campaign. Heavy ground probably isn’t his ideal so if conditions stay on the better side of soft he could make the frame.

Leopardstown - February 06 2021
Leopardstown 14:10
3
Jonathan Moore

Darver Star

J:
 
Jonathan Moore
T:
 
Gavin Cromwell
Age: 9
Weight: 11-12
OR: 155
Days: 42

Slightly older than most of his counterparts, Gavin Cromwell’s Darver Star was highly consistent last season as a hurdler.

3rd in the Royal Bond, 2nd in the Irish Champion hurdle and 3rd in the Champion hurdle make up a smart looking CV.

He took to fences immediately and won well at Punchestown on chase debut by 12 lengths to Le Musigny.

Heavy ground blunted his ability next time out at Grade 2 level and he only managed 3rd when sent off favourite behind Felix Desjy and Sizing Pottsie.

A return to a sounder surface saw him run well again over course and distance behind the impressive Franco De Port, only beaten 4.5 lengths.

If the ground doesn’t get any worse he’s clearly a classy operator and has huge place claims.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
10/05/21KLN20Gd/Y11-26
30/04/21PUN16Y12-06
18/03/21CHL20GS11-47
06/02/21LEO17.5Sft11-127
26/12/20LEO17Y12-02
Leopardstown - February 06 2021
Leopardstown 14:10
4
Donagh Meyler

Embittered

J:
 
Donagh Meyler
T:
 
Joseph Patrick O'Brien
Age: 7
Weight: 11-12
OR: 144
Days: 42

Representing Gigginstown and Joseph O’Brien, Embittered has yet to deliver over fences despite running creditably in defeat.

He’s only won one race over obstacles under rules and that came as a hurdler. His form over fences though is 224 and he’s bumped into some classy operators in beginner chase events.

Beaten by the likes of Easywork and Andy Dufresne are good runs on paper but he was well found out in Grade 1 company behind Franco De Port and Darver Star last time out.

Unlikely to be playing a crucial role here, beaten 21 lengths over course and distance when last seen by re-opposing rivals gives the 7 year old a mountain to climb.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
02/07/21WEX16Gd12-02
28/04/21PUN20Y10-120
17/03/21CHL16GS11-0F
06/02/21LEO17.5Sft11-124
26/12/20LEO17Y12-04
Leopardstown - February 06 2021
Leopardstown 14:10
6
Jack Kennedy

Felix Desjy

J:
 
Jack Kennedy
T:
 
Gordon Elliott
Age: 8
Weight: 11-12
OR: 155
Days: 42

Gordon Elliott’s sole runner, Felix Desjy was a prolific hurdler and showed his class over timber winning the Top Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree.

A win on the flat last summer was followed by an early fall in the Galway plate when sent off favourite.

The switch to fences was immediately effective, a 31 length winner on chase debut he backed that up with another victory in a Grade 2 novice event at Punchestown, beating Sizing Pottsie and Darver Star.

Last seen when favourite for the Grade 1 racing post novices’ chase at Christmas, he failed to justify market support and faded back into 3rd behind Franco De Port and Darver Star.

He has form on a mix of grounds but weakened quite tamely last time out over course and distance.

Recapturing the form he showed at Punchestown would see him go close but it’s concerning how quickly he faded out of contention here at Christmas.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
20/03/21THU18Y11-12F
06/02/21LEO17.5Sft11-128
26/12/20LEO17Y12-03
14/11/20PUN16Sft/Hy11-61
05/10/20KLN17Gd12-01
Leopardstown - February 06 2021
Leopardstown 14:10
7
B J Cooper

Franco De Port

J:
 
B J Cooper
T:
 
W P Mullins
Age: 6
Weight: 11-12
OR: 156
Days: 42

Another one for team Mullins, he was a quietly average hurdler but has really showed himself to good effect since the switch to fences.

The 6 year old was a handy winner on chase debut and further boosted his perfect record as a chaser when winning the Grade 1 Racing Post novices’ chase over course and distance last time out.

A good jump at the last saw him confirm his first graded success on the run-in and he looked incredibly smart in doing so.
Following a similar route to last year’s winner Notebook, Franco De Port could well back up his victory here last time. 

He’s an attractive looking each way price and holds a few of his rivals on form.

He’s incredibly versatile when it comes to going and could well prove his last success was more than luck. One to keep onside. 

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
27/04/21PUN24.5Y11-12F
04/04/21FAI20Y11-122
16/03/21CHL16Sft11-45
06/02/21LEO17.5Sft11-122
26/12/20LEO17Y12-01
Leopardstown - February 06 2021
Leopardstown 14:10
8
Darragh O'Keeffe

I'm A Game Changer

J:
 
Darragh O'Keeffe
T:
 
Andrew McNamara
Age: 9
Weight: 11-12
OR: 134
Days: 36

A triple figure price entrant, I’m A Game Changer has run 9 times over fences but has yet to win over the larger obstacles.

Last seen being beaten out of sight by Al Boum Photo on New Year’s Day, it was his first run for new connections.

He has got plenty of form over 2 miles but has struggled to get competitive in average looking races.

Highly unlikely to be anywhere near the head of the field at the end of this, the 9 year old is best left alone.

Leopardstown - February 06 2021
Leopardstown 14:10
9
Mark Walsh

Unexcepted

J:
 
Mark Walsh
T:
 
W P Mullins
Age: 7
Weight: 11-12
OR: N/A
Days: 109

Finally the last runner for Willie Mullins is Unexcepted. The 7 year old is very lightly raced and has only had 1 run over fences.

He opened his account at the first time of asking and beat Entoucas well by 8 lengths.

He was fairly quiet as a hurdler but was well fancied for the big two mile handicap hurdle on this card last year but failed to complete having weakened as the field turned for home.

He overcame a mammoth lay off to win on his first start as a chaser, to do it eased down against a smart enough rival was very impressive.

He’s not been seen since, but clearly runs well when fresh and is garnering some market support to sit second in the market behind stablemate Energumene.

If fully tuned up he can run his race but has yet to show himself well against strong competition.

Plenty of question marks for a horse so short in the betting but he looked a very natural chaser on his only chase start to date.

Watch for further market support.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
29/04/21PUN16Y11-98
06/02/21LEO17.5Sft11-126
20/10/20TIP17Sft/Hy12-01
01/02/20LEO16Y10-12P
26/12/19LIM20Hy11-112

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