*All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widget, while in-copy odds are accurate at the time of publication but subject to change
However, Irish hopes are pinned on Willie Mullins’ exciting prospect Energumene and many tipsters – including our own expert trader Frank Hickey – are suggesting the brown gelding has the potential to serve it up to his main rival.
Throw Dan Skelton’s front-running Allmankind into the mix and we’re set for an absolute classic on the Old Course at Prestbury Park.
Don’t forget, Paddy Power are offering non-runner money back on every single contest at Cheltenham 2021 so you don’t lose out if your pick doesn’t race.
Shishkin holds all the cards
Shishkin is comfortably the antepost favourite for the Arkle Chase, and it’s easy to see why.
He has won four out of five races over hurdles – including a truly remarkable battling victory in last year’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle when nothing went his way – while the only blot on his copybook is a fall on his second outing over flights at Newbury way back in December 2019.
Shishkin (OR 164)
Chase Runs – 3, Wins – 3, Placings – 111
Hurdle Runs – 4, Wins – 3, Placings – F111
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Nico de Boinville rode in every one of those contests and the partnership has flourished over fences this season with Shishkin bolting up on his chase debut at Kempton before further comprehensive wins at Kempton again and Doncaster.
That unbeaten chasing record – and dominant displays – has convinced punters to pile in, but some critics suggest Shishkin is yet to be truly challenged over obstacles and it remains to be seen how well he will perform under pressure.
Energumene the value pick
While Shishkin appears the obvious choice to claim victory at Cheltenham, a number of leading voices in the industry have claimed the market may not accurately reflect the true make up of this Arkle field.
There is a growing consensus that there is not much to choose between Shishkin and Energumene, especially after the latter’s demolition of an impressive field in the Irish Arkle at Leopardstown.
Energumene (OR 163)
Chase Runs – 3, Wins – 3, Placings – 111
Hurdle Runs – 1, Wins – 1, Placings – 1
Mullins’ charger beat Franco De Port by 10 lengths without ever really extending himself, making it three victories from three chase starts – and a combined winning margin of 36.5 lengths.
Energumene has also shown a real turn of foot over his fences, posting impressive sectionals during blistering wins at Gowran Park and Naas despite carrying plenty of weight, although he is yet to run outside of Ireland.
Our experts’ views
Ruby Walsh: “I think SHISHKIN is the best horse in the race but he’s odds on and with Paddy’s non-runner money back offer I’d sooner take a chance on another. I’ll go with ENERGUMENE for a bit of value.”
Frank Hickey: I think ENERGUMENE is the bet in the race. He has been impressive and there is substance to how impressive he has been.”
When is the Arkle Chase?
Arkle Chase winners at the last five festivals
2020 – Put The Kettle On (Horse), Aidan Coleman (Jockey), Henry de Bromhead (Trainer)
2019 – Dec Des Genievres, Paul Townend, Willie Mullins
2018 – Footpad, Ruby Walsh, Willie Mullins
2017 – Altior, Nico de Boinville, Nicky Henderson
2016 – Douvan, Ruby Walsh, Willie Mullins
CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL‘S BIG RACES
March 16 – 13.20 – Supreme Novices’ Hurdle latest odds and tips
March 16 – 13.55 – Arkle Chase latest odds and tips
March 16 – 15.05 – Champion Hurdle latest odds and tips
March 16 – 15.40 – Mares’ Hurdle latest odds and tips
March 17 – 13.20 – Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle latest odds and tips
March 17 – 13.55 – Festival Novices’ Chase latest odds and tips
March 17 – 15.05 – Queen Mother Champion Chase latest odds and tips
March 17 – 16.50 – Champion Bumper latest odds and tips
March 18 – 13.20 – Marsh Novices’ Chase latest odds and tips
March 18 – 14.30 – Ryanair Chase latest odds and tips
March 18 – 15.05 – Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle latest odds and tips
March 19 – 13.20 – Triumph Hurdle latest odds and tips
March 19 – 14.30 – Albert Bartlett Novices’ Chase latest odds and tips
March 19 – 15.05 – Gold Cup latest odds and tips
March 19 – 16.15 – Mrs Paddy Power Mares’ Chase latest odds and tips
CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL DAY ONE SCHEDULE
13:20 – Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m 87y
13.55 – Arkle Chase (Grade 1) 1m 7f 199y
14.30 – Ultima Handicap Chase (Grade 3) 3m 1f
15.05 – Champion Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m 87y
15.40 – Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m 3f 200y
16.15 – Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) 2m 87y
16.50 – National Hunt Chase (Grade 2) 3m 5f 201y
*Paddy will be all over your telly box throughout the Cheltenham Festival sponsoring ITV’s live coverage from Prestbury Park – and you can get free and exclusive tipping columns EVERY DAY from Ruby Walsh, Matt Chapman and Mick Fitzgerald here on PP News.
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- Arkle Chase latest odds and tips