Cheltenham Festival: Shishkin and Energumene compared plus Arkle Chase tips

Can Energumene upset the odds and beat Shishkin?

Shishkin Energumene Arkle Chase

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The Arkle Chase at the 2021 Cheltenham Festival promises to be a battle of epic proportions as two of the most promising novice chasers in the division go head-to-head.

Shishkin is the odds-on favourite, with the Nicky Henderson-trained seven-year-old having adapted seamlessly to fences after winning the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle last season.

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

Shishkin Nico de Boinville Kempton December 30, 2020

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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.

Shishkin Nico de Boinville Kempton December 23, 2020

Cheltenham tips: Shishkin looks banker bet for 2021 festival

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

Energumene wins at Naas 2021

Arkle Chase latest odds and tips for Cheltenham 2021

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.”

Timeform:SHISHKIN deserves his position at the head of the market, though ENERGUMENE is also a hugely exciting prospect and a clash between the pair will be fascinating viewing.”

Energumene Paul Townend Leopardstown February 6, 2021

FULL PREVIEW: RUBY WALSH AND FRANK HICKEY REVEAL ANTEPOST PICKS FOR ARKLE CHASE

When is the Arkle Chase?

The Arkle Chase takes place on Tuesday March 16, on the first day of the Cheltenham Festival 2021. It’s scheduled to start at 13.55.

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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