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The From The Horse’s Mouth team took a close look at the Arkle Chase and top trader Frank Hickey likes the look of Haut En Couleurs as his fancy.
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“Edwardstone’s jumping is very good and accurate in the main and I would have no concerns in that regard. He’s rated 150 over hurdles and while he unseated on his only chase start last season, he has been very good this season. Last season, he was third in a Betfair Hurdle, fifth in a County and third at Aintree over 2m4f. He also was sixth in Shishkin’s Supreme. He deserves to be favourite and while ordinarily you might think he isn’t good enough on hurdles ability to win an Arkle Chase, this definitely does appear to be a renewal lacking in a top notcher (but it is very competitive).
“Blue Lord is 3-3 over fences but I wouldn’t like him. I’m not sure he is the strongest finisher and at the prices, I’m not sure he is that far ahead of the other Irish horses.
“Saint Sam was a nice winner on his chase debut and hit the second last at the Dublin Racing Festival but stayed on again to only be beaten 4l. He was second in the Boodles last year off 11st 8lbs.
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“Ciel De Neige is rated 139 over hurdles and placed in a Fred Winter but he’s been a bit disappointing in the last two renewals of the County. He’s 3-3 over fences and has the stamina to win over 2m4f, which can be important in the Arkle. His hurdles form would suggest he has a bit to find but in such an open year, it is probably worth letting him take his chance.
“Haut En Couleurs was third in a Triumph on his debut for Willie and then third at Punchestown. On his chase debut, he jumped really nicely for the first half of the race but he started shifting left from half way down the back and it got more pronounced late on. He never looked like falling over making a mistake on his debut. He fell at the third at the Dublin Racing Festival, clipping the top and not getting the landing gear out in time. He has the ability to be a player but would like to see him jump better.
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“Magic Daze is very lightly raced with just four starts over hurdles and three starts over fences to her name. She was second in last year’s Mares Novice hurdle and gave it a good go from the front that day and I think the old course will suit her far better, as she was outstayed by Tellmesomethingirl that day. She didn’t appear to get home on her chase debut at Galway over 2m 2f, when ran down by Noble Yeats and Gabynako. She bolted up at Cork second time out against the Mares. She was also beaten less than 2l off levels against Concertista in a Grade 2 Mares Chase at Cork, with Jeremy’s Flame splitting them. She hasn’t been seen since, so not sure if all is well with her, but you couldn’t rule her out if she were to line up.
“At this point, Edwardstone is the correct favourite and most likely winner but I don’t think you have to be backing him now. I can’t see him getting any shorter between now and the day of the race.
“This is a race that there could be a bit of a surprise and Haut En Couleurs is one I wouldn’t give up on, while I think that Coeur Sublime, Ciel De Neige and Magic Daze are interesting at big prices.
“If I had to have a bet right now, I probably would take a chance on Haut En Couleurs because he has at least as much natural ability as Edwardstone and Blue Lord but he needs to jump much better.”
*All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widgets, while odds in copy are accurate at time of publishing but subject to change
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