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The absence of Ferny Hollow has blown the Arkle Chase wide open – and leading British novice Edwardstone has picked up the baton at the head of Paddy Power’s Non Runner Money Back betting market.
Alan King’s charge has won his last four starts over fences including the Grade 1 Henry VIII, Grade 2 Wayward Lad and last weekend’s Grade 2 Kingmaker at Warwick but his hurdles form wouldn’t have marked him out as an obvious contender for Cheltenham Festival glory at the start of the season.
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The bulk of Arkle winners over the years including Shishkin, Altior, Douvan and Un de Sceaux have scored over flights at Graded level before landing the leading minimum-distance chase for novices.
The trend was picked up by Paddy’s trader Frank Hickey and tipster Rory Delargy when talk turned to the Arkle and Edwardstone on the latest episode of our Cheltenham Countdown podcast series. You can listen to the show in full BELOW.
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“I think people are knocking Edwardstone because he was a handicap hurdler. He wasn’t really running in Grade 1s, although he wasn’t disgraced when sixth in Shishkin’s Supreme in 2020.
“He was a very consistent handicap hurdler – finishing third in the Betfair Hurdle, fifth in the County Hurdle and third at Aintree over two-and-a-half miles. He finished the season rated 150.
“When you start comparing the hurdle ratings, you realise it’s probably not the strongest Arkle. Obviously some of these are unexposed over hurdles and have the ability to rate higher but Blue Lord was 148, Saint Sam 142, Riviere D’etel 133, Ciel de Neige 139, Haut En Couleurs 146 and Coeur Sublime 150.
“You’re normally looking for a horse rated 145 or more to win an Arkle. Put The Kettle On and Captain Chris would have had low enough hurdle ratings to go on and win the Arkle but it’s not common.”
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“It’s one of those strong trends in the Arkle and one of the easiest novice chases to work out based on hurdle ratings. You’d normally have to hit a high ceiling and have Grade 1 form to be able to win an Arkle.
“Obviously, one or two have bucked the trend like Put The Kettle On but she was priced accordingly. Not too many horses have gone into the Arkle short on the basis of improved chase form and justified that at Cheltenham.”
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