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The Arkle Chase is wide open after antepost favourite Ferny Hollow was ruled out – and stablemate Haut En Couleurs is one of a number of potential runners that could benefit.
A winner of the Paddy Power Games Beginners Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas, last season’s Triumph Hurdle third was an early faller on his second try over fences in the Irish Arkle earlier this month.
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During a discussion about next month’s Arkle on the latest episode of our Cheltenham Countdown podcast series, the subject of Haut En Couleurs’ jumping was brought up.
Despite the five-year-old’s form figures now containing an F, our resident jockey-turned-pundit Ruby Walsh has no concerns about his ability of fences. You can listen to the show in full BELOW.
“Haut En Couleurs had one run in France for Gabriel Leenders as a juvenile.
“There’s very few long-distance races in France for younger horses, the three and four-year-olds. They’re mainly 2m or 2m 2f and his schooling over French hurdles would have been done over bigger obstacles than ours in Ireland and the UK.
French hurdles are somewhere between the size of an Irish or UK fence and a hurdle and Haut En Couleurs would have schooled these at a higher speed than, for example, ex point-to-pointers who all run over 3m. So as a jockey, I never worried about riding a French hurdler going chasing, because of all that experience they had as young horses schooling in France.
“To me it was almost a plus to be riding ex-French horses in a chase. However, I wasn’t a fan of French chasers because they’re much different obstacles than ours too. They’re hedges, water jumps and the odd bank – so ex-French chasers can get too low at our fences.
“French hurdlers however as a rule of thumb – and I am generalising here – I always looked forward to riding them over fences.
“Haut En Couleurs jumping wouldn’t be a worry for me. I know he fell at the Dublin Racing Festival, but every horse can fall. The ex point-to-point horses have been schooled to race over 3m, so their schooling is much slower. You’re trying to keep horses relaxed over the longer trips and they’re taught to be a little bit safer in their jumping. Therefore, they would need a little bit more schooling to run in 2m races and to be able to jump at speed.
“I wouldn’t be worried about Haut En Couleurs’s jumping.”
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