The Arkle Challenge Trophy has catapulted many a two-mile novice chaser to superstardom, and this year’s crop of possible Cheltenham Festival contenders all have massive potential.
To win an Arkle, a horse needs to jump well as well as have a turn of foot. There are five runners who could line up at Cheltenham on Tuesday, 12 March 2019 who are all shorter than 20/1 in the current ante post betting, so three months out from the race let’s take a look at their claims.
Mengli Khan must reverse Supreme form with Kalashnikov
The 2019 Arkle market is headed by dual chase winner Kalashnikov, who toughed it out in the mud to land the ultra-competitive Betfair Hurdle at Newbury. Amy Murphy’s charge then chased home Summerville Boy going down by a neck in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the 2018 Cheltenham Festival.
Connections have gone straight over fences with Kalashnikov since and he’s barely put a foot wrong in races at Warwick and Plumpton. The five-year-old needs to test himself at a higher level before the Arkle really, but it’s easy to see why Betway make him 4/1 favourite.
Leading Irish contender Mengli Khan has almost two lengths to find on Kalashnikov from their clash in the Supreme. Gordon Elliott’s Gigginstown House Stud owned gelding has Grade 1 winning hurdles form in the book, however, and is going straight back into that company after landing his chase debut at Punchestown.
With Betfair a best-price 13/2 about Mengli Khan for the Arkle, punters can make money with these Cheltenham betting offers on many Festival races. A win at Leopardstown over Christmas could easily result in his odds being slashed.
Getabird, meanwhile, finished 11th in the Supreme and – as an Irish point-to-point winner – may want further. Irish champion trainer Willie Mullins has campaigned him largely over two miles, however, and he did win his own debut over regulation fences well, so top odds of 12/1 for the Arkle with William Hill cannot be discounted.
Can spring horse Lalor bounce back and prove he’s Dynamite?
Another Arkle contender with Grade 1 success over hurdles is Lalor, who has come alive at Aintree in the last two seasons. He then landed the official Arkle Trial – a Grade 2 contest – at Cheltenham on his return to action and bow over fences, but then couldn’t confirm the form when stepping back up to the highest level for the Henry VIII Novices’ Chase at Sandown.
Dynamite Dollars from Paul Nicholls’ yard has demonstrated he is more adept going right-handed, however. The Arkle is run the other way around and that may explain the large price differential between him and the Kayley Woollacott trained hope.
While Lalor is available at best odds of 8/1 with 888Sport, Dynamite Dollars is nearly double that price at a top quote of 14/1 with BetVictor. Conditions at Sandown were tricky and course form is always a plus at Cheltenham, so it may be a rematch there in the spring when he seems to thrive most could see Lalor back to his best.