Although Footpad will be at Cheltenham, he will not defend his Arkle Chase title at this year’s Cheltenham Festival. Instead, Footpad will look to win two races over the course of the festival. First the Champion Chase on Ladies Day and then on St Patrick’s Thursday, the Ryanair Chase.
With Footpad not in the Cheltenham odds for the Arkle Chase, who are the favourites to take the crown this year?
Kalashnikov – 7/1
Currently the joint third favourite to win the race at this year’s Cheltenham Festival, Kalashnikov has started the new season impressively, with two wins and a second place finish in his first three races. The Novices’ Chase at Warwick on 9th November 2018 was his first victory of the new season and saw him finish 11 lengths ahead of season place Hunsman Son. The Irish horse ran as the favourite and managed to avoid embarrassment on his return to the track.
At the Novices’ Chase at Plumpton on 3rd December last year, Kalashnikov was once again running as the favourite and once again finished in first place. This though, he finished with an even more impressive margin of victory, finishing 18 lengths ahead of second place Envoye Special.
The Novices’ Chase at Kempton was his only defeat this season, as he finished 1 ¼ lengths behind Dynamite Dollars despite being the favourite. He is still in good form and is definitely one to watch out for come race day.
Dynamite Dollars – 6/1
As was obvious from his victory over Kalashnikov at Kempton, Dynamite Dollars has the potential to continue his good form from early in the season and secure victory in the second biggest race of the day.On top of victory at Kempton, he has also secured victories in the Winteringham Fields “Menu Surprise” Novices’ Chase at Market Rasen and in the randoxhealth.com Henry VIII Novices’ Chase at Sandown. In each of his three victories he was not down as the favourite to win, upsetting the odds on each occasion.
Dynamite Dollars has already raced at Cheltenham this season, finishing second behind German horse Lalor in the November Novices’ Chase. Both horses finished ahead of the favourite, Claimantakinforgan and Dynamite Dollars will be hoping to secure a second victory over Lalor, having defeated the horse at Sandown shortly after the Cheltenham defeat.
Lalor – 5/1
Victory and defeat against Dynamite Dollars suggests that the Arkle Chase at this year’s Cheltenham Festival will be a very closely fought race. Lalor is the current favourite, but after losing to Dynamite Dollars in the Novices’ Chase at Sandown despite being the favourite, all is not certain for a victory at Cheltenham.
The six-year old German gelding has performed inconsistently in his first two races of the new season, but both trainer Kayley Woollacott and jockey Richard Johnson will know this horse has great potential. Victory at Cheltenham in November 2018 should have more importance placed on it than the defeat at Sandown and with the odds suggesting a close battle between the favourites, a victory under his belt on the course this season could prove to be the difference come race day.