The Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy

The Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy is the second race of the Cheltenham Festival Day 1. A National Hunt steeplechase run on the Old Course, this race is the foremost novice minimum distance chase on the seasonal calendar.

It is open to five-year-old horses and above and run over a distance of around two miles.

Arkle Challenge Trophy

The Arkle Challenge Trophy was introduced in order to pay tribute to the legendary Irish thoroughbred racehorse Arkle.

Arkle famously won the prestigious and challenging Cheltenham Gold Cup on three consecutive years from 1964-1966; in honour of his achievements, the former Cotswold Chase was renamed the Arkle Challenge Trophy.

Until 1980 the race took place on the second day of the Cheltenham Festival, moving in that year to its current slot as race two on Day One.

There have been four sponsors of the Arkle Challenge Trophy, the first being Waterford Castle from 1991 until 1993. Guinness sponsored the race from 1994 until 1999, followed by the Irish Independent newspaper from 2000 until 2011. Current sponsors the Racing Post took over in 2012.

There have been several winners of the Arkle that have later gone on to win the Queen Mother Champion Steeple Chase, the most prestigious two-mile steeplechase on the calendar. These include Sprinter Sacre, who took home the Queen Mother in 2013.

Footpad is the hot favourite for the 2018 Arkle Chase. The Willie Mullins-trained star won the Irish Arkle at the Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown this year.

His nearest challenger that day – Petit Mouchoir – is the second favourite for the Cheltenham renewal.

The Course

The Arkle Challenge Trophy takes place over what is known at Cheltenham as the Old Course.

Thought of as slightly easier than the New Course due to being a little shorter, the Old Course is nonetheless challenging for horse and jockey alike. Open ditches and a water jump combine with an undulating course structure to create unique challenges requiring a fine balance of pace and stamina.

There are thirteen fences that must be jumped during the two-mile duration of the Arkle Challenge Trophy. Making all races at Cheltenham particularly challenging is the undulations in the turf and the fact that all courses feature relatively steep inclines and declines at various points.

Arkle Challenge Trophy Trends

  • Five of the last six winners have been the odds-on favourite.
  • The top jockey in terms of this particular event is Barry Geraghty, with four wins.
  • Nicky Henderson is the most successful trainer with six winners.
  • Eight of the last 27 winners have gone on to win the following season’s Champion Chase.
  • Willie Mullins has trained two of the last three winners.
  • Six-year-olds and seven-year-olds are the most successful horses in this race.

This novice race helps get the Cheltenham Festival started, making Day One a thrilling and challenging day for newcomers to the world of competitive horse racing. If you’re after a really exciting flutter, this is the race for you.

Recent Winners

Over the last 10 years, the Arkle Challenge Trophy has been dominated by trainers Nicky Henderson and Willie Mullins, who have won five of the last 10 renewals.

Of the jockeys, Barry Geraghty has three victories, with Ruby Walsh with two. The last ten winners are as follows:

  • 2008: Tidal Bay – Denis O’Regan
  • 2009: Forpadydeplaster – Barry Geraghty
  • 2010: Sizing Europe – Andrew Lynch
  • 2011: Captain Chris – Richard Johnson
  • 2012: Sprinter Sacre – Barry Geraghty
  • 2013: Simonsig – Barry Geraghty
  • 2014: Western Warhorse – Tom Scudamore
  • 2015: Un De Sceaux – Ruby Walsh
  • 2016: Douvan – Ruby Walsh
  • 2017: Altior – Nico de Boinville

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