IS Douvan a cert in the Arkle? Graeme Johnston (@GraemeJ_83) previews the second Cheltenham Festival race for us.
Arkle Trophy | 15th March 2016 | Channel 4
One of my favourite races of the season and this looks like a very good renewal. Douvan is now long odds on to win this and he looks like he's a special horse. However, you can't win if you don't jump, but in reality it does look like the only way he loses is if he fails to complete.
Douvan has been favourite for this race ever since it was announced he would be sent chasing and his novice campaign has so far consisted of three flawless victories.
While he hasn't been tested yet over fences his form over hurdles sets him apart from the opposition and to me he looks a real banker. If you haven't backed him already he only really appeals to high stakes punters or people looking for a banker in their accumulator so I'm going to look elsewhere for a selection.
L'Ami Serge is the general second favourite for this and since joining Nicky Henderson he has only lost once, when fourth to Douvan in the Supreme Novice Hurdle last season.
He has looked a natural over jumps so far but is yet to be seriously tested in either of his chase starts. He didn't seem to enjoy Cheltenham last season and he always seems to have a preference for softer ground so I'm taking him on here, although I think under different conditions on another track he is the most likely to trouble Douvan.
Stablemate Vaniteux is next in the betting and after become something of a disappointment over hurdles is starting to show the form he was always thought to be capable of.
His only defeat was to Ar Mad round Kempton and that is probably the strongest form on offer. If Vaniteux is dropped in there is a strong chance he could place, but I'm not convinced his jumping will stand up to this race. He has made a couple of errors so far and though he is talented there will be no hiding place in this race.
His conqueror that day Ar Mad has been the star of the UK novice chase seen this season but I don't think he will line up. His trainer Gary Moore has expressed his doubts about the course and in my opinion he is better waiting for spring targets at Sandown or Aintree where there is likely to be no Douvan.
The one I like here is Sizing John. Okay he was put in his place by Douvan last time but he was poor that day and he never got comfortable in the race.
That day he made the mistake of trying to match Douvan early on and he paid for that. I sense that they will drop him in a bit more in the Arkle and let him find his feet so to speak.
He was third in the Supreme Novice Hurdle behind Douvan last year and I expect Henry De Bromhead to have left plenty to work with before the big spring targets.
He is not likely to turn round the form with Douvan but Betfred offer betting without the favourite and I see value in backing him each way in that market at 10/1.
Arkle Trophy – Sizing John each way without Douvan (10/1 Betfred)
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