It's time, dear reader, for us to put on our collective thinking caps (etymology: from 'considering caps', as in "...a considering Cap, almost as large as a Grenadier's, but of three equal Sides; on the first of which was written, I MAY BE WRONG; on the second, IT IS FIFTY TO ONE BUT YOU ARE; and on the third, I'LL CONSIDER OF IT."; 'The History of Little Goody Two-Shoes, 1765).
All three of those possibilities will apply at the end of this piece, when I reveal my likely winner of the Arkle Chase...! So, without much further etymological ado, let's get to the meat of the matter...
Just before we do however, I want to point out that the brains at Nag Nag Nag (the same brains behind the Cheltenham Preview guide you'll have heard about recently) posted an article this time last year, entitled, 'The Arkle: As Easy As This?!', which correctly and confidently nominated a 10/1 shot called Tidal Bay.
Ok, plug over, and let's see if we can't repeat the dose, by reviewing the trends which were reinforced so emphatically last March.
There are 52 entries currently. Time to cut to the (Arkle) chase...
- 10 of the last 11 winners had finished no lower than 2nd in all completed UK chase starts. That eliminates all but sixteen of the entries, which is a fair start.
- 10 of the last 11 winners were aged 5-7 years old (four 5yo's, two 6yo's, and four 7yo's). We can strike out three more, including the fancied Kalahari King, who is eight years young.
- Although sponsored by the Irish Independent, runners from the Emerald Isle have been successful just once in the past eleven runnings, with the other ten winners being UK-based. Just nine left in now (As well as the Irish raiders, I also struck out the interesting Frenchie, Original).
- Nine of the last eleven winners had run between two and four times over fences prior to Arkle glory. Just two fallers at this stat, leaves seven.
- Two final price-based trends to consider: ALL of the last eleven winners were 11/1 or shorter - this is not a race won by outsiders; and, only ONE favourite from eleven has won. Taking these things into account does for likely ante-post jolly, Calgary Bay (though he is challenged for market leadership by Tatenen), as well as Jigsaw Dancer, Palomar, Cornas, and Sa Suffit.
So, there we are: the winner will be one of Tatenen, Calgary Bay, and I'msingingtheblues. The first two named are vying for favouritism, and we know the market leader has a poor record. But usually the market leader is a stronger fancy than this season.
Last season, I wrote:
So we're looking for a 5-7yo, whose not finished lower than 2nd over fences, lightly raced, fancied in the betting but not the 'jolly', and came from the home team.
Step forward, Tidal Bay.
He won at 10/1.
My trumpet suitably tootled, and put away, I'll side with I'msingingtheblues. A winner of three of his four chase starts, his only defeat came at the hands of the classy Briareus (finished fourth in the King George on his only subsequent start). He also has a verdict over Calgary Bay from earlier in the season, when he was spotting the Bay six pounds in weight, and there is no obvious reason why the latter should reverse that running.
Tatenen is more difficult to dismiss than Calgary, as it's harder to crab a horse who's won two from three. Beaten just a short head on the other occasion, he may well have been done up by the slow pace that day, although he was in receipt of nearly a stone from the winner.
At the prices, I make I'msingingtheblues the one to be on.
Of course, I haven't considered pace angles here; or trainer patterns; or any number of other elements which appear in Nag Nag Nag's brilliant Festival Trends publication. If you haven't taken a look at the free sample (full preview of the Triumph Hurdle) already, you absolutely should!
That's all for today - remember the full preview guide is available THIS FRIDAY from midday.