Un De Sceaux will go off a red-hot favourite for the Arkle Challenge Trophy which will be one of the opening day highlights of the 2015 Cheltenham Festival and if the Willie Mullins-trained star can produce his best then he will be very tough to beat in this Grade One event.
He was a fine winner at top class level in Ireland last time out where he beat Clarcam and Gilgamboa and with his front-running style likely to get a lot of his rivals struggling then he could be very tough to beat in what will be the second race on day one of the meeting.
Vibrato Valtat will be one of the premier rivals to the top class jolly and Paul Nicholls' charge will aim to sparkle in this 2m contest, whilst Nicky Henderson's Josses Hill was second in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle last season and will aim to finally find his feet over fences.
Of the others, Clarcam will be aiming to finish closer to Un De Sceaux and has to be respected, whilst the likes of Three Kingdoms and Smashing are just another couple of star performers doing battle in this contest.
8/13 Un De Sceaux
11/2 Vibrato Valtat
9/1 Josses Hill
20/1 Sgt Reckless
20/1 Court Minstrel
25/1 Three Kingdoms
40/1 God's Own
40/1 Dunraven Storm
50/1 Sail By The Sea
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The Arkle Challenge Trophy is a Grade One chase run at the Cheltenham Festival over two miles for horses aged five years or older.
Named after arguably one of the best chasers to ever have graced the national hunt game, Arkle, who amassed three Cheltenham Gold Cup wins during the 1960's, the race sees the leading novice chasers go to post to contest the two-mile contest on the opening day of the Festival.
Having been introduced to replace the Cotswold Chase, the Arkle often sees runners who have contested the Champion Hurdle the following year stepping up to the chasing game and trying their hand at the larger obstacles.
Down the years there have been some top class winners of the race including the mighty Flyingbolt, who won the race in 1965 for trainer Tom Dreaper en route to become one of the greatest racehorses in recent memory.
More recently, Moscow Flyer won the 2002 renewal for trainer Jessica Harrington and jockey Barry Geraghty and used it as a springboard to bigger and better things as he went on to win the Queen Mother Champion Chase on two occasions in 2003 and 2005.
Azertyioup was another who emulated Moscow Flyer's feat by winning the Arkle before returning to the Cheltenham Festival to win the Champion Chase.� Sizing Europe was the last to achieve the coveted double after bagging the 2009 Arkle for trainer Henry De Bromhead and no doubt many more will accomplish two-mile chasing dominance in both the novice and top class ranks.
No doubt certain horses will take to novice chasing from hurdling, whilst some will struggle to make the transition to the larger obstacles, but we will keep on top of the latest form for the two mile contest and closer to the meeting outline the runners.