Cheltenham Festival 2012 

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27 for Racing Post Arkle Chase

The £130,000 Grade One Racing Post Arkle Chase, run over two miles on the opening day of The Festival, Champion Day, Tuesday, March 13, has attracted 27 entries for its 2012 renewal.



In 2011 Captain Chris gave Philip Hobbs and Richard Johnson their first success in the race, storming up the hill to deny Nicky Henderson’s Finian’s Rainbow, with Noel Meade’s Realt Dubh in third. Captain Chris is now on course to run in the 2012 Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup.

This year Philip Hobbs could be represented by Menorah, who is also owned by Diana Whateley. The seven-year-old unseated Richard Johnson on his first start over fences, but has since won twice at Taunton and at Kempton.

Nicky Henderson’s Sprinter Sacre has made a faultless start over fences, winning at Doncaster before running out a hugely impressive winner at Kempton over Christmas in the Grade Two William Hill Novices’ Chase, slamming top-class Peddlers Cross by 16 lengths. He could also be joined by stablemate Kid Cassidy, who won by 31 lengths at Ludlow recently.

There are 11 Irish-trained entries, with four of those coming from the yard of Irish champion trainer Willie Mullins. The Mullins-trained entries are headed by Grade One winner Blackstairmountain, who won the Grade One Racing Post Novice Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas. He could be joined by Limerick Grade Two scorer Sir Des Champs, winner of the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle at The Festival last year, Call The Police who won his only chase start at Gowran Park in November and the six-year-old Bagber.

Also among the Irish-trained entries is Tony Martin’s Bog Warrior, a 31-length winner of the Grade One Drinmore Novices’ Chase in December, but a faller at Leopardstown over Christmas. He could also be joined by stablemate Nearest The Pin, who has been placed in three chase starts to date.

Other notable Irish entries include John Ryan’s Foildubh, who was third to Blackstairmountain over Christmas, and Grade One winning novice hurdler Shot From The Hip, who opened his chasing account at Fairyhouse on January 22. The Irish-trained entries are completed by Tajweed, Baily Green and Lucky William,who won a Grade Three at Punchestown in October.


Paul Nicholls has entered five horses, the most of any trainer. He could saddle Al Ferof, who won the Grade One Henry VIII Novices’ Chase at Sandown in December, top-class French hurdler Cristal Bonus, who won on his first chase start at Chepstow, Escort’men, Pacha Du Polder and Sanctuaire.

The 2010 Weatherby’s Champion Bumper winner Cue Card could bid for a second success at The Festival, after giving weight and a four-length beating to Nick Williams’ For Non Stop at Newbury last time. Williams has also entered 2009 JCB Triumph Hurdle winner Zaynar, successful in a Grade Two at Ascot in December.

Alan King, who won this race in 2005 and 2006 with Voy Por Ustedes and My Way De Solzen, has entered Kumbeshwar, runner-up behind Zaynar at Ascot prior to winning a Plumpton. Paul Webber’s Alasi who fell at Kempton in a race won by Menorah last time, has also been given an entry after two easy victories prior to that tumble.

The entries are completed by Nigel Twiston-Davies’ Astracad, and Realt Dubh’s full-brother Realt Mor, who is trained by Nicky Richards.

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