Gilgamboa A Natural Selection For Arkle Novice Chase
Sunday could see plenty of action in the ante-post markets with several Cheltenham Festival prospects putting their claims on the line, including Un De Sceaux, who goes for the Grade 1 Arkle Novice Chase (1.40pm).
Un De Sceaux
Willie Mullins’ 7yo will be at the forefront of punters’ minds for the Arkle Chase in March, where he currently heads the betting at 5/2, and will need to land odds of 8/11 at the weekend if justifying his lofty position at the festival.
A dual Grade 2 winner over hurdles, Un De Sceaux, made up for a disappointing debut over fences in November (fell), by landing a beginners chase at Fairyhouse last month (2m, soft). Once again, however, Un De Sceaux made an error at the first fence, and the jury remains out as to how his jumping will fare when under pressure from classier rivals, which he’ll face on Sunday.
One of those rivals could be fellow 7yo, Gilgamboa (11/4), who already knows what it takes to score in Graded company, having destroyed the field by 24l at Limerick on Boxing Day to win a Grade 2 by 24l (2m4f, soft). Quick over his fences, Gilgamboa looks a natural chaser through and through, and remains a very exciting horse for the future.
While the future remains good for Enda Bolger’s runner, he should also be taken seriously for Sunday, let alone Cheltenham where he remains a 12/1 shot for the Arkle. Gilgamboa has to rate the value should he line-up at Leopardstown, and may have been a lot shorter than 11/4 had he hailed from one of the more fashionable stables.
Gilgamboa is also a 7yo, an age-group that have dominated this race down the years…
Of the last 10 Arkle Novice Chase winners…
9 were 7yo’s (32%) – others were 1-34
8 won last time out
W Mullins won it twice
Noel Meade’s, Apache Stronghold, is another 7yo who could be making a bid for the €48,000 first prize, and he has twice finished runner-up in Grade 1 events of late. The second of those was a 2l defeat to the classy, Don Poli, over this C&D at Christmas, and his odds of 12/1 certainly don’t do a chaser with such proven talent any justice – remember, Un De Sceaux has yet face a Graded rival in two outings over fences.
One who holds a more realistic chance of victory on Sunday, according to that betting anyway, is Gordon Elliott’s, Clarcam (9/2).
This 5yo is already 2-3 over fences, and arrives having dished out a 17l beating to Ted Veale in the Grade 1 Racing Post Novice Chase over 2m1f here on Boxing Day (soft). Efficient over his fences that day, he oozes class, and is another who has proven form at the highest level, yet is available at 9/2 at the weekend.
It’s amazing to think that Willie Mullins’, Un De Sceaux, could go off at odds-on without having faced a chaser in Graded company – unlike most of Sunday’s rivals. Un De Sceaux may be the real deal, but until he puts in an error-free round, the value this weekend has to be Gilgamboa, who is an unbeaten 7yo with a good profile for this race.