The Arkle Chase is a Grade 1 National Hunt Steeplechase run on the Old Course.
The Arkle Chase Trophy is a Grade 1 National Hunt Steeplechase run on Champion Day, the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival. It is run on the Old Course at Cheltenham over a distance of 2 miles (3,219 metres) with 13 fences to be jumped. It will take place on Tuesday 15th March 2022 | Time 13:55
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The Arkle Challenge
The Arkle Chase or the Arkle Challenge Trophy as its also known is a Grade 1 race for horses aged five or older. It is a two mile race that was first introduced in 1969. The race came in to replace the Cotswold Chase, a previous race that used to be run at the Cheltenham Festival.
The race, which has 13 fences in it, was run on the second day of the Cheltenham Festival up until 1980. After that, it was moved to the opening day where it has stayed since. It has always been run on the Old Course at Cheltenham.
The first-ever winner was Bright Penny for trainer Bobby Norris.
Connections tend to use the Arkle as a stepping stone to the Queen Mother Champion Chase. They include Simonsig, Sprinter Sacre, and Altior.
The Racing Post sponsored the race from 2012 to 2020. However, from 2021 Sporting Life took over as the main sponsor.
When the race became the Arkle in 1969 it was won by Chatham who went off at odds of 10/1. The prize for the winning horse back then was £1,365!
In 1991, when Nicky Henderson had his first winner in the then Waterford Castle Arkle Challenge, the prize money was £42,927. The horse was Remittance Man.
By 2012, when the legendary horse Sprint Sacre won the Racing Post Arkle Challenge, the prize money won was £74,000.
The purse for the Arkle Challenge Trophy at the 2019 festival was £175,000 from which £103,134 went to the winner’s connections. The winner was Duc Des Genievres, trained by Willie Mullins giving him his fourth win in the race.
However, in 2021 the prize money reduced due to racing being held behind closed doors. The total purse was worth £131,250 with the winner, Shishkin earning £73,854 for connections, including trainer Nicky Henderson.
The Arkle Chase is a stepping stone for horses to go on to win bigger and better races. Many big named horses have featured in this race and won it.
Sprinter Sacre won the Racing Post Arkle Challenge in 2012. He then went on to win the Queen Mother Champion Chase in both 2013 and 2016. Sprinter Sacre is the third-highest ever Timeform rated horse with a rating on 192.
Douvan was another famous horse that won the Arkle Chase. He had won the Supreme Novices in 2015 and then went on to win the Arkle in 2016. The Arkle win was one of 13 races that Douvan won in a row. However, he couldn’t match the feat of Sprinter Sacre and was eventually beaten in the Queen Mother in 2017.
Altior is another big winner of the Arkle Chase. He won the race in 2017 and went on to win the Queen Mother Champion Chase twice, beating Min by seven lengths in 2018 and then Politologue in 2019 by 1.75 lengths.
Altior’s unbeaten run, which saw him win 19 consecutive races between October 2015 and April 2019, finally came to an end on 23rd November 2019 when he was beaten into second place by Cyrname in the Christy 1965 Chase at Ascot. To date, he has amassed earnings in excess of £1.2 million.
In keeping with tradition, Put the Kettle On won the Arkle in 2020 and went on to win the Queen Mother Champion Chase in 2021. In doing so she became the first mare to ever win the Champion Chase.
ARKLE CHASE RECORDS
Horses who win the Arkle Chase do not return to defend their title. Instead, they go on to other bigger races at the Cheltenham Festival. For that reason, there haven’t been any multiple winners of the race.
The leading jockeys in the Arkle Chase are Barry Geraghty and Ruby Walsh. Both jockeys have won the race four times in their careers. Geraghty won his first Arkle on Moscow Flyer in 2002 and his last was Simonsig in 2013. Walsh’s first win came on Azertyuiop in 2003. He also rode Un De Sceaux (2015), Douvan (2016), and his final win was on Footpad in 2018.
Nicky Henderson is the leading trainer in the Arkle. He has won the race seven times, over 30 years. The first win was in 1991 with Remittance Man. Since then his big winners have been Sprinter Sacre and Altior. He added another win with Shishkin in 2021.
Willie Mullins is another leading trainer at Cheltenham. He has four wins in the Arkle, all of which have come since 2015. He is going to need to do a lot though to beat the record of seven.
Seven horses since the year 2000 have gone on to win the double. The double being winning the Arkle Chase and then the Queen Mother Champion Chase the year after. The horses were Moscow Flyer (2002/03), Azertyuiop (2003/04), Voy Por Ustedes (2006/07), Sizing Europe (2010/11), Sprinter Sacre (2012/13), Altior (2017/18), and Put the Kettle On (2020/21).
Jockey Jamie Osborne holds the record for the most consecutive wins. He won the Arkle for three consecutive years in 1992-1994. All three of his wins were for different trainers.
The Arkle Challenge Course
The Arkle Challenge Trophy replaced the Cotswold Chase in 1969 in honour of Arkle, a three-time winner of the Cheltenham Gold Cup. It was formerly run on the second day of the Festival but was switched to opening day in 1980 and is the second race run on the schedule. Open only to novice chasers, in its first year, the race was worth £1,365 but by 2020 that had risen significantly to £175K.
Recent Arkle Chase winners have gone into the race on the back of impressive seasons, including 2015 winner Un De Sceaux, and as such surprise winners are few and far between. Barry Geraghty is the Arkle’s most successful winning jockey with victories on board Moscow Flyer (2002), Forpadydeplasterer (2009), Sprinter Sacre (2012) and Simonsig (2013).
The Arkle Chase is run over a distance of 2 miles (3,219 metres)
During its running there are thirteen fences to be jumped.
The Arkle often features horses which go on to run and win the Queen Mother Champion Chase.
Its roll of honour includes Moscow Flyer, Tidal Bay, Sizing Europe, Sprinter Sacre and Simonsig.
The Arkle Challenge Trophy as of 2021 offered a total prize fund of £131,250.
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