Since 2012, Sprinter Sacre, Un De Sceaux, Douvan and Altior have all won the Arkle Trophy at Cheltenham with the former and latter horses winning the Queen Mother Champion Chase in later seasons. Moscow Flyer and Remittance Man were other famous winners of this prestigious trophy.
For the 2020 renewal of this 2m novices’ chase, Irish raider Notebook is expected to start as clear favourite at about 5/2. The 7-year-old gelding is unbeaten in four races over fences this season but has claimed victory by no more than five lengths in any of those victories.
The Henry de Bromhead trained horse beat Cash Back by less than a length at the recent Dublin Festival and it may just be that he does enough to win while already battle-hardened in preparation for this expected tough race.
Cash Back will renew rivalry in this contest as will be the case for Fakir d’Oudairies from the Joseph O’Brien yard. Beaten less than two lengths by Notebook back in December, rider Mark Walsh briefly lost an iron near the end of that race which would not have been helpful at that stage. The O’Brien horse had previously won both chases and was a distinguished novice hurdler last term. He is also rated the best of the trainer’s entrants for the Festival and is priced at 5/1.
Among the English challengers, Brewin’upastorm has won two modest events this term but has not raced since mid-November as connections wait for better ground. He was a close fourth in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle last season and then finished second at Aintree.
Esprit Du Large may also be a threat after beating useful horses Nube Negra and Grand Sancy in his latest race at Sandown back in December. That contest was the Grade 1 Henry VIII Novices’ Chase and represented a serious step upwards in class over the larger obstacles.
Another horse to have beaten Nube Negra more recently and more convincingly is Rouge Vif who impressed when scoring at Warwick during early February. He has benefited from wind surgery but finished a narrow second behind Global Citizen back in December with the latter horse well beaten by Brewin’upastorm at Carlisle earlier in the season.
There is also Mister Fisher from the Nicky Henderson stable who will also prefer good to soft conditions rather than the heavy ground of recent weeks. The 6-year-old has won his last two races including a 2m4f contest at Cheltenham.