Footpad Not in the Same League as Altior, Douvan
Which brings us to this year’s ante-post favourite, Footpad. Willie Mullins’ six-year-old is leading the way in the current odds at 6/4 with various bookmakers. Footpad had a decent, if somewhat mixed, career over hurdles before switching to chasing at the start of this season. Two wins from two (Racing Post Novice Chase and Irish Stallion Farms Chase) have happened since that change. Both wins came over a distance of 11 lengths. While those runs were reasonably impressive, the field was not of the highest quality in either race. Death Duty was probably the biggest player in the Racing Post Novice Chase, but fell after showing some early promise. Footpad has yet to face a worthy opponent.
If you read the latest Cheltenham 2018 betting tips, you will see that several big races could be open this year, allowing for punters to get some value. The Arkle should be treated no differently. The table below shows some of the other players in the ante-post betting markets for this year’s Arkle:
What You Should Note:
Like Footpad, has been excellent since being switched from hurdles to chasing. Beat the fancied Finian’s Oscar by 50L in the Henry VIII Novices’ Chase at Sandown in December.
Another runner who has switched from hurdling. Petit Mouchoir was 3rd in last year’s Champion Hurdle. Made a big statement in his chasing debut at Punchestown.
Record in chasing reads as one win and one unseated rider. Punters will need to see at least one more good performance (see below) before parting with big money.
North Hill Harvey
Three wins from the last four at Cheltenham suggests North Hill Harvey could be a value bet. Has a preference for soft ground however, so the weather could have a big impact.
*Odds taken from Ladbrokes on 19/01/2018.
** Runs in the upcoming Clarence House Chase. A win could see odds cut for the Arkle Chase.
Time Could Be Ripe for Another Big Price Winner in the Arkle
It is not inconceivable that Footpad continues the run of favourites winning the Arkle, but the value is certainly available elsewhere. The point is: punters knew that Altior was going to romp home last year; they knew Douvan would win with room to spare in 2016. Can the same be said for Footpad? Any one of the four horses mentioned above could challenge Footpad, and few would be shocked to see any of them in the Winners’ Enclosure.
There is every chance that the Arkle could turn out to be one of the value races of the Festival. The markets and movers are certainly worth keeping an eye on over the next few weeks.