The Arkle has a strong favourite in the shape of Sprinter Sacre following his defeat of Pedders Cross in the Wayward Lad Novices Chase on 27 December at Kempton Park. I was there to witness a very impressive performance; he jumped neatly and fluently and burnt off Peddlers Cross in the back straight coming clear to win by 16 lengths. However, I’m convinced that the Arkle at Cheltenham will suit Pedders much more and perhaps won’t be to Sprinter Sacre’s liking.
In last year’s Supreme Novices he certainly appeared to struggle to get up the hill behind Al Ferof which is no surprise given this horse is all about speed. Flat tracks like Kempton are his natural hunting ground. On the other hand Peddlers Cross is all about stamina, probably didn’t enjoy running right handed and is a proven Cheltenham horse. He won the Neptune as a hurdler in 2010 before coming a very honourable second to Hurricane Fly in last year’s Champion Hurdle. I’d be surprised if Peddlers doesn’t finish in front of Sprinter Sacre in the second race on the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival 2012.
As I mentioned to @cathrynfry after the Wayward Lad Peddlers just didn’t look himself that day. After clouting the first he just didn’t travel and his jumping wasn’t anywhere near as fluent as it had been. Connections were somewhat disheartened at the time and suggested he might go up in trip and bypass the Arkle. However, since then muscle problems have come to light and the Arkle is once again on the agenda.
It’s hard to see beyond the top two in the market and the race lacks strength in depth. Menorah didn’t impress me as a likely winner at Kempton Park today. It’s interesting to note that Hills have pushed him out to 16/1. Al Ferof may be diverted to the Champion Chase. For a real outsider I quite like For Non Stop but Peddlers is the one to beat.
He’s been well backed in the last couple of days so take the standout 6/1 with Ladbrokes before they go 11/2.
1pt ew Peddlers Cross in the Arkle Challenge Trophy Chase – 6/1 Ladbrokes