The Arkle Challenge Trophy is a Grade 1 chase for novices aged five years and above. It is run on the old course at Cheltenham over a distance of two miles, during which there are twelve fences to be jumped.

It is the leading minimum-distance chase for novices in the National Hunt calendar, and currently follows the Supreme Novices Hurdle of being the second race on Day 1 of the Cheltenham Festival.

The formbook is usually a good guide when deciding how this race will pan out, with shocks very few and far between. The fields for this tend to be smaller than majority of races at the Cheltenham Festival, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in quality.

The race itself is a real test for novices who have to travel faster and jump quicker than they have ever jumped before in novice chase runs elsewhere in their debut season. After such a stern examination of their abilities, it is no surprise to see that winners of this race almost invariably go on to take top rank against amongst the countries’ leading two mile chasers.

Moscow Flyer, Azertyuiop, Flagship Uberalles and Voy Por Ustedes are horses who have gone on from winning this race in recent years to win a subsequent renewal of the Queen Mother Champion Chase; a more recent example of this is Sizing Europe who completed the feat in 2011.

The race also has proven to be a stepping stone to future success in the Gold Cup. Both Kicking King (2005) and War Of Attrition (2006) Gold Cup winners had run in this race the previous year, and Best Mate would  have too had the meeting not been abandoned due to the foot and mouth outbreak.

The 2012 renewal brought forth a real superstar in the shape of Sprinter Sacre who pulverised his opposition in an imperious display of fencing, signalling he is one of the smartest chasers seen for many years. Nicky Henderson went on to win the race again in 2013 with Simonsig.

History:

The Arkle Challenge Trophy was introduced as a replacement for the Cotswold Chase, a previous event at the Cheltenham Festival, in 1969. Its title pays tribute to Arkle, a three-time winner of the Cheltenham Gold Cup in the mid 1960s. The race was formerly scheduled to be run on the second day of the Festival, but it was switched to its current slot on the opening day in 1980.

The first sponsor of the ‘Arkle’ was Waterford Castle, which began supporting the event in 1991. It was backed by Guinness from 1994 to 1999, and since then it had been sponsored by the Irish Independent newspaper, until the Racing Post took over sponsorship of the race in 2012.

Race Previews:

Arkle Challenge Trophy 2016 - Douvan strides on.
Douvan powers to an imperious success in the 2016 Arkle Chase.

Previous Winners:

YearHorseAgeTrainerOdds
2016Douvan6W Mullins1-4F
2015Un De Sceaux7W Mullins4-6F
2014Western Warhorse6D Pipe33-1
2013Simonsig7N Henderson8-15F
2012Sprinter Sacre6N Henderson8-11F
2011Captain Chris7P Hobbs6-1
2010Sizing Europe8H De Bromhead6-1
2009Forpadydeplasterer7T Cooper8-1
2008Tidal Bay7J Howard Johnson6-1
2007My Way de Solzen7A King7-2
2006Voy Por Ustedes5A King15-2
2005Contraband7M C Pipe7-1
2004Well Chief5M C Pipe9-1
2003Azertyuiop6P F Nicholls5-4F
2002Moscow Flyer8Mrs J Harrington11-2
2000Tiutchev7N J Henderson8/1