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Cheltenham Festival Arkle Trophy racing tip: Il Etait Temps to give stablemate a run for his money

Named after the legendary three-time winner of the Gold Cup in the sixties, the Arkle Trophy is the season’s pinnacle event for National Hunt’s top chasers over the minimum two-mile distance.

14:10 - My Pension Expert Arkle Challenge Trophy Novices’ Chase (2 miles) 

Once again Willie Mullins and Paul Townend team up to carry strong Irish hopes, albeit with  the German-bred Gaelic Warrior who spent his early career racing in France.

A short-head second behind Brazil in the 2022 Boodles Juvenile, and then a well-beaten runner-up in last year’s Ballymore (now the Gallagher Novices’ Hurdle), this six-year will sport a first-time hood as he looks to bounce back from an uncharacteristic blip at Leopardstown a month ago, when he unseated at the last when already well beaten.

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There are plenty of other capable chasers looking to exploit any chink in the favourite’s armour, and while the likes of Hunters Yarn, Found A Fifty and 2021 Triumph Hurdle winner Quilixios all hold serious claims, our final nod goes to another Mullins runner in the shape of Il Etait Temps.

Having kicked off his campaign by leaving nine rivals comfortably in his wake on chase debut at Thurles, he was left behind by the current Arkle favourite in a five-runner affair at Limerick just after Christmas, but both horses’ form have followed different paths since then.

While Gaelic Warrior suffered that dip in form, Il Etait Temps was producing a battling performance in the Irish Arkle at Leopardstown, finding plenty close to home to hold off the challenge of the reopposing Found A Fifty, with the not-insignificant names of Facile Vega and Marine Nationale a further three and ten lengths behind respectively.

Townend might get first choice of his trainer’s runners, but Danny Mullins is no mug in the saddle either, and he will climb aboard Il Etait Temps having guided 118 of this season’s 350 rides into the frame, including two wins and a runner-up from his six completed rides so far this month.

Suggested bet: Il Etais Temps in the 14:10 at Cheltenham


Arkle Challenge Trophy key stats

Top 3 trainers (last 20 years)

  • Willie Mullins - 22 runners, 5 winners, 3 places
  • Nicky Henderson - 15 runners, 4 winners, 5 places
  • Alan King - 7 runners, 3 winners

Top 3 jockeys (last 20 years)

  • Paul Townend - 8 rides, 2 winners, 1 place
  • Nico De Boinville - 4 rides, 2 winners, 1 place
  • Aidan Coleman - 6 rides, 1 winner, 1 place

Past 5 winners of the Arkle Challenge Trophy:

  • 2019 Dus Des Genievres 5/1
  • 2020 Put The Kettle On 16/1 
  • 2021 Shishkin 4/9F 
  • 2022 Edwardstone 5/2F 
  • 2023 El Fabiolo 11/10F 

Britain v Ireland

  • Ireland - 8 winners, 14 places from 77 runners
  • Britain - 12 winners, 19 places from 133 runners

READ MORE: Cheltenham Festival Guide 2024: all you need to know on the big races, horses, jockeys and trainers

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