Arkle Chase Stats and Trends

Hot on the heels of the opening Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, race two of the Cheltenham Festival sees the first chase contest as the talented novices line up for the Arkle Chase. This event, over the minimum 2m trip, is one of the most anticipated and discussed in the build-up to the March meeting and invariably attracts the best of the best from both sides of the Irish Sea.

Offering £175,000 (2024) in total prize money and named in honour of the greatest chaser of all time, the race has compiled an incredible roll of honour since its Cheltenham Festival debut in 1969. The current century alone features the names of chasing titans Moscow Flyer, Sprinter Sacre, Un de Sceaux, Douvan, Altior, and Shiskin – illustrating the calibre of performer it often takes to prevail.

Many Arkle contenders arrive riding a wave of optimism on the back of impressive performances at the track, but it is here where the class of the challengers faces the ultimate test. What type of horse does it take to land an Arkle? Here, we look back at the 23 editions of the race between 2000 and 2023 (sadly, there was no race in 2001 due to the foot and mouth-forced abandonment) and highlight a selection of trends and stats which may assist in identifying those most likely to prevail.

Age Trends

Arkle Chase Age of Winners

The Arkle is open to horses aged five and older, with Well Chief (2004) and Voy Por Ustedes (2006) being the two winning youngsters in our sample. Moscow Flyer (2008), Sizing Europe (2010), and Edwardstone (2022) came home in front at eight years of age, but no runner older than that has landed the prize since Danish Flight in 1988. Six to seven years of age appears to be the sweet spot, with 18 of 23 winners (78.26%) falling into that bracket.

Trainer Stats

Arkle Chase Top Trainers

There are no real surprises at the top of the trainer’s table. Having to wait until the success of Un de Sceaux in 2015 for his first victory, Cheltenham specialist Willie Mullins then rattled in another four winners in rapid succession. However, Nicky Henderson is still the most successful trainer in the history of the race, with the triumphs of Remittance Man (1991) and Travado (1993) taking the Lambourn maestro’s total to seven.

The 2000-2023 period proved to be a game of two halves in the Britain vs Ireland battle – the home team winning 11 of 14 renewals between 2000 and 2014, but the Irish bouncing back with six wins between 2015 and 2023.

Finishing Position Last Time Out

Arkle Chase Finishing Position Last Time Out

A solid last-time-out effort isn’t a prerequisite for success in all Cheltenham Festival contests, but it looks to be a significant positive here. An impressive 19 of 23 winners (82.61%) had also won on their most recent racecourse appearance, whilst 22 of 23 (95.65%) had at least finished in the first three. The one horse who doesn’t fit this trend is the great Moscow Flyer (2002), who fell in the Grade 1 Novice Chase at the Leopardstown Christmas Meeting before bouncing back to win this in a four-length canter.

Previous Starts Over Fences

Arkle Chase Previous Chase Starts

As a novice event, the Arkle is never likely to attract runners with a vast number of chase outings under their belts. However, the stats would suggest that at least some experience is a benefit. Only the Martin and David Pipe duo of Well Chief (2004) and Western Warhorse (2014) managed to bag this Grade 1 on their second chase outing, with Alan King’s Edwardstone (2022) being the main outlier at the other end of the scale. Overall, a preparation involving three or four outings over fences has been the most common route to success, with 14 of 23 winners (60.87%) falling into that category.

Class to the Fore

Arkle Chase Highest Grade of Previous Wins

When seeking the most likely winner, the results over the period analysed suggest we should focus our attention on those who have previously proven to be up to scoring in Graded company. 12 of 23 (52.17%) were already Grade 1 winners, whilst 20 of 23 (86.96%) had won at Grade 2 level or above. The biggest improver over this period was, once again, Western Warhorse, who took the step up from a Class 3 victory on debut to shock the big guns a decade ago in 2014.

Fate of the Favourite

The Arkle Chase was no friend of favourite backers in the first part of the 21st century, with the market leader winning only once between 2000 and 2011. However, there was a significant rebound, with nine jollys doing the business between 2012 and 2023. Those placing a £1 level stakes bet on the favourite over this 2000-2023 period would have suffered a loss of £4.44. That poor result stems from the fact that seven of the 10 winning favourites returned an odds-on SP, including 1/4 shots Douvan (2016) and Altior (2017)

Overall, 21 of 23 winners returned a single-figure SP, with the two shock results coming courtesy of 16/1 chance, Put The Kettle On (2020), and Western Warhorse, yet again, who was an overlooked 33/1 shot in 2014.

Other Stats

  • 12 of 23 winners had previously won at Cheltenham.
  • The now-retired Barry Geraghty and Ruby Walsh are the most successful riders over this period, with four wins apiece. Of those jockeys who remain active in 2024, Paul Townend and Nico de Boinville have fared best with two wins each thus far.
  • Only one of 23 winners arrived following a break of 100 days or more. 18 of 23 had run within the previous two months.
  • The Irish Arkle has proven to be the most informative trial, with five winners arriving on the back of a run in the Leopardstown event. The Game Spirit Chase, Kingmaker Novices’ Chase, and Lightning Novices’ Chase have fared best of the British races in providing two winners apiece.
  • Moscow Society is the only sire responsible for more than one winner over this period – Moscow Flyer (2002) and Forepadydeplasterer (2009).