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Rupert Wyman 10th Feb 2009 - 12:43

Cheltenham Festival - The Arkle Chase preview

As the clock counts down to the Cheltenham Festival we will continue to bring you expert previews. Today one of our William Hill radio experts Dave Kelner has taken a look at the betting for the Irish Independent Arkle Chase, read below for his expert analysis.

The Arkle Chase at Cheltenham on the Tuesday of the Festival looks wide open. William Hill go 11/2 the field, with the Paul Nicholls-trained Tatenen heading the market.

Nicholls clearly regards the five-year-old as his chief challenger, however his colours were lowered at Leopardstown on Boxing Day and he has yet to prove himself in a big field.

Cheltenham form is a huge factor and Tatenen has won over course and distance, when routing Straw Bear. That form looked good at the time but has not been franked since and seriously tempers the enthusiasm.

I'msingingtheblues could turn out to be Nicholls' number one. He jumps fluently, is resolute in the heat of battle and has form that ties in with the well-fancied Calgary Bay. He gave that one weight and a beating in a novices' chase at Doncaster early in December and continues to progress.

He returned to the track to post a career-best effort in the valuable Williamhill.com Handicap Chase and must be on the shortlist. The worry with him is whether he will be suited by the undulating track at Cheltenham as, even though he is a winner at the course, all his best form is on a flatter track.

Henrietta Knight will be confident Calgary Bay can reverse the form with I'msingingtheblues. He was having his seasonal reappearance when chasing home the seven-year-old at Doncaster and almost certainly wasn't fully tuned for that run.

Knight knows what it takes to win a Championship race and the recent demise of Denman, only furthers my respect for a trainer who managed to produce Best Mate in tip-top condition for three Gold Cup successes, while having to constantly field questions regarding his racing schedule.

It is well documented that it is important to have an Arkle contender that stays further than two miles and Calgary Bay is proven over 2m5f and, perhaps more importantly, produced a scintillating display of jumping at Prestbury Park on New Year's Day.

Ferdy Murphy is bound to have Kalahari King primed for a big run but the current 10/1 makes little appeal. If the ground is tacky, which is highly likely on the first day of the meeting, he won't be able to use his turn of foot to any great affect and I was not particularly enamoured with his victory over Astarador. His form is solid but not spectacular and others, particularly Calgary Bay and I'msingingtheblues, have produced performances of a higher standard over fences.

Another horse worthy of serious consideration is Planet Of Sound. He was put up by a noted Racing Post tipster and is improving with every run. He jumps well, should stay up the Cheltenham hill, and was good value for his four-length beating of French Opera last time.

On a strict form line through David Pipe's I'm So Lucky, I'msingingtheblues and Planet Of Sound appear closely matched and both horses look the value in the race at 10/1 and 12/1 respectively. Calgary Bay is the obvious alternative.

Irish Independent Arkle Chase betting

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