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Arkle Preview: Footpad The Horse To Beat But Walsh And Henderson Will Have A Say

Should Getabird oblige for favourite-backers in the curtain raiser, it is likely that the fate of many, day one accumulators will rest at the feet of the Footpad in the Arkle Trophy.

The Mullins inmate is a short price favourite for the race which boasts an illustrious list of past winners including Altior, Douvan, Simonsig the supremely talented Sprinter Sacre.

Since finishing fourth behind Buveur d’Air in the Champion Hurdle on good/soft ground at the Festival last term, Footpad has run on four occasions.

Three of those were in the chasing sphere, all of which ended in victory for the Sadler’s Well offspring. On two of those occasions, the ground came up soft and soft/heavy respectively which would suggest the softening ground shouldn’t be an issue on Tuesday.

His first victory over the larger obstacles came at Navan in November where he made all to fend off his five rivals with consummate under Daryl Jacob on ground that was soft/heavy (heavy in places).

The eventual winning margin that day was eleven lengths, as had been the case when he saw off the challenge of Any Second Now to claim a valuable Grade 1 at Leopardstown in December.

The Ted Walsh trained Any Second Now is set to line up in the Close Brothers Handicap Chase on Tuesday with what looks like a live chance having placed in three of his four starts over fences.

When one considers that he finishing second to Monalee at Punchestown in November and the aforementioned Footpad on two separate occasions since then, there can be few complaints as to the company he is keeping.

Petit Mouchoir is currently the second favourite in the Arkle betting and is no stranger to Willie Mullins having spent much of his career under his guise prior to relocating to Waterford handler Henry de Bromhead’s Knockeen base.

In their hurdling days, it was, in fact, Petit Mouchoir who had the upper hand between the pair yet he could only get within five lengths of his rival when they met over fences for the first time in February.

That said, the Gigginstown raider was coming off the back of a 108-day layoff and is entitled to come on for the run. However, in a race that is likely to be run at a rapid pace, question marks may still linger over his jumping ability when put under pressure by Footpad who since switching to chasing has tended to lead from the front.

While much focus has been on the two Irish raiders, perhaps the Harry Whittingham trained Saint Calvados is slipping into the Arkle picture somewhat under the radar.

The five-year-old barely broke a sweat in winning a Grade 2 at Warwick last time out, beating the Paul Nicholls trained Diego Du Charmil by 22 lengths.

As the Arkle’s role of honour would suggest, Nicky Henderson has a very strong record in the race, leading the way with six victories and the Seven Barrows based handler will send Brain Power to post for the 2018 renewal. However, he has fallen and unseated his rider on his last two starts.

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Author: The PA Team

This article was written by a member of The PA Team.