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2015 Arkle Trophy tips - Paul Nicholls' Vibrato Valtat to burst Un De Sceaux Cheltenham bubble

  • Paul Nicholls can land another Arkle with Vibrato Valtat.
Vibrato Valtat can burst the Un De Sceaux bubble by winning the Arkle on day one of the Cheltenham Festival.

Tipster Brian Healy previews Tuesday's Grade One Arkle Challenge Trophy where Un De Sceaux bids to enhance his fearsome reputation as a Festival banker.


The dust will barely have settled on the preceding Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, and it will be time for the Arkle contenders to go to post.

The Arkle Challenge Trophy, due off at 2.05pm as the day’s second race features the best two mile novice chasers, and can be a strong pointer to the Champion Chase in subsequent years. Past winners of the Arkle who have gone on to Champion Chase success include  Sprinter Sacre, Sizing Europe, Azertyuiop, and Moscow Flyer.

Meanwhile, Simonsig, Captain Chris, Tidal Bay, Voy Por Ustedes and Well Chief are among the notable names who have the Arkle on their CV.

As with the preceding Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, Willie Mullins sends out the strong ante-post favourite, Un De Sceaux (4/6, Coral), for the race and the high-class hurdler has quickly reached a similar form over fences.

Unbeaten in all bar one of his starts when falling while clear at Gowran Park, he has since registered successes at Fairyhouse where he had Smashing (25/1, Paddy  Power) – a subsequent winner - well behind in second, and then when landing the Irish Arkle where he easily brushed aside Clarcam.


Un De Sceaux is many peoples' idea of a Festival banker.

He is many peoples’ idea of a Festival banker, and it isn’t hard to see why as the bold front-runner has pulverised everything set against him from the front; however, he’s quite a nervy sort, and the big-race build-up could well just set him on edge and he could boil over. He can occasionally get quite low over his fences also, which isn’t ideal around Cheltenham’s fearsome fences.

Plus, he’s never been taken on for the lead before, always racing at the head of affairs, and it remains to be seen how he’ll react to possibly being taken on for the lead by Dunraven Storm who could well vy for the front-running role with Willie Mullins’ gelding.

At the prices, he is worth taking on, and Paul Nicholls’ VIBRATO VALTAT (11/2, Bet365) could be the one to capitalise on the favourite’s short-comings.

The Voix Du Nord gelding had garnered something of a reputation over hurdles, often failing to see out his races and giving the impression he was holding something back. 

However, there’s been no such quirk since sent chasing, and he has won four of his five starts over the larger obstacles with his only defeat coming behind Dunraven Storm here last November.

Vibrato Valtat
Vibrato Valtat should have the race to suit, and his turn of foot could prove decisive.

That form was reversed next time in the Henry VIII at Sandown, and he progressed again to score cheekily at Kempton next time before registering an impressive success at Warwick in the Kingmaker Chase.

While the strong-travelling gelding faces his toughest opponent yet, the race will be run to suit and he’ll get a nice tow into the race. His potent turn of foot could well see him picking off Willie Mullins’ charge up the hill, and he looks nailed on for a place at least.

Dunraven Storm (50/1, Bet365) is likely to try and take Un De Sceaux for the lead and Philip Hobbs’ smart chaser was last seen running third behind Ptit Zig and Josses Hill at Ascot in December.

It is possible that race came just too soon for the Presenting gelding, and he’s been given a break since. Although entitled to give it a good shot, he is likely to find a couple of these too strong.

Last season’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle runner-up, Josses Hill (11/1, William Hill) hasn’t fully convinced over fences despite running to a similar level of form as his hurdles career.

Nicky Henderson knows how to win an Arkle, but jumping frailtes in the Winged Love gelding have been evident when turned over at odds-on at Ascot behind Ptit Zig, and again when runner-up behind Third Intention at Kempton either side of a workmanlike victory over Solar Impulse at Doncaster.

A faster pace may help sharpen his jumping, but he will have to improve in that department if he’s to get competitive.


Josses Hill will have to jump better than he's been doing in his races to date if he's to land an Arkle.

Clarcam (14/1, Bet365) was soundly beaten by Un De Sceaux in the Irish Arkle, but may be suited by the bigger field and is perhaps best judged on his defeat of Vautour over the Festive period.

Still only five, he is open to plenty of improvement, but he’ll need to take a sizeable forward step if he’s to reverse form with Willie Mullins’ charge; however, he could go well and place money certainly not out of the question.

God’s Own (40/1, Ladbrokes) is a smart chaser when he consents to give maximum effort, as he did when landing the Haldon Gold Cup earlier in the season. However, he’s looked moody in two starts since, downing tools quickly in the Tingle Creek before running third behind Vibrato Valtat at Kempton.

A Grade One winner last term at the Punchestown Festival, he’s been freshened up since his Kempton run and goes well fresh so no surprise to see an improved effort, although likely he holds place claims at best.


God's Own hasn't shown his best in two recent runs.

Court Minstrel (25/1, Coral) may have found testing ground against him when failing to beat a rival home last time in the Henry VIII Chase behind Vibrato Valtat, and is perhaps best judged on earlier successes at Cheltenham and Newton Abbot where he posted back-to-back wins.

Clearly highly regarded given he was elevated to Grade One status, he’s been given a breather, and is one of only two course and distance winners in the field. Evan Williams’ charge can leave that Sandown effort behind, although others have stronger claims.

David Pipe won this race twelve months ago with 33/1 outsider Western Warhorse, and the trainer bids to do it again with Sail By The Sea (50/1, Ladbrokes) who has won two of his last three starts and is lightly raced.

He’s had just two chase starts to date, finishing third to Grumeti at Plumpton and then winning in the mud at Chepstow, beating All But Grey by some ten lengths.

While he represents last year’s winning connections, he surely isn’t good enough to win this on what he has shown, while the quicker ground is an unknown.

Sgt Reckless (20/1, Paddy Power) was a smart hurdler, and he made a winning start to his chase career with a facile success at Uttoxeter. That is is only sttart to date over fences though, and while he can improve, this is probably a step too far at this stage with inexperience likely to count against him.

Three Kingdoms (20/1, Bet365) was progressive over timber last term, but has quicky shaped as if he’ll be even better over fences.

John Ferguson doesn’t have too many chasers, and the Street Cry gelding was narrowly beaten by Vibrato Valtat at Kempton, although was perhaps flattered by his proximity to Paul Nicholls horse.

He built on that run to edge out Solar Impulse at Doncaster next time under a strong AP McCoy ride, and is another who should continue to improve although likely to come up short here.

VERDICT

All the talk for the Arkle has centred around Un De Sceaux, and he is many people’s idea of a Festival banker. However, for all he’s been impressive in winning both completed starts over fences, the highly strung gelding could find himself boiling over in the white-hot atmosphere, and given his over-exuberant style of racing, he could go off too hard here especially with Dunraven Storm likely to try and wrestle the lead from him.

The likely searching pace will play to the strengths of the strong-travelling VIBRATO VALTAT (11/2, Bet365) who can get a nice tow off the leading duo and with pace to burn at the finish, he can swoop to conquer and give Paul Nicholls another Arkle success.

The Voix Du Nord gelding has left his quirky reputation behind since switching to fences, and has been progressing well; wins at Warwick and Sandown show him to be a classy performer, and while he faces his toughest assignment yet against Willie Mullins’ charge, he looks a solid alternative to capitalise on any shortcomings Un De Sceaux might throw up.

ARKLE CHALLENGE TROPHY SELECTION – VIBRATO VALTAT (11/2, Bet365)


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2015 Arkle Trophy tips - Paul Nicholls' Vibrato Valtat to burst Un De Sceaux Cheltenham bubble

Un De Sceaux might be all the rage for the Arkle on the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival, but tipster Brian Healy is taking Willie Mullins' charge on with Paul Nicholls' Vibrato Valtat. Find out why he thinks the Voix Du Nord gelding can burst Un De Sceaux's bubble.

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