The betting for the Irish Arkle (and indeed the Cheltenham equivalent) is currently dominated by two horses, and one piece of form that separated Notebook from the re-opposing Fakir D’Oudairies in a two mile chase at Leopardstown over the Christmas period.
Notebook created a bit of a shock that day as an 8/1 outsider, but nonetheless he was impressive, winning the Grade 1 Racing Post Novice Chase. However, it was a tactical race and he didn’t have to beat much as Laurina misfired, and it’s also possible that Fakir D’Oudairies might be better over a longer trip. The latter is classy on his day and there could be more improvement from both.
However, they are both poor value from a punting perspective and with very limited competition in this grade so far this season, it’s possible to pick holes in the strength of that form.
Melon might be a better chaser than we have seen so far, but his limitations in top-class company have often been exposed and I don’t see him winning the British version of the Arkle despite his strong record at Cheltenham.
Bapaume is also thrown in the mix here, but he’s surely not good enough to be contending for honours although the race could be run to suit with him dropping back in trip.
So, I think it’s well worth taking a chance that CASH BACK is the top candidate for Willie Mullins who runs four. Cash Back has been very lightly raced – just the five times – since moving from France three years ago to this yard so he remains full of promise.
Cash Back was a decent hurdler winning one of his three starts. But he has looked an altogether different proposition over fences as he hosed up on both his chase starts over two miles this season.
Cash Back’s jumping showed major improvement from his first to second start over larger obstacles and he appeared to stay extremely well judging by his most recent start at Naas, where he beat a decent yardstick in Zero Ten by 12l. Danny Mullins really struggled to pull him up at the finishing line, suggesting he had plenty left in the tank, and that’s a strong quality for him to possess stepping up to top-class company here given his running style.
Willie Mullins has likened Cash Back to Un De Sceaux – a front-runner that likes to get on with things – and he could be very difficult to peg back if he gets a lead out in front, which he’s sure to look for.
Cash Back is currently a 10/1 shot for the Arkle in March, but that price will collapse come Saturday afternoon if he’s able to put the market principles to the sword and I think he looks the value-bet at 13/2.
1pt win Cash Back @13/2, 14:00 Leopardstown, SaturdayLeave a comment