With the upcoming Jumps season fast approaching, racing fans are starting to plan ahead to the spectacular Cheltenham Festival.
The four-day meeting kicks off on Tuesday 15th March, with several Grade 1 races on offer on the opening day.
Our team have made their ante-post calls for the first novice chase of the Festival, the Arkle Chase.
Here are three selections to add to your ante-post calculations.
FERNY HOLLOW (14/1 – Sky Bet)
Ante-post betting is all about plotting the contender’s next move and it would not be a huge shock if Willie Mullins decided to go novice chasing with FERNY HOLLOW.
The six-year-old unfortunately got injured early into last season, but he carries some very strong form with him that should be noted.
The Westener gelding overcame Appreciate It in the Champion Bumper, who would go on blitz his opponents in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, and he beat Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle winner Bob Olinger on his sole start over obstacles.
It is unclear whether Mullins will keep Ferny Hollow over fences but with the unstoppable Honeysuckle aiming for a second Champion Hurdle, his price of 14/1 for the Arkle is potentially hinting at value at this stage.
DUSART (25/1 – bet365, Betfair + PP)
An exciting sort that was started straight over hurdles, DUSART could be a serious contender for the Arkle come next March.
Nicky Henderson’s recruit was only seen twice last season, kicking off with a comfortable success at Newbury back in November.
The six-year-old missed Cheltenham but he returned to action in Grade 1 company at Aintree in April, running well to finish two and a half lengths behind County Hurdle winner Belfast Banter in third.
The gelding could well have more in his locker and is one to watch out for over fences in the upcoming National Hunt season.
JAMES DU BERLAIS (33/1 – bet365)
A slight shot in the dark in regards to this selection, but JAMES DU BERLAIS’ pedigree and price is simply too much to ignore for this contest.
A relatively new recruit to Willie Mullins’ yard, the five-year-old caught the attention of punters when the Closutton trainer dropped him in the deep end with his stable debut coming in the Champion Hurdle.
He was disappointing on that occasion but he delivered a much better performance in the Ladbrokes Champion Stayers Hurdle at Punchestown, finishing second behind Klassical Dream.
The two-mile distance in the Arkle could well be a little short, but his price of 33/1 holds appeal at this stage of proceedings.