Cheltenham: After Un De Sceaux, Clarcam an each-way Arkle play

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When it comes to picking winners at the Cheltenham Festival, the horse-racing community is a smorgasboard of opinion. Rarely does a nag come along that turns the question from “will he win?” to “how far will he win by?”.

In the case of Tuesday’s Arkle Chase, the market leader Un De Sceaux is one such entrant. At a price of 4/7 to win the 2m gallop, saying Willie Mullins’ seven-year-old is well-fancied would be a front-runner for understatement of the year.

After falling on his chasing debut, the previously unbeaten hurdler settled over the larger obstacles to obliterate the field in his last two starts.

A 12l win over 20/1 Arkle chance Smashing was followed up with a 15l cruise over Gigginstown’s 14/1-rated Clarcam. The only thing stopping Un De Sceaux winning this race is himself.

Known as an excitable type, the gelding is a heart-in-the-mouth jumper, who takes every fence at full tilt. At such a popular, raucous meeting Un De Sceaux’s greatest enemy is the first two fences. Jump them cleanly and he’ll be away and gone.

That makes betting for a silver medal, with an each-way punt, the play for the race, capitalising on any Un De Sceaux fall as a bonus.

Paul Nicholls’ Vibrato Valtat is 5/1 second favourite for the race after winning four of his five chasing starts over 2m this season. Those runs include victories over a trio of Arkle entrants in God’s Own, Three Kingdoms and Dunraven Storm.

However, course form of 2-3-5 suggests the six-year-old isn’t the selection to follow Un De Sceaux home.

Instead, taking the 14s on Bryan Cooper’s mount, Clarcam, is preferred. The French-bred five-year-old has never finished out of the top two in four chase starts and Cooper himself has stated he’ll ride differently to when soundly beaten at Leopardstown.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.