Noel Meade believes his Arkle fancy is the Realt deal

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Realt Dubh leads the Irish challenge in the Irish Independent Arkle and after such a long period without a winner, Irish horses have won the last two renewals of the Arkle.

It’s a race the Irish hold very dear to their hearts and for a period of 11 years between 1997 and 2008, the Arkle remained on British land as the Irish failed to find a horse capable of defeating the British challenge.

But all that changed in 2009 when Thomas Cooper’s Forpadydeplasterer ended the Irish hoodoo and after Sizing Europe retained the trophy in 2010, the Irish are looking for a hat-trick of wins and Realt Dubh (9/1 to win the Arkle) is their best chance.

With four British horses ahead of Realt Dubh in the betting, it’s not going to be an easy task for the Noel Meade-trained seven-year-old, and Medermit (3/1), Finian’s Rainbow (7/2), Ghizao (7/2) and Captain Chris (8/1) all stand in Realt Dubh’s way.

There have been only two winning favourites since 1992 which leaves Medermit struggling to defy the trends, but all of the last 20 winners have started 11/1 or shorter in the betting.

With Rock Noir 14/1 and Mikael D’haguenet 16/1, only the five horses previously mentioned have Cheltenham odds shorter than 11/1 and Realt Dubh is the only Irish challenger among them.

Trainer Noel Meade narrowly missed out on a Arkle victory in 1998 when a photo-finished handed the victory to Martin Pipe’s Champleve ahead of Hill Society, and Meade believes Realt Dubh holds much stronger claims on paper.

“He’s [Realt Dubh] won two Grade Ones and a Grade Two this year and Hill Society had done nothing like that,” said Meade.

“He’s a very good moving horse and I don’t think he’ll mind a bit of good ground, it shouldn’t be a problem.”

A £25 stake on Realt Dubh winning the Arkle would return £250. New customers can sign up here for a free Cheltenham Festival bet worth £25.

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Robbie Morris

Robbie studied sports journalism at the University of Gloucestershire, an establishment chosen for its proximity to Cheltenham racecourse, where he was a season ticket holder. Upon graduation, Robbie was a contributor to GolfPunk, a national magazine aimed at ridding golf of its traditionalist image, before joining the news.ladbrokes team.