Starluck set for surprise stab at the Arkle Chase

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Despite never jumping a fence in public before, Alan Fleming has decided that a tilt at the Arkle Chase may represent the best move for Starluck at the Cheltenham Festival.

Starluck has been a regular contender in the biggest races over hurdles in recent seasons and it was widely expected that he would be lining up in the Champion Hurdle next month.

However, with the grey often finding one or two too good over the smaller obstacles, Fleming has decided that the best chance of victory may be over the same two-mile trip, but instead over fences.

Starluck has now been given a 25/1 quote in the Arkle Chase betting, but this price could substantially shorten if he runs well on a debut over fences at Huntingdon next week, assuming that no rain falls.

Fleming said: “He’s done plenty of schooling at home, likes it, and has pleased us but the first thing to do is get the first run under our belt.

“Obviously we are trying to broaden our options, there are plenty of good hurdlers over two miles around.”

The other dilemma facing Fleming is to find another jockey to ride Starluck, as regular partner Timmy Murphy is set to be on board Ghizao, who is one of the three joint favourites in the Cheltenham betting at 4/1.

Daryl Jacob is one candidate to get the ride, while there is also an outside chance that Ruby Walsh could take the reins, given the lack of leading Arkle challengers from the yards of either Paul Nicholls or Willie Mullins.

Fleming has stated that it is virtually certain that the jockey that rides Starluck at Huntingdon will also be in the saddle at the Cheltenham Festival.

A £25 stake on Nicholls runner Pepe Simo winning the Arkle Chase would return £825. New customers can sign up here for a free £25 bet.

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Craig Kemp

Craig has written for Ladbrokes since the 2010 World Cup, having previously gained a Media & Sports Journalism degree and contributed to publications including the Racing Post. His main areas of interest are horse racing and UFC, but he is also an avid X Factor gambler and likes nothing more than indulging in a spot of Hip Hop Karaoke.