Top-rated Al Ferof now has stand out Arkle claims at Cheltenham
Al Ferof could arguably be considered a better novice chaser than Grands Crus this season after his performance in the Victor Chandler Chase and this means that 7/1 is a massive price on him winning the Arkle at the Cheltenham Festival in March.
Paul Nicholls was previously in two minds over what to do with Al Ferof, stick to the traditional route of keeping him in novice company for the Arkle or let him run against the more experienced chasers in the Champion Chase over the same 2m trip.
The decision now seems to have been made that the Arkle is the superior option even though that will mean tackling the hugely impressive Sprinter Sacre.
But Al Ferof may have nothing to worry about if reproducing the level of performance when finishing third at Ascot in the Victor Chandler Chase, when taking on some of the best 2m chasers in running.
This performance potentially will give him an official rating greater than the 159 currently held by Cheltenham Gold Cup runner Grands Crus after finishing within four lengths of the high-class Finian’s Rainbow.
What was particularly impressive was the way he plugged on after being off the bridle some way out and these battling qualities could prove decisive up the Cheltenham hill if the Arkle is still open coming to the final flight.
Nicholls has a proven track record of getting his horses to produce their best at Cheltenham and the trainer is also of the opinion that Al Ferof tends to run better anyway in the spring than any other time of year.
Therefore, the 7/1 in the Cheltenham odds for Al Ferof in the Arkle is at worst great each-way value and certainly a more attractive price than the 5/2 offered for Sprinter Sacre.