What the trends say … Simonsig should win Arkle at Cheltenham
Simonsig literally ticks every box when attempting to identify the winner of the Arkle on the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival and therefore 4/6 may not be the worst price that he triumphs in the 2m novice contest.
Backing odds-on favourites would not have proved a profitable pastime across the last four Festivals, with exactly half of the 14 to go off at such a price being turned over.
Three horses look virtually guaranteed to start at odds-on this year and Simonsig will probably look less of a winner than either Sprinter Sacre in the Queen Mother Champion Chase or Quevega in the David Nicholson Mares’ Hurdle.
However, the trends for the Arkle make him hard to oppose.
Seven-year-old entrants have won five of the last ten Arkles, including four of the last six.
Meanwhile, only two horses older than eight have ever won the race dating back to 1946, which is a mammoth stat for nine-year-old Overturn (3/1) to overcome.
Fellow fancy Arvika Ligeonniere (9/1) is eight and although this age group do not fare as bad as their elders, they have still only been responsible for two winners since 1990.
More bad news for Arvika Ligeonniere comes in the shape that his trainer Willie Mullins has never won the race and all of his seven entrants in the last decade have not even made the each-way places.
This is in comparison to Simonsig’s trainer Nicky Henderson, who has seen four of his last eight Arkle runners make the frame, including Sprinter Sacre last year.
A further statistic is that five of the last 10 Arkle winners had finished in the first four of a Grade One hurdle at a previous Festival.
Simonsig won the Neptune last year, while Overturn ran above expectation to take second in the Champion Hurdle.
Neither have been beaten over fences as yet and all of the last 10 winners of the Arkle came from the first five in the betting.
It is not typically a race for upsets, but the age statistic is hard to ignore, which is the final tick in Simonsig’s column for victory.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.