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Festival pricewise: Statistics suggest we should wait for now; BIG-RACE TRENDS.

Byline: Craig Thake

IN ALL honesty, this probably isn't the best time to be contemplating an ante-post bet on the Arkle Chase. There are two reasons for this, writes Craig Thake. First, recent history shows us that if a horse has already served notice that it has sound chasing form, then it isn't going to do that much more between now and the Festival for its price to shrink greatly. Azertyuiop, Moscow Flyer, Tiutchev and Flagship Uberalles all shortened, but not by great amounts; neither would Ventana Canyon and Klairon Davis have done so in the days before there was widespread ante-post betting on the race.

Secondly, there is the Martin Pipe factor. He has been responsible for three winners in the past decade. Two of them were unraced over fences in early February and, as a result, were 33-1 at this stage, while his other winner had been off the track since December and did not reappear until the Festival.

Those looking for an interest should note that none of the winners had finished outside the first two on any completed start over fences. Also, every winner bar one was aged between five and seven, with five and six-year-olds having a staggeringly good strike-rate. Remember, the younger generation still gets a valuable 5lb allowance.

French-breds have done well, accounting for four winners, while all the other winners had achieved a Racing Post Rating of at least 135 over hurdles, with four having notched decent marks at the previous Cheltenham Festival.

This is a race in which the Irish have a decent record and War Of Attrition, who was second in the Supreme Novices' last season, could yet be a significant market-mover. Kauto Star currently looks the pick of the home team, in a year when Pipe seems to have played his cards earlier than usual.
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Feb 1, 2005
Previous Article:Festival pricewise: Unbeaten Irish pair possess that Arkle sparkle; Irish Independent Arkle Chase preview.
Next Article:Festival pricewise: Contraband will have a real chance on decent ground; Arkle Trophy news update.

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