Sublime potential in the novice ranks

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The Independent Online
The Cheltenham Festival's Sun Alliance Chase and Arkle Trophy have a surprisingly poor record in producing future Gold Cup and Champion Chase winners, but the list of entries published yesterday has a more productive function. Among the 61 entered for the Sun Alliance and 30 for the Arkle are several who have achieved little but are clearly expected to justify their entry fee in the six weeks before the Festival.

Those that catch the eye in the Sun Alliance are Highland Jack, Chief Rager and Sorbiere. The first-named, who has the look of a chaser, was sent fencing by Andy Turnell after just one outing over hurdles. He made an impressive start when second to St Mellion Fairway at Lingfield but then crashed out early in a better race at Kempton next time. Nigel Twiston- Davies's Chief Rager was a good third to Jibber The Kibber on his only outing over fences, and Nick Henderson's Sorbiere who was similarly promising in his only chase start behind Nemuro.

In the Arkle, Henderson's Sublime Fellow, a faller at the last in Trying Again's Kempton race, looks interesting.

David Nicholson has an embarrassment of riches in the Sun Alliance with five entries. The Irish bookmakers Liam Cashman have already opened betting on the race and make Nicholson's St Mellion Fairway, who also holds a Gold Cup entry, the best of the quintet at 7-1 behind Mr Mulligan on 6- 1. Billygoat Gruff, Call It A Day, Hill Of Tullow and King Lucifer complete his challenge.

Martin Pipe's ex-French mare Draborgie is entered for both novice events and Cashman makes her favourite, at 9-2 for the Arkle.

Arkle Trophy (Cheltenham, 12 March) Liam Cashman: 9-2 Draborgie, 6-1 Arctic Kinsman, 7-1 Certainly Strong, Ventana Canyon, 8-1 King Wah Glory, Manhattan Castle, 9-1 Trying Again, 12-1 Ask Tom, Captain Khedive, 14- 1 others.

Sun Alliance Chase (Cheltenham, 13 March) Liam Cashman: 6-1 Mr Mulligan, 7-1 St Mellion Fairway, 8-1 Major Summit, 9-1 The Grey Monk, 10-1 The Billygoat Gruff, Nahthen Lad, 11-1 Hill Of Tullow, 12-1 others