March could see the hottest Arkle Chase for many years. Petit Mouchoir and Footpad have already blazed early markers with fine victories this season, jumping being the highlight of both. Finian’s Oscar has been a much more careful jumper in his two fencing outings so far, but he could easily get slicker and his engine might prove the biggest among the two-mile novices. Brain Power is a horse I’ve always liked. He looks like a steeplechaser and his fencing debut is awaited with interest.
But the horse who’s shown he’s more than up to the challenge is North Hill Harvey. He won his second chase on the trot today with a fine performance at Cheltenham. Last time at the track he beat Sceau Royal and the promising Movewiththetimes who led Finian’s Oscar at the last yesterday.
For a 16/1 chance (four or five bookies offer that) North Hill Harvey has an awful lot in his favour:
- He’s a fine jumper on the whole, especially at speed and should continue getting slicker
- The trainer is still learning about him and might well be able to improve him a fair bit more
- And, not least, he loves Cheltenham, being 3 from 5 there with excuses the other twice.
Also, he acts on any ground by the look of things. Today he ran off an official rating of 149. That will go up 7 to 10lbs in my view, putting him well within striking distance of achieving a 160+ rating come the Festival. Seven of the past 10 Arkle winners have been rated 161 or lower. When Nico de Boinville was invited to comment ob River Wylde’s performance today as runner up, a long way behind North Hill Harvey, he finished by saying, ‘and we were beaten by a good horse’. Nico has never been one for overstatement.
I think North Hill Harvey should be no more than 10s for this and I strongly recommend you bet him at 16/1. Each Way is not advised on antepost bets so far ahead of the meeting. If for some reason he misses the race, it’s as well to have just one stake riding on it.