Rain arrives in Thyne for Burke’s Arkle hope

CHAMPION trainer Paul Nicholls is full of confidence ahead of Noland’s assault on the Irish Independent Arkle Trophy at Cheltenham this afternoon.

The seven-year-old won the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle two years ago and will arrive at Prestbury Park defending an unbeaten record over fences.

Noland has proved popular in the ante-post markets as the countdown to Cheltenham gathered pace and Nicholls is certainly expecting a bold show from the John Hales-owned gelding on Tuesday.

“Noland goes for the Arkle two years on from his victory in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle,” said Nicholls.

“He jumps well and he gets two and a half miles, which will suit after the rain.

“The ground should suit and there are lots of ticks in the right boxes for him,” he said.

Another trainer happy with conditions on the eve of the contest is Liam Burke, who will be represented by Thyne Again.

The seven-year-old has already struck at the highest level over fences this season and warmed up for a crack at Arkle glory with a dominant 21-length win last month.

Burke said: “I’m looking forward to it now and the rain seems to have come in time for him.

“He travelled over on Saturday and that all went fine. He ate and drank and he’s fine after that, he’s in good order in himself.”

Thyne Again won over two and a half miles last time but Burke believes the combination of a fast-run two miles on the prevailing ground should suit his charge ideally.

“I’d hope the trip with an uphill finish would really suit him, especially with a little bit of ease in the ground,” he continued.

“It is an open race but you’d think Noland is the class horse in the race – he won the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle there a couple of years ago.

“He jumps well and we’ll just hope for the best now. Hopefully he’ll get round safe and sound and he should be in there with a shout.”

John Quinn expects Leslingtaylor to make a bold bid having bested the reopposing Tidal Bay when the pair met at Doncaster last month.

Quinn said: “It’s an open Arkle and it’s obviously a good race but it does look open.

“I’m looking forward to him and he’s in good nick, but we don’t want them to get too much rain.

“He’s in very good form and he’s entitled to run. He’s done a lot of his winning on flatter tracks but he hasn’t run a lot on undulating ones to be fair.

“He’s got the pace and if it doesn’t suit him we’ll go on to Aintree.”

Like Burke, Quinn admits the Nicholls-trained ante-post favourite merits the utmost respect.

“I saw Noland win the last day and I was impressed with him, he jumps very well,” he added.

Also among the field of 14 are Clopf, French Accordion, Mahogany Blaze, Marodima, Moon Over Miami, Orpen Wide, Premiership, Ring The Boss, Scotsirish and Kruguyrova.

The last-named, trained by Charles Egerton, receives 7lb as the only member of the fairer sex in the line-up and a fighting-fit Tony McCoy is looking forward to taking the ride.

McCoy said: “She’s a tough little mare and getting the allowances in this race has got to give her a chance."

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Join us for a special evening of Cheltenham chat on Friday March 12 at 6.30pm with racing legend and Irish Examiner columnist Ruby Walsh, Irish Examiner racing correspondent Tommy Lyons, and former champion jockey and tv presenter Mick Fitzgerald, author of Better than Sex.

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