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JPR the One to down Warrior in open Arkle

JPR One has won two of his four starts over fences this season
JPR One has won two of his four starts over fences this season

THERE’s definitely an open look to this year’s My Pension Expert Arkle (2.10pm), with the betting 7/2 the field and seven of the 10 runners shorter than 10/1.

I put up JPR ONE as an ante-post bet for this race back in January, following his win in the Lightning Novices at Lingfield and am very happy to be sitting on a price of 16/1 with Grosvenor Sport.

Plenty has changed in the market since then with the notable absence of then favourite Marine Nationale, while Facile Vega is being aimed at the Turners instead.

Both those horses would have been major threats to JPR One, so his claims look to have strengthened considerably and I wouldn’t put anyone off taking the current 9/1 on offer.

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Joe Tizzard’s runner will come here a fresh horse having been off since his win in January and he would also have been a course and distance winner were it not for unseating at the last when with the race at his mercy back in November.

The going looks set to be soft on the opening day and given the way this race is often run it could prove to be an exacting test for these novices.

As a winner on heavy ground, JPR One looks well equipped to handle conditions, and the fact he has won over further in the past suggests he won’t mind a test at the trip.

Of the others, I’m not convinced Cheltenham suits Il Etait Temps and I’d have reservations about Found A Fifty around here as well.

Hunters Yarn could be a threat, but despite a hugely disappointing run at Leopardstown last time, the one horse I really fear is GAELIC WARRIOR.

He’s looked seriously classy in his first two runs over fences this season, winning impressively at Punchestown and then Limerick, where he was much too good for stablemate and his nearest market rival here Il Etait Temps.

With Il Etait Temps going on to advertise that form in no uncertain terms by landing the Irish Arkle at the Dublin Racing Festival, Gaelic Warrior stands out in a race that may lack a true Grade One performer.

It has of course been widely discussed that the Rich Ricci-owned runner prefers going right-handed and has a tendency to give away lengths by jumping out to his right around Cheltenham.

That’s a definite concern, especially around the tighter Old Course, but he’s still the class horse in the race and may not jump as badly right-handed if tucked in behind the pace instead of making it out in front.

I’d expect Paul Townend to smuggle him into the race and keep him well covered up behind rivals for as long as possible as in the past he has been shown to jump straighter when surrounded by horses.

Interestingly connections turn to a first-time hood, which may help him concentrate, but perhaps more importantly this race will be run at a true gallop and he’ll have plenty of rivals to give him cover.

That was the case in the Ballymore last year, when Patrick Mullins kept him hard on the rail for as long as he could, and if similar tactics are employed, I can see him running a mighty race.

The 5/2 on offer in several places looks more than fair and I’ll be having a saver on him in case things don’t go to plan for JPR One.

POINTERS

Gaelic Warrior    2.10pm                Cheltenham

Already advised

JPR One e/w  16/1