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Mikael among Arkle contenders

Mikael D'Haguenet remains among 13 potential starters in next Tuesday's Irish Independent Arkle Challenge Trophy at Cheltenham.

Willie Mullins still has the option of the RSA Chase and the Ladbrokes World Hurdle for his top-class novice hurdler, who still has a big reputation but is still to win in three starts over fences in Ireland.

There were few surprises at the confirmation stage for the two-mile novice title with Medermit, Ghizao and Finian's Rainbow - locked together at the top of the betting - all still set to be involved.

Next best in the market Realt Dubh remains in line to travel over from Noel Meade's yard, while Philip Hobbs will make a late decision as to whether Captain Chris contests this event or the Jewson later in the week.

As expected, Alan Fleming has taken Starluck out of the race, while Nicky Henderson has withdrawn Bellvano. Dan Breen, Giorgio Quercus, Rock Noir, West With The Wind, William's Wishes, Blazing Tempo and Stagecoach Pearl complete the line-up.

Sue Smith plans to let the latter take his chance and the Yorkshire raider will be the most experienced in the field over fences with nine runs under his belt, having competed during the summer jumping season.

However, he raised his game when the serious action returned, winning handicaps at Aintree and Haydock and finishing second to Finian's Rainbow in the Kingmaker Novices' Chase at Warwick last time.

"It looks like being a small field which will suit us," said Smith. "He needed his last run at Warwick a bit but did nothing wrong there and was beaten by a very good horse, although everything there will be a very good horse also. But he's in very good form and I hope he runs a good race."


From Belfast Telegraph