Past Winners » Arvika Ligeonniere


Arvika Ligeonniere is short enough at 7/4, but I still think that he is worth backing at that for tomorrow’s Durkan Chase.

Sir Des Champs and Flemenstar are, of course, the big talking horses going into the race, but there are reasons for opposing both. Sir Des Champs is vulnerable on his seasonal debut, embarking, as he is, on a path that will lead back to Cheltenham in March. You can be sure that the Gold Cup is Willie Mullins’ ultimate objective with the Gigginstown horse this season, and that he will improve as the season progresses. It would be really surprising if he wasn’t expected to come on for tomorrow’s run. Also, while the goodish ground will be in his favour, the drop back down to two and a half miles will not be. You have to think that this is just a starting point for him this season.

Two and a half miles is probably Flemenstar’s optimum, but the goodish ground is not. He is at his best on soft or heavy ground. Tony Martin’s horse has had the benefit of a run this term, and, while he did win the Fortria Chase at Navan four weeks ago, he wasn’t overly impressive in so doing. Specifically, his jumping was not impressive.

He was careful and high and deliberate at a lot of his fences, which was in stark contrast to last season, when he was flat and fast and efficient. It was always one of his big assets, he was able to gain ground on his rivals at his fences last season. In the Fortria Chase, the fences were a negative for him, not a positive.

Maybe Martin will have sorted out his jumping issues between then and now, but it is a leap of faith. If he jumps tomorrow like he jumped at Navan, it is unlikely that he will win.

Arvika Ligeonniere has a lot to find on the top two on ratings – 8lb and 12lb respectively – but he has the potential to find it. He was a high-class novice last season, and he looked very good in winning at Clonmel on his debut this term. He should come on again for that run.

He proved that day that he didn’t have to lead, he was happy enough to sit just behind the leader, and that is new. He was a bit of a tearaway last term but, if he settles now this season better than he used to, he can take another significant step forward. Two and a half miles at a right-handed track is probably his optimum, and he is three for three at Punchestown.