The tremendous hot streak being enjoyed by trainer Nicky Henderson continued unabated at Newbury on Wednesday as his Finian’s Rainbow did little to detract from the hopes of many that he might be the one to be on for the Grade 1 Arkle Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in a couple of months time, writes Elliot Slater.
Admittedly, Barry Geraghty’s mount only had two rivals to beat and was sent off at the prohibitive odds of 2/13, but with the exception of one error in the back straight he jumped very well and had taken the measure of Tale of the Bank when that rival crashed out at the third from home, leaving him to come home 51-lengths clear of Babysitter and anyone with Cheltenham free bets to place should have a look at that performance to see what the horse can do.
Finian’s Rainbow had already been prominent in the ante-post list for the Arkle Chase after impressing most observers with his jumping and the way he despatched subsequent Grade 2 winner Hell’s Bay when the pair met at Newbury in November. The rough and tumble of the ‘Arkle’ will be a world apart from the small-field races that Henderson’s eight-year-old has dominated so far this term, but being a generally sound jumper and having proved he handles Cheltenham when running a solid sixth behinds Peddlers Cross in the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle at the festival last March, there are sound reasons for believing that the Tiraaz gelding will give a very good account of himself.
Most firms trimmed the odds of a Finian’s Rainbow Cheltenham victory to a best-priced 6/1, making him joint favourite with the Paul Nicholls-trained Ghizao, also an impressive winner of his last two outings and an intended runner in the two-mile novice chasing championship race. They bet 16/1 bar the two 6/1 joint-favourites.