Leading trainers square up in Arkle Novice Chase

Identity Thief (right): one of two runners for Henry de Bromhead

PICTURE: Patrick McCann (racingpost.com/photos) Leading trainers square up in Arkle Novice Chase
By Tony O'Hehir 9:25AM 29 JAN 2017

WILLIE MULLINS and Henry de Bromhead are represented by two runners apiece in Sunday's four-runner Grade 1 Frank Ward Solicitors Arkle Novice Chase. Likely favourite Min, impressive over the course and distance at Christmas, had to be ruled out after banging a knee during the week.

The Mullins pair, Bleu Et Rouge and Royal Caviar, and De Bromhead's contenders Identity Thief and Some Plan are entered for the Racing Post Arkle Trophy and the JLT Novices' Chase. Bleu Et Rouge is also entered for the RSA Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.

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Mullins is going for a sixth win in the Leopardstown contest and is chasing a hat-trick after victories for Douvan a year ago and Un De Sceaux in 2015.

Bleu Et Rouge, owned by JP McManus, was a Grade 1 winner over today's course as a novice hurdler and came from off the pace to win over 2m3f on his chasing debut over today's course at Christmas.

Mullins said: "Bleu Et Rouge did well to win last time and if he jumps better tomorrow then he'll have a very good chance.

"Royal Caviar won well first time over fences at Thurles when he gave the impression he's going to be a better chaser than he was a hurdler. He'll need to improve but if he does he could run a big race."

The De Bromhead-trained pair are more experienced than the Mullins duo and both will be running over fences for the fourth time.

Identity Thief, winner of the Fighting Fifth Hurdle last season, won his first two chases at Punchestown before being pulled up early in the back straight in the Racing Post Novice Chase over Sunday's course and distance last month, while Some Plan has won two of his three races over fences.

De Bromhead said: "Something was wrong with Identity Thief when he ran at Christmas although nothing came to light. He seems well and has been schooling well, so we're hoping he'll run back to form.

"Some Plan won well at Naas last time. He'll love the ground and is going there in good form."

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