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Starluck a surprise entry for Arkle

Classy hurdler Starluck, yet to jump a fence in public and last seen finishing third to Binocular in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton, is a surprise entry for the Irish Independent Arkle Trophy at the Cheltenham Festival.

Surrey trainer Alan Fleming intends heading for the Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton next, but explained the reasoning behind the grey's inclusion.

"We've given him an entry just in case," he said.

"The boss (Andrew Wates) has mentioned him going chasing, so we'll see. He'll more than likely run in the Kingwell (Hurdle) first if the ground is good.

"We are just keeping our options open at the minute."

The last two renewals have gone to Irish-trained runners and the Noel Meade-trained Realt Dubh is among 10 entries from these shores.

The seven-year-old is seeking a Grade One hat-trick after seeing off the Paul Nolan-trained Noble Prince to win both the Bord Na Mona With Nature Novices' Chase and the Frank Ward Solicitors Arkle Novices' Chase.

Willie Mullins has engaged Mikael d'Haguenet, winner of the Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle at the 2009 Festival but yet to make an impact over fences, as well as Quel Esprit, Blazing Tempo and Morning Supreme.

Other interesting possibles include Alan King's Medermit, Colin Tizzard's Hell's Bay, David Pipe's Mamlook and Jonjo O'Neill's Rock Noir.

Paddy Power have Finian's Rainbow and Ghizao as their 5/1 joint-favourites.


Ghizao is one of three entries by trainer Paul Nicholls, who has two Arkle successes to his credit, along with Robinson Collonges and Pepe Simo.

Finian's Rainbow heads Nicky Henderson's five-strong team as the Seven Barrows trainer bids to win Cheltenham's two-mile novice chase championship for a fourth time.

The eight-year-old is unbeaten in two starts over fences, but Henderson is keen to get another race into him ahead of the big meeting.

Henderson said: "He will have another race before Cheltenham but we're inconvenienced that the Kingmaker Novices' Chase at Warwick is on the same day as the Tote Gold Trophy which rules that race out for him.

"It's the obvious race but it doesn't suit the owners and the jockeys who are all at Newbury."

Henderson, successful in the Arkle with Remittance Man (1991), Travado (1993) and Tiutchev (2000), also has the mare Nadiya De La Vega and French import Surfing among his possibles.