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The Henry De Bromhead-trained and Gigginstown-owned seven-year-old Notebook is now as short as 5/2 to go on and land the Arkle on the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival. He is also proving a popular selection for those using the latest Cheltenham betting offers, which is no surprise as he looks to have the stand out form at present.
This is a remarkable rise for the horse, who was beaten 51 lengths by City Island in the 2019 running of the Ballymore Novices' Hurdle. However, the horse rounded off his Novice Hurdle campaign by running second to Gardens of Babylon in the International Novice Hurdle at Punchestown. This also saw Notebook awarded an RPR of 143, which at the time was a clear career best.
Following a 165 day break he returned in a Beginners Chase at Punchestown. There had been positive reports about the horse and how they expected improvement as he went over fences. Sent off at odds of 5/4, he jumped well throughout and kept on strongly to hold off the Gordon Elliott-trained Éclair De Beaufeu by just under three lengths. That horse has now gone on to land a Grade B handicap at Leopardstown, which further adds to the form.
Notebook was then stepped up to contest the Grade Two Craddockstown Novice Chase at Punchestown. This saw the horse produce his best performance to date, as he stayed on powerfully to win comfortably by five lengths from stablemate Moon over Germany. The horse's jumping was again key to the victory.
Notebook was then stepped up for his first big test over fences in the Grade One Racing Post Novice Chase at Leopardstown. He was sent off at odds of 7/1 against the likes of Fakir D'Oudairies and favourite Laurina. The latter ran no race before being pulled up. She appears to have some underlining issues and it would come as no surprise if she returned to hurdles sooner than later.
This meant the race turned into a head to head between Notebook and Fakir. Notebook again travelled well and took up the running from three out. He then extended his advantage moving to the last and stayed on powerfully to win by just over a length from Fakir. The difference was again the jumping and there is little doubt that Notebook is one of the best novices we have seen jumping for some time. It now sets up for a fascinating rematch between the pair if they both take up there entries in the Arkle.
Next up for Notebook was the Grade One Arkle Novice Chase at Leopardstown against the Mullins trio of Bapaume, Melon and Cash Back. Bapaume was well beaten and ran no race under Robbie Power, which was a surprise. Melon was also well-beaten and continues to struggle to find his best form over fences. It turned out to be a clash between Notebook and Cash Back. The latter made much of the running, before being joined by Notebook going to the last. It then turned into a duel up the straight but it was Notebook who battled on to win by just under a length.
This performance was another very impressive one and why he is now firmly the favourite and horse to beat going into the Arkle at Cheltenham.
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