This weekend sees Newbury hosting its premier jumps meeting, The Ladbrokes Winter Carnival including the Saturday feature race, The Ladbrokes Trophy (formerly known as The Hennessey Gold Cup).
Early indications point toward a fairly open affair with very few top rated Cheltenham Gold Cup entries in the field. This is unusual of course when past winners are considered: Native River, Denman, Bob’s Worth and Many Clouds are just a few illustrious example winners of this highly valuable staying handicap chase.
Nevertheless, a frenetic betting heat is guaranteed as a decent number of horses have been well backed this week, including the Harry Fry trained American who vied for favouritism last year with eventual winner Total Recall. He comes from a stable in good form and this renewal looks like it might produce a winner with a decent price considering the relative lack of quality in the field.
However, our preference has gone for the mare Ms Parfois who has demonstrated eye catching consistency in her career over fences.
MS PARFOIS **SELECTION**
This tough mare has been a model of consistency in the recent seasons. She comes strongly into the reckoning on the back of a very decent second behind Rathvinden in the Amateur Riders Handicap at Cheltenham last March. This was followed up by a very respectable second behind Terrefort at Aintree, who led the ante post market here for some time before being withdrawn last week.
The trainer, Anthony Honeyball, is quite bullish about her chances when speaking to Racing UK:
“The sensible thing, though, could be to run her in the Ladbrokes Trophy. She has won round Newbury and stays the trip well. It would be tough, and she would go there without a run – but I don’t think that would be an issue. If she was to run well in the Ladbrokes Trophy, then we could get her back for the Welsh National – and if that was tight, we have the Classic Chase at Warwick.”
The only worry is the fact that not many mares have won this race in the past.
This Colin Tizzard trained 6 year old put up some creditable performances last season and whilst arguably lacking the class of some of the more established chasers in this field, he does have some each way appeal especially in view of the number of recent defections. He also has winning form at Newbury which is a big plus. I would have preferred a bigger price as he needs to find something more in the latter stages of his races. 9/2 best with William Hill and Betfred.
His form figures don’t make for good reading and he has had a very unsettled last season or so. He tends to run in snatches and has lost confidence in races when brushing through fences or jumping awkwardly. That’s the bad news. The good news is that this horse does have tremendous ability and with a clear run, could prove to be an exciting contender for this and even greater races.
This was proved when he absolutely hammered Rock The Kasbah in 2017 and ran creditably behind Definitely Red in last season’s Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham. He’s extremely well handicapped and he would not have to improve a great deal on that Cheltenham performance to figure prominently here. The 25/1 that was available earlier in the week has gone but the 16/1 with Betfred and Coral is worth taking now.
This Paul Nicholls’ trained 7 year old is one of the toughest in the business. His last run in the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby witnessed one of the greatest riding recoveries ever seen when regular partner Bryony Front managed to stay on board after what seemed like a horrible mistake in the race.
He went on to finish 2nd behind Definitely Red. He has been aimed for this race for some time and as long as he is not making the running at Newbury, he should be able to pick off some rivals and gain a place at decent odds. 16/1 best with William Hill and Betfred.
Overall, it’s a slightly disappointing turnout for such a prestigious handicap and sadly lacking in quality compared to recent renewals. Nevertheless, nothing should be taken away from what should be a highly competitive race in what could be testing conditions. Ms Parfois looks to have the formbook in her favour whilst American offers some each way appeal if he can avoid any trouble going round.