THE LADBROKES TROPHY (Previously known as The Hennessey Gold Cup)
This gruelling 3m 2furlong chase at Newbury ranks as the biggest handicap of the season bar the Grand National.
Previous winners form an illustrious list, which includes Bob’s Worth, Denman, One Man and most recently Native River. It’s a highly competitive race. However, on the odd occasion the race produces a steamer favourite who is thumped on all week and goes off at relatively prohibitive odds. Some of them go on to become household names, such is the significance of the race. One Man back in 94 was all the rage, Denman in 2007 and Bob’s Worth in 2012. They all obliged and went on to have glittering careers.
This year has another possible contender and although it’s too early to say if he will be a future star over fences, Total Recall trained by Willie Mullins, looks the part and should take all the beating.
Willie Mullins does not send horses over to British racecourses unless he thinks the prize money is worth it or his charge has a serious chance of winning. Total Recall’s current short price (best at Ladbrokes, William Hill at 5/1) is based on possibly the performance of the season so far in Ireland as he absolutely decimated a quality field in The JT McNamara Ladbrokes Munster National Handicap last month. Eased up before the line, he hardly broke sweat to register an 8 length win over Alpha Des Obeaux.
He has an outstanding chance at the weights and should be open to improvement. However, it’s a tough race to win but remains my choice nonetheless.
Harry Fry has carefully planned American’s route with this race very much in mind. He had a cracking last season, winning three on the bounce and this race does favour graduating novice chasers. Carrying 11st 4 is a tough ask however. Best priced at 7/1 with the race sponsors Ladbrokes.
Singlefarmpayment has excellent form at Cheltenham having been narrowly beaten in The Ultima Handicap Chase at The Festival and recently getting 4 lengths behind Cogry in a major handicap at Cheltenham last month. He’s very well handicapped based on that form and is best backed at 7/1 with Ladbrokes, William Hill and Coral.
A Genie In A Bottle has been well backed all week, coming into 12/1 best (Coral) from 20’s. He’s had some solid form in Ireland recently, unbeaten in 2 runs and represents some each way value.
Whisper, trained by Nicky Henderson, is certainly the most established horse in the race and arguably holds the strongest form. His narrow defeat to Might Bite in the RSA Chase at The Cheltenham Festival is by far the most noticeable past performance of the field. He has a great chance but I think the handicapper has got him in his grip. Having to give weight to the likes of Total Recall, who is extremely unexposed, is too much a risk for me. 8/1 best with Ladbrokes.
If you’re looking for a worthy outsider at big odds, you wouldn’t go too far wrong getting on the Nigel Twiston-Davies trained Cogry. The Twiston-Davies yard is quite simply on fire at the moment having won both of the major long distance listed chases (The Charlie Hall and The Betfair Chase) this season. Cogry won well last time out in a decent handicap at Cheltenham and he may improve further here on a light weight. Best priced at 20/1 with Boylesports.
THISTLECRACK RETURNS IN THE LONG DISTANCE HURDLE
The Friday first day of this meeting doesn’t usually offer an overly enticing menu, however, it’s box office this year as Colin Tizzard’s major big gun, Thistlecrack, finally re-emerges after nearly a year on the side-lines. Last seen suffering a rare defeat at the hands of the ill-fated Many Clouds at Cheltenham, racing enthusiasts have been wax lyrical ever since about what the 9 year old might have achieved had he participated in The Gold Cup this year.
The 2016 King George winner is without doubt, one of the best chasers in training and he should brush off the likes of Uknowwhatimeanharry who might give Thistlecrack something to think about, with the benefit of a recent run. Thistlecrack can be grabbed at 10/11 best with Ladbrokes, William Hill.
The Ladbrokes Trophy Handicap Chase, 1500 Newbury, Saturday 2nd December:TOTAL RECALL (win) with Ladbrokes at 5/1
The Ladbrokes Long Distance Hurdle, 1500 Newbury, Friday 1st December. THISTLECRACK (win) with Ladbrokes at 10/11