It could be argued that it is a relatively weak field that assembles for next Saturday’s Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury, with a glaring omission of Grade One big hitters bypassing this race for other prizes.
Topofthegame led the ante post markets for some time before the fragile Paul Nicholls trained 2019 RSA Chase winner was declared out for the season due to injury whilst Champ is saving himself for a busy Christmas schedule.
However, it still leaves a mighty competitive field with several vying for favouritism in one of the most valuable handicaps of the season.
We’ll check out the major players in the betting and pinpoint the Ladbrokes Trophy best bets and top prices from our partner firms.
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Long time followers of jump racing will be delighted to see Kim Bailey back in the big time. I can remember vividly the 1995 Cheltenham Festival when Kim Bailey trained legends Alderbrook and Master Oats dominated the meeting with remarkable victories in the Champion Hurdle and Gold Cup, respectively.
Currently, the Bailey yard is slowing putting together another formidable Cheltenham team. Whilst Imperial Aura is making a lot of noise in the Ryanair Chase markets, Vinndication has steadily risen through the ranks to be a smart handicap chaser.
A promotion in grade to run in the Bet 365 Charlie Hall Chase posed no problem at all, chasing a resurgent Cyrname all the way to the line.
Sure to improve here although the weight is a slight concern.
7/1 best with bet365, William Hill, Bet Victor, Unibet, Betfred.
This David Bridgwater trained 8 year old has become a model of consistency and is still officially rated only at 147, well handicapped considering he ran a blinder in this race last year.
His Cheltenham handicap exploits have been very impressive in the last year also. I think he can go one better this year and is the selection for me.
8/1 best with William Hill.
Found prominence in the markets after an eye catching third to Cyrname in the Bet 365 Charlie Hall Chase last month. He was also only a few lengths behind runner-up Vinndication. However, there is not much else to go on for this up and coming 7-year-old. This will be his biggest test yet and will have to improve further to figure here, especially with others on much more attractive handicap marks.
8/1 best with William Hill.
This Tom George trained 9 year old has had a noticeable form boost last weekend as Imperial Aura, who beat Black Op by 4 lengths, decimated a quality field at Ascot in a listed event.
Black Op has mostly run at 2 miles 4 and 2 miles 5 furlongs but has stayed 3 miles at Kempton. This will be his biggest stamina test yet but may figure with improvement.
8/1 best with bet365, William Hill, Bet Victor
Improved greatly as a staying handicap chaser last season, culminating with a very brave second to The Conditional in the Ultima Handicap Chase at The Cheltenham Festival.
Ran ok in his season reappearance prep race at Wetherby last month and like a lot of horses in this field, will need to improve to figure here.
9/1 best with William Hill
Has failed to complete in his last two starts but caught the eye last year with a course and distance win in a decent handicap, staying on well to score by 3 lengths. Chances based on that run.
9/1 best with William Hill, Betfred
Ultimately, this is quite a weak renewal of a very prestigious handicap chase, with a lot of highly regarded entries having deferred to more lucrative and possibly less demanding appointments over Christmas.
Having said that, this is a great betting heat to get your teeth into with a multitude of horses with a great chance. However, I cannot see beyond The Conditional who has run well before in this race and is a certified stayer over this trip. There are far too many question marks regarding the rest.
Please note all odds are correct at the time of publishing (5pm 25h November 2020) and are subject to change.