Good morning all,
Plenty of good handicaps to get stuck into today, if that’s your thing, including the 2020 running of the Ladbroke Trophy (or the Hennessy, for those that like their tradition).
I’ve had a look at three of the races on the main piece, including the big one.
Good luck on a tricky old day!
1.50 Newbury – Ladbrokes Handicap Hurdle 2m4½f
Tea Clipper gets his ground (twice taken out due to soft ground this autumn) and was quite impressive when scoring in the Tote Silver Trophy at Chepstow in October, but the form of that isn’t really working out – the five horses that finished behind him have all run since, none of them hitting the frame – so another 7lb rise probably demands more.
Champagne Platinum is quite interesting returned to hurdles, but this is probably a warm-up before he goes back over fences, in truth, and is best watched despite a tempting mark.
It’s Howling Milan that’s the one I like, and he owes Punt followers a quid or two after his final hurdle capsize here last December. He was three lengths up and still galloping on strongly and it’s my belief he’d have won, despite the fact there were challengers trying to get to him. Regardless of that, he’s 2lb lower here after an aborted chase campaign, so is clearly well handicapped. Good ground won’t be a problem, and the first time cheekpieces replace the hood, which I don’t really think he needs anyway.
3.00 Newbury – Ladbrokes Trophy 3m2f
Given this, in the past, has been something of a trial for potential Gold Cup horses, it’s a disappointing field. How many of these have Gold Cup claims? Probably just Vinndication, in truth, and on that score alone, he has to be of some interest.
His form reads very well, and if he can just brush his jumping up a touch, I think he can compete at the very top table this year. Now, level weights races are one thing, giving chunks of weight away in handicaps is another but I’ll reiterate, this isn't the classiest renewal of this, and it wouldn’t be any surprise if he was able to give them weight and a beating.
I really liked the chances of Mister Malarky for this last year but he was a one-paced sixth, and is only on the same mark this year. A change of headgear and decent ground might both help his cause, but I’m finding him a hard one to get right.
Black Op has a touch of class and looks nicely enough weighted but does he really want a proper staying test such as this? Jury is out on that one.
So I’m once again finding myself drawn towards Cloth Cap, who really does want a staying test on good ground and has managed to get himself in here bang on ten stone. It wasn’t a bad effort at Cheltenham behind Frodon on his reappearance – he travelled perfectly well until a mistake four out put him on the back foot, but he stuck to the task and should come on for that. Cheekpieces go on in an effort to help him race a bit easier, and the booking of Tom Scudamore is no bad thing if they are going to ride him forward either.
3.15 Newcastle – Rehearsal Chase 3m
Plenty of these have something to prove at present, either on grounds of wellbeing or in the case of a couple of them, the suitability of the trip, and a shortlist isn’t hard to draw up.
Pym and The Butcher Said will head up most people’s idea of potential winners, as both may well have more to come, but small field novice chase wins are one thing, handicaps are another, and I’d rather throw a fiver at Shantou Village at the foot of the handicap.
It would be fair to say that things haven’t quite gone to plan for Shantou Village after a very successful novice chase campaign, and he hasn’t won a race for some time, but he’s better handicapped as a result and a change of headgear (to a visor, on again today) produced his best effort for 18 months in a competitive veterans handicap at Chepstow last time out, beaten just under two lengths into fourth. He’s 3lb out of the handicap here, but Harry Reed’s allowance takes care of that, and if he can build on that, he’s got a chance here.
Today's selection – Cloth Cap (e/w 5 places) 3.00 Newbury
Good luck with all your bets today,