Good morning all,
To all of us, it'll forever be the Hennessy, but Ladbrokes have taken over sponsorship and we'll have to get calling it something else. For the time being anyway….
Normally on a Saturday I do all the TV races, but there's so little I fancy today. I'm actually squeezing a day at Doncaster in and I'll bring you a review of that next week.
So today, here's my Pinstickers Guide To The Ladbrokes Trophy. 7 places Hills and Skybet? Too good to pass up (if you can get on…)
Total Recall (Willie Mullins, 10-8 to carry, 5-1)
Made an absolute mockery of his mark when winning the Munster National last time out with any amount in hand you care to name. Unsurprisingly, that handicapper has given him a right kicking, with a 18lb rise for that, but he may well have won with that on his back anyway. This, obviously, is tougher but he’s still unexposed, and has to be on anyone’s shortlist. If you’re looking for a reason to take him on, Willie’s record with chasers here ain’t great.
American (Harry Fry, 11-4, 7-1)
This has always looked the natural target for him, given he has to have some cut (and despite what you read about a dry week, that going stick reading at Newbury shows there’s plenty of juice in the ground) so the big Spring races will be on ground he hates. It’s his superb jumping that has marked him out, barely touching a twig in three front-running victories last year. Fair to say it’s not escaped the handicapper’s notice, but if (as is suspected) he’s Gold Cup class, there’s a bit to play with off this mark.
Singlefarmpayment (Tom George, 10-8, 7-1)
Becoming a bit of a nearly horse. He nearly won the Ultima Handicap Chase at the Festival, only going down a short head to Festival stalwart Un Temps Pour Tout, then nearly won the valuable randoxhealth.com handicap on his reappearance but looked like he needed the run and tired late. That mark still looks on the low side – amazing he’s run so well in these big races and is still under 150 – and has to be on the premises.
Whisper (Nicky Henderson, 11-8, 8-1)
Classy hurdler that made a good enough transition to chases, despite a few mistake in his early career over them, but to my eyes made hard work of it at Kempton in a two-horse race, where his jumping became sticky again. The ability is there, as he showed when catching and then getting caught by an idling Might Bite in the RSA, but two negatives for me – one, the form of the yard, which is very in-and-out, and two, this big field, which will put his jumping under maximum pressure.
A Genie In A Bottle (Noel Meade, 10-13, 10-1)
Stays longer than the mother-in-law at Christmas, and if this turns into a slog, there will be none better equipped. Has looked good when winning twice in October and in beating the equally slogfest-loving Tiger Roll last time, only got put up 2lb for it. This bigge field asks a new question of him – all his wins have come in smaller, single-figure fields – but that aside, hard to find too many negatives.
Coneygree (Mark Bradstock, 11-12, 12-1)
Former Gold Cup winner trying to rekindle former glories after an injury, but despite signs that the engine is still there (nothing wrong with his third to Sizing John at Punchestown) that was a disappointing effort at Wetherby, low sun or not. The questions are stacking up now, and I’m happy to look elsewhere.
Vyta Du Roc (Nicky Henderson, 10-1, 12-1)
Last time he won a race was when he beat Minella Rocco at Ascot in February 2016, form that makes him look thrown in here, but that also illustrates how hard he is to win with and despite a near miss in the Bet365 last spring, there’s simply too many bad efforts on his dancecard to be trusting him at this price. If you’ve got the 20’s, good luck to you, but I’ll not be playing.
Present Man (Paul Nicholls, 10-7, 16-1)
Confounded us all (well, me) by acting just as well on soft ground at Wincanton as he had on quicker ground previously, which I was convinced he needed. Is he really still improving at the age of 7? Hard to believe, and this is more competitive than the Badger (plenty there blew out on the ground) so I’m happy to pass him over this time.
Royal Vacation (Colin Tizzard, 10-10, 16-1)
Probably didn’t get the credit he deserved for winning two good races last year (lucky in one of them when Might Bite fell at the last, but still, a good effort) but it all went wrong after. Shaped okay on reappearance over trip too short at Wetherby and handicapper finally cutting him some slack. Could go okay at a price, as early season might be the time to catch him.
Cogry (Nigel Twiston-Davies, 10-0, 18-1)
Looked as fat as butter at Cheltenham (as he had the year before) but it’s the shape he is. Jumped much better there (apart from the last) but always a worry he’ll clout one in these races, and one might be too many. Yard having winners for fun on Saturdays, though.
Pleasant Company (Willie Mullins)
Seems the right people know when this is going to win, as there’s always good money for him when he does (so the market is worth a check). Ninth in the National last year and chances are all roads will lead to there again this season.
Carole’s Destrier (Neil Mulholland, 11-1, 25-1)
Something of a forgotten horse, second in this last year from 6lb lower (went fresh, as he does again this year). Of more concern would be the form of the yard, who are finding winners hard to come by. No surprise if he ran okay, but not for me.
Label Des Obeaux (Alan King, 11-0, 25-1)
Has been quietly going about his business and improving steadily over the last year or so, but tends to get found out in this class and is now looking handicapped to the hilt. Not that hard to look elsewhere.
Missed Approach (Warren Greatrex, 10-6, 25-1)
Boat slow and at times, bone idle, but there’s some talent there as he showed when second to Tiger Roll in the National Hunt Chase at the Festival this year. Wetherby effort may have blown a few cobwebs away, but debatable whether even this represents enough of a test of stamina for him. Blinkers given a try.
Braqueur D’Or (Paul Nicholls, 10-0, 33-1)
Keeps improving and even his defeat to Coole Cody (over hurdles) looks better now. Best form to date has come on quicker ground, however, and he’s up in grade again after a good effort at Ascot last time. Plenty on his plate.
Double Ross (Nigel Twiston-Davies, 10-8, 33-1)
Looked badly in need of the run at Chepstow first time up, so ran well in the circumstances, and early casualty at Sandown next time. Third in this last year and 2lb lower this time around, ground should be fine, yard are having a great time of it on Saturdays, so 33-1 looks a fair price. The sort to have a crack at each-way tomorrow when there’s 5-6 places on offer.
Potters Legend (Lucy Wadham, 10-0, 33-1)
Stays well and went close in the Kim Muir last year, and actually has a pretty reasonable record in this grade (placed four times in these big handicaps). However, can make mistakes and needs a fair bit of driving at times. To that end, a change of headgear and Brian Hughes in the saddle are no bad things. Ground will be fine and any 50-1 on the day and I’m interested.
Southfield Royale (Neil Mulholland, 10-0, 33-1)
Yes, he’s ridiculously well handicapped but he has been for a while and he simply can’t take advantage. Another moderate effort at Wincanton last time and he makes no appeal now.
Bigbadjohn (Rebecca Curtis, 10-5, 40-1)
Has some form at the track but that’s about your barrow as far as plus points go. Thrashed out of sight at Bangor last time, and that hardly bodes well here.
Regal Encore (Anthony Honeyball, 10-11, 50-1)
Another for whom it’s all gone tits up in the past year. He’s not even that well handicapped either, still being some 6lb higher than his Ascot win last year, and it takes some imagination to see him home in front.
Pilgrims Bay (Neil Mulholland, 10-0, 50-1)
Given a peach of a ride by James Best to win the BetBright at Kempton last year but he’s happier on quicker ground and is a bit of a monkey that needs kidding into races. Happy to look elsewhere.
My idea of the three to concentrate on – at the front of the market, American, who I'll admit to having a small ante-post bet on back in April after he won at Uttoxeter (I was very impressed, and that was a monster speed figure he achieved) and at bigger prices, both Double Ross and Potters Legend make plenty of appeal with the extra places.
Today's selection – American 3.00 Newbury
Good luck with all your bets today,