By Harry Allwood
The racing looks set to be top class at the two-day Ladbrokes Winter Carnival over the next couple of days with the Ladbrokes Trophy Chase, formerly the Hennessy, being the highlight. Here are five horses to keep an eye on, including one in the £250,000 showpiece.
Horse: Hello George
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Race: Ladbrokes Handicap Hurdle (3.35 Friday) General odds: 8-1
Has clearly had injury problems throughout his career but is a useful performer and gained a deserved victory when he bolted up in a competitive handicap hurdle at Newbury in March over an extended 2m4f.
The eight-year-old ran an eye-catching race on his seasonal debut when second to Kris Spin at Ayr, which was his first start over three miles, and should strip fitter for that run.
Although he is now rated 12lb higher than for his Newbury win, he is still lightly raced for his age and remains unexposed over this trip. Soft ground is also a positive and he can continue to make up for lost time.
Horse: Gold Present
Race: Sir Peter O'Sullevan Memorial Handicap Chase (1.20 Saturday) Odds: --
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Having bolted up on his seasonal reappearance at Doncaster last November, Gold Present looked unlucky not to gain at least another victory.
He finished second in the Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival and was travelling well when he took an unfortunate fall in the Topham at Aintree a month later.
The seven-year-old clearly goes well fresh and a big-field handicap suits the son of Presenting as he tends to race keenly.
Gold Present has a rating of 142, which looks lenient, and hr is relatively lightly raced for his age. There should be more to come from him this season.
Horse: High Bridge
Race: Ladbrokes Intermediate Hurdle (2.25 Saturday) Odds: 6-1
Having shown useful form in bumpers, High Bridge quickly turned into an exciting novice hurdler last season and completed a hat-trick of wins before he finished down the field in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.
The form of his seasonal debut, when he finished third to Elgin, has worked out extremely well as three of the first five home have since won competitive handicaps.
His trainer, Ben Pauling, has been operating at a strike rate of 33 per cent in the past fortnight and amateur rider Alex Ferguson, who takes 7lb off, is 4-6 aboard the six-year-old.
High Bridge now has a career high mark of 145 to contend with but is entitled to improve fitness wise from Ascot and he is also unbeaten in two starts at Newbury.
Race: Ladbrokes Trophy Chase (3.00 Saturday). Odds: 8-1
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The well-backed Singlefarmpayment is one of my horses to follow this season and has enjoyed the perfect preparation for one of the highlights of the season.
The seven-year-old, who is versatile ground-wise, ran a respectable race when he finished second off a rating of 146 in a competitive handicap chase at Cheltenham in October and that run should have put him spot on for this Grade Three contest.
When speaking to Racing UK on This Racing Life about that run,his trainer Tom George said: “That would have brought him on enormously, both physically and mentally, and this race [Ladbrokes Trophy Chase] has been our big target all summer.”
Singlefarmpayment has been raised 1lb for his comeback effort but still looks well handicapped with the likelihood of further improvement on the cards.
Horse: Zamdy Man
Race: Ladbrokes Handicap Chase (3.35 Saturday). Odds: 11-1
Disappointed in the Close Brothers Chase at Cheltenham on his final start last season but had been in good form before that when he won back-to-back novice chases.
He shaped as though the run was needed when he finished fifth in a Listed handicap chase on his seasonal debut at Wetherby and the drop back down to two miles is sure to suit him. Newbury should play to his strengths and soft ground will also be ideal for him.
He has shown his best form in small-field races, but he looks nicely treated off 137 and is worth chancing in what looks a wide-open contest with his yard back among the winners.
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