You need to take a deep breath before having a play in the race because the maximum field of 24 features contenders from all the biggest yards – Mullins, Elliott, Nicholls, Henderson, Tizzard and Skelton –and there are second-season chasers at every turn.
Ok Corral and Cabaret Queen head the market, and you can understand why. The former remains unexposed and a mark of 151 may underestimate him, while the latter looked transformed when taking apart the Munster National field at Limerick last time.
You can also find flaws in both, though, and given the depth to the race, I want to look beyond them. Instead, I will be splitting my stakes each-way on Daklondike, who is a general 33-1, and Yala Enki, available at 25-1. Plenty of firms, including the sponsors, are offering five places.
The scattering of letters in Daklondike’s form figures will deter some and he clearly has one or two of his own ideas about the game, but last season’s battling Tommy Whittle winner also has many of the attributes needed for this famous race and he was a big eye-catcher when splitting Diablo De Rouhet and Dingo Dollar in a 3m handicap hurdle at Newbury this month.
Tom Scudamore gave him a most considerate reintroduction, smuggling him gently into contention from off the pace and then not being overly hard on him when it was clear the improving Henderson-trained winner was not going to be for catching. He probably needs riding with kid gloves but that run should have put him in a good place, mentally and physically, for this assignment.
We know he jumps and stays, plus he is versatile regards the ground and has a nice weight. I’m also pleased that David Pipe has again left off the hood he wore on several occasions last term, because he operated well without it last time. Indeed, it could be that removing the headgear has had a liberating effect.
Yala Enki is more exposed than most, but he’s a smart stayer on his day and a switch of stable since last season – he’s moved from Venetia Williams to Paul Nicholls – and a wind operation make him of interest.
His close third to Elegant Escape in the Welsh Grand National last season puts him bang in the picture, not least because he will be 8lb better off with the winner, who is about half his price.
Usually ridden up near the pace, I can see him getting into a good rhythm under Bryony Frost, who rides him for the first time. He lacks a recent run, but he won first time up last season and was among those to have a workout at the track recently.
Overall, Henderson has 13 runners at the track and he will be hoping Newcastle passes an inspection so that Buveur D’Air can again strut his stuff in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle.
I like both of the trainer’s runners in the Get Your Ladbrokes £1 Free Bet Today Handicap Hurdle (12.50) and found it hard to choose between them until seeing that one, Downtown Getaway, is chalked up at a best-priced 6-1 by William Hill, and the other, Soul Emotion, is quoted at 12-1 by the same firm.
At those prices, the bigger bet has to be the latter because he looked exciting when winning his first two races in Britain, both at Sandown, before finishing a close fifth to Paisley Park in the JLT Hurdle (was the Long Walk Hurdle) at Ascot.
He did not quite get home that day – he traded at about 5-2 in-running early in the straight when still on the bridle – and collapsed after the race, casting some doubt over his future.
Soul Emotion returns in much shallower waters over a shorter trip having had a wind op, plus a mark of 150 may well underplay him. I’ll have a saver on Downtown Getaway, the stable No 1 on jockey bookings, because he was a useful novice and the handicapper looks to have taken a chance in allotting him a mark of 131.
Henderson’s Floressa will take some beating in the opener but she’s only 5-4 and so I’ll pass on her and instead back the stable’s Whatswrongwithyou in the Ladbrokes Handicap Chase (3.40) at 9-1 with the sponsors.
He’s well-named given all the issues he has had but has shown plenty of ability – he beat stablemate OK Corral one occasion at Newbury over hurdles – and is 3lb lower than when seventh in the Grand Annual at Cheltenham in March. He looked to have been laid out for that contest but was always playing catch-up after making a mess of the first fence.
Whatswrongwithyou has had a wind operation since last season and I don’t imagine he will lack for fitness.
Finally, Jerrysback is well worth a punt at 6-1 in the Sir Peter O'Sullevan Memorial Handicap Chase (1.15).
The lightly-raced seven-year-old makes his handicap bow off 145 and that looks lenient given that he gave Vinndication a decent race on level weights in a Grade Two contest at Ascot last winter. The winner is rated 160 after his emphatic victory in this month’s Sodexo Gold Cup.
Jerrysback did not stay when third in the 4m National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham in March, but performed wonders to even get competitive after getting shuffled back around halfway.
How To Bet £20 on Ladbrokes Trophy Chase Day at Newbury:
1.15: Jerrysback £5 win at 6-1 with Ladbrokes and BetVictor
1.50 Soul Emotion £3 win at 12-1 with William Hill
1.50 Downtown Getaway £1.50 win at 6-1 with William Hill
3.00 Daklondike £2.50 each-way at 33-1 with SkyBet and BoyleSports (both firms offer six places)
3.40 Whatswrongwithyou £2.50 win at 9-1 with Ladbrokes
60p Each-Way Lucky Fifteen and a £1 each-way fourfold on. Preferably, place bet with SkyBet, who offer extra places in most races.
1.15: Jerrysback (SyBet offer five places)
1.50 Soul Emotion
3.00 Daklondike (SyBet offer six places places)
3.40 Whatswrongwithyou (SyBet offer four places)
Select any odd to add a bet