Harry Allwood tipped Midnight Shadow (advised at 12-1) in his latest ante-post column and has put each contender in the Ladbrokes Trophy under the microscope plus reveals his fancy for the £250,000 contest, live on Racing TV this Saturday.
There's a strong Irish challenge in this year’s Ladbrokes Trophy, with Willie Mullins and Henry de Bromhead responsible for four of the 21 declared for Saturday’s feature at Newbury, live on Racing TV, inlcuding the two at the head of the market.
Clerk of the Course, Keith Ottesen, has watered the track to maintain good to soft ground, and there is rain forecast on Friday, and ahead of racing on Saturday.
Ottesen has said it would not take much rain for the ground to change, so I expect conditions will be on the slow side of good to soft by the weekend.
Below is a guide to each contender in the £250,000 contest. Best of luck.
Trainer: Willie Mullins. Age: 10. Rating: 158. Best odds: 20-1.
A useful performer, when on a going day, who finished second off a 4lb lower rating when carrying top weight in the Kerry National in September. Has fared creditably behind Galvin in a Grade Three contest since and is versatile ground-wise.
He’s now a ten-year-old and although he has looked as good as ever on his past two starts, he is vulnerable to an improver plus is unlikely to have much in hand off his career-high rating.
Trainer: Henry de Bromhead. Age: 7. Rating: 154. Best odds: 13-2.
Lightly-raced chaser who was still travelling well when unseating his rider in the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase last season and defeated some useful rivals when successful in a Grade Three on his outing before the Cheltenham Festival.
Promises to stay at least this far and has always been held in high regard by connections who believe he has the right profile for this contest. Relishes soft and heavy ground and would not want conditions too quick on Saturday, although he did appear to be effective on the good to soft ground at Cheltenham before he made a blunder.
Jumped well and scored nicely on his return to action which should have primed him for this contest and has the potential to be much better than a rating of 154.
Rachael Blackmore, who is likely to be on board, continues to ride on the crest of a wave having guided A Plus Tard to victory in the Betfair Chase last weekend and Eklat De Rire has to be feared.
Trainer: Jonjo O’Neill. Age: 9. Rating: 154. Best odds: 12-1.
Enjoy a full replay of Cloth Cap's win in last year's Ladbrokes Trophy
Made all and jumped superbly when winning this race by ten lengths off a rating of 136 last year when wearing cheekpieces for the first time. Improved again to score at Listed level after that and while things did not go to plan when he was sent off favourite for the Grand National, he did have wind surgery following that run and shaped as though the outing was needed on his return at Cheltenham in October.
That effort will have blown the cobwebs away and he went with his usual zest until the lack of race fitness took its toll, so it would be no surprise to see a bold show from the front again, despite a career-best effort required off a rating of 154 this year.
Trainer: Willie Mullins. Age: 8. Rating: 154. Best odds: 16-1.
Was highly tried over fences last season but has run well in a couple of competitive handicaps this year, including the Kerry National. Pushed Galvin – who would have needed the run – all the way last time out and that was probably a career-best effort. However, more is needed if he is going to score off a rating of 154 here and his handler holds stronger claims with Ontheropes.
Trainer: Willie Mullins. Age: 7. Rating: 153. Best odds: 4-1.
Failed to get his head in front from his first five starts over fences but returned from a 316-day break to win the Munster National, the same race stablemate Total Recall won in 2017 prior to his victory in the Ladbrokes Trophy.
Will race off a 12lb higher mark on Saturday so more will be required to follow up that victory, although he was well on top at the finish and travelled powerfully throughout the race.
No surprise to see he has attracted support given this has been his long-term aim and he ought to have more to offer for his powerful connections, but I wouldn’t want to back him at any shorter than 4-1 in a race of this calibre, especially as he does need to improve again to score.
Trainer: Colin Tizzard. Age: 7. Rating: 150. Best odds: 5-1.
Fiddlerontheroof showed a good attitude to win the Colin Parker on his seasonal debut
Grade One-winning hurdler who was unlucky to bump into some high-class opponents over fences last season and finished second on five occasions, including behind Monkfish in the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase. Returned with a victory in what looked a useful renewal of the Colin Parker at Carlisle and that outing is likely to have been a prep run for the Ladbrokes Trophy.
Needs to prove he stays this trip but has shown his best form with cut in the ground, so conditions should be ideal for him. Looks to have the right profile for a race of this nature and Colin Tizzard, who has been operating at a strike-rate of 21 per cent in the past fortnight, has his string in much better form this season, so there are plenty of positives for Fiddlerontheroof.
Trainer: Christian Williams. Age: 5. Rating: 149. Best odds: 10-1.
Improved enormously over fences last season and developed into a useful handicap chaser. Looked a shade unlucky not to win the bet365 Gold Cup on his final start of the season where he was badly hampered towards the finish and was also unfortunate not to go closer in the Badger Beers Chase 12 months ago.
Clearly stays well (he’s already a winner over this trip) and is still only five, so there’s a good chance he will improve again this season. He's also matched the best of his form in two starts this year, although was set to be beaten a fair way in the Charlie Hall Chase before Shan Blue fell when clear.
Tends to come off the bridle a long way from home, and his style of racing means he will need things to fall right. The Ladbrokes Trophy test should also suit him and he is sure to be staying on up the straight, but a five-year-old has never won this before.
Trainer: Nicky Henderson. Age: 9. Rating: 149. Best odds: 20-1.
Has endured a number of lengthy absences during his career so has presumably had his problems and has struggled since winning the Summer Cup at Uttoxeter in 2019. Shaped with more promise on his return this season and is now 3lb below his last winning mark. He’s also 9lb lower than when finishing eighth, beaten 22 lengths, in this race two years ago. Comes with risks attached given his inconsistency over the past couple of years, although it would be no surprise to see him run creditably if he can build on his latest outing.
Trainer: Colin Tizzard. Age: 8. Rating: 148. Best odds: 33-1.
Has crept back down the handicap following three below-par runs and is now 2lb below his last winning mark. The pick of his form would give him a chance here, although he isn’t the most consistent and has been unable to land a blow in the past two renewals of the Ladbrokes Trophy (finished sixth in 2019 and unseated his rider just before halfway last year).
A repeat of his victories at Ascot or Kempton last year would give him a squeak, and despite the fact he isn't one to rely on, he’s been given a chance by the handicapper and is no forlorn hope at 33-1.
Trainer: Colin Tizzard. Age: 7. Rating: 148. Best odds: 16-1.
Similar to stablemate Mister Malarky, he is another in this field who arrives with question marks to answer following a string of below-par efforts. He was sent off a 12-1 chance for this contest 12 months ago having impressed in the Reynoldstown Novices’ Chase but made a number of jumping errors before being pulled up. The lack of a recent run is also a concern and while he is only a seven-year-old, he does have a bit to prove on his return to action.
Trainer: Alan King. Age: 8. Rating: 148. Best odds: 12-1.
An overall consistent performer who was awarded the bet365 Gold Cup in the stewards’ room last season. Unseated his rider in this contest a long way from home (was being bustled along at the time) prior to that and was also a touch unlucky not to win the Badger Beers Chase.
Returned with a fine effort in that contest this season, although he doesn’t have much in hand off his rating. Has also shown his best form on good ground, so will not want conditions to get any softer.
Trainer: Paul Nicholls. Age: 7. Rating: 147. Best odds: 11-2.
Enrilo travelled like the best horse in the race in the bet365 Gold Cup before attempting to throw the race away last season
Paul Nicholls seeks his fourth Ladbrokes Trophy victory and has been bullish about Enrilo’s chances since his charge impressed during a workout at a media morning held at Newbury this month.
The champion trainer says this has been the aim for his youngster who was demoted to third having passed the post in front in the bet365 Gold Cup when last seen. However, he shaped like the best horse in that contest as he tanked through the race and had his rivals under pressure a long way from home before effectively throwing the race away on the run in.
That was not the first time he had shown his quirks, and I expect Harry Cobden will aim to deliver him late. He’s won fresh in the past plus was successful at Newbury last season and while the benefit of race fitness is always advantageous, he is improving and looks tailor-made for the Ladbrokes Trophy, so is one for the shortlist.
Trainer: David Pipe. Age: 8. Rating: 146. Best odds: 12-1.
Useful hurdler who created a big impression on his first three starts over fences last season. His successes included the Grade Two Reynoldstown Novices’ Chase where he defeated some useful rivals and it was a shade disappointing he could not be competitive in the National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham Festival. However, he only began to fade on the turn for home there and caught the eye on his return to action at Aintree which was a prep run for this. The only concern with this eight-year-old is whether he needs soft or heavy ground to be seen to best effect, and his chances will be boosted if conditions do deteriorate.
Trainer: Alan King. Age: 8. Rating: 145. Best odds: 33-1.
Showed some useful form in competitive handicaps last season and is now on his last winning mark having finished well beaten on his return at Bangor. Should strip fitter for that outing and deserves his place in this line-up as he’s a chaser who is likely to have more to offer this season. This trip appeared to stretch his stamina at Doncaster last season and needs to prove he stays further than three miles. If he is able to stay the trip, then it wouldn't be a total shock to see him run well.
Trainer: Nigel Twiston-Davies. Age: 8. Rating: 142. Best odds: 20-1.
Finished fourth in this contest 12 months ago off a 2lb higher rating when he got going too late after being held up. Failed to fire on three outings afterwards but continued his good record fresh when narrowly beaten at Cheltenham’s October meeting on his return to action. Cheekpieces replaced the visor there and it was encouraging to see him cruise into contention travelling well. He’s capable of running well again this year, for all he isn’t the easiest to win with, and his jumping can let him down at times.
Trainer: Kerry Lee. Age: 7. Rating: 142. Best odds: 12-1.
Has only had eight starts and was last seen producing a career best behind Remastered in the Reynoldstown, his first start since a wind op. Scored following a 214-day break last year, so the lack of a recent run is not a huge concern, and it’s unlikely we have seen the best of him yet. A bigger concern is that he didn’t jump that well on his previous visit to Newbury and he needs to up his game on the form he has shown so far to land a blow.
Trainer: Venetia Williams. Age: 8. Rating: 140. Best odds: 33-1.
Has proved on two occasions that he is able to show his best fresh, so it is no surprise to see connections aim him at this contest for his seasonal debut and he’s gradually improved over the past couple of seasons. Ran a huge race at big odds when second in the Kim Muir at the Cheltenham Festival and will relish this stamina test. He doesn’t appear to have much in hand on his rating, though, and is likely to prove vulnerable to better handicapped rivals.
Trainer: Henry Daly. Age: 7. Rating: 139. Best odds: 50-1.
Has won five of his ten starts over fences and, bar a couple of below-par runs, has been a consistent performer over the larger obstacles. Looked as though the outing was needed on his return to action and will relish any cut in the ground. However, this is a big step up in class and he will need to raise his game to be competitive in a race of this nature.
Trainer: Gary Moore. Age: 6. Rating: 138. Best odds: 33-1.
One of the youngest in the field and is already a dual winner over fences. Took a keen hold on his first start of the season, and his exertions there should have at least taken the freshness out of him. Has plenty to find on what others in this race have achieved and this is a tough ask at this stage of his career.
Trainer: Ian Williams. Age: 7. Rating: 137. Best odds: 20-1.
Won four of his nine starts last season and was unlucky not to complete a five-timer having fallen prior to winning his final two starts of the campaign. No surprise to see connections aiming higher with their seven-year-old this season and while his seasonal debut at Ascot was laboured, he is likely to fare better with that run under his belt. However, he still needs to improve again to be in the mix.
Trainer: Milton Harris. Age: 8. Rating: 135. Best odds: 20-1.
Has left Paul Nicholls’ yard since his last run and while that isn’t exactly a positive, his new handler is enjoying a successful season and connections will be hoping the change of scenery sparks a revival. He did produce some strong form over fences a couple of seasons ago, with his win in the John Francome Novices’ Chase at this meeting two years ago a notable success. A rating of 135 probably underestimates him based on some of his previous form and while he disappointed last season, he is not without a chance if he can bounce back to his best.
HARRY'S BIG-RACE VERDICT:
Plenty you can make a case for in what is going to a be a typically competitive renewal of the Ladbrokes Trophy. Ontheropes looks short enough at 4-1 given he needs to improve again to score following his rise in the handicap, and the one worth siding with is fellow Irish raider EKLAT DE RIRE for the in-form Henry de Bromhead team.
The seven-year-old is held in high regard and is a best-priced 33-1 for next year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup. If he is going to be aimed at jump racing’s blue riband contest, then he will need to be winning this off his rating of 154. This test should suit him, and it’s unlikely we have seen the best of him.
The only downside to his chances is that he lacks experience in big-field contests, but he ticks plenty of other boxes. At bigger prices, Remastered is not without hope, and his chances would be boosted with any rain that arrives on Friday and Saturday.Simply sign up and deposit (minimum £15) with one of our 15 betting partners, complete the form and we'll send out you the all new Racing TV Christmas Jumper for free.
Select any odd to add a bet