The thrills are going to come thick and fast over the coming days on Racing TV.
One of the biggest handicaps of the year, the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury, nestles neatly in the middle of a wonderful schedule of races.
Future stars and established leading lights will be in action at Newbury and Fairyhouse, while there will also be £100,000 in prize money up for grabs at Carlisle on Sunday.
Below are ten races you cannot afford to miss.
12.40 Newbury: Ladbrokes Committed To Safer Gambling Novices' Chase
This 2m 4f contest has a rich roll of honour with Denman, Bobs Worth, Coneygree, Clan Des Obeaux and Champ all among notable winners in the past 15 years.
Typically, there is a small field but each of the four runners – Tea Clipper, Millers Bank, Pic D’Orhy and Nassalam - are intriguing and the bookmakers have them chalked up between 9-4 and 100-30. The race will take about five minutes to run, but connections of the winner will be able to dream of going to the top for a lot longer.
Alex Hales says he has never trained better than Millers Bank and insists he was merely marking time over hurdles, even though his efforts last season included finishing a close third behind Abacadabras and Buzz in the Aintree Hurdle. Millers Bank impressed when winning on his chasing bow at Huntingdon last month and Hales was swift to nominate this race as his next target.
1.15 Newbury: Ladbrokes "National Hunt" Maiden Hurdle
Nicky Henderson told us more about Jonbon after his winning debut
All eyes will be on Jonbon as Douvan’s little brother, bought for £570,000 as a four-year-old by leading owner JP McManus after an impressive point win, makes his hurdling debut.
Jonbon recouped £5,393 of his price tag when winning a bumper in good style at Newbury in late March and is no bigger than 7-1 to win the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham in March. However, that form looks nothing out of the ordinary and Jonbon is an exuberant type (his trainer describs him as a fidget) who worked himself into quite a sweat when given a solo spin at Newbury’s recent gallops morning. In addition, Nico de Boinville, who partnered him, is now on the sidelines.
Good Risk At All was a smart bumper performer last season, winning at Cheltenham and Newbury, and seems sure to benefit from his hurdling debut at Chepstow. And at big odds, don’t discount Charlie’s Glance from the Martin family. The form of his Newbury bumper win in March is strong.
3.00 Newbury: Ladbrokes Long Distance Hurdle
Paisley Park, winner of the Stayers’ Hurdle in 2019, and Lisnagar Oscar, who took his crown in 2020, are joined in battle by two other Cheltenham Festival winners in Indefatigable and Mrs Milner.
The bookmakers make Paisley Park favourite but he is rising ten and equipped with cheekpieces after hitting an all-too-familiar flat spot when third behind Indefatigable (6lb worse off) at Wetherby last month. Perhaps the headgear will help travel better, perhaps it won’t. He’s a horse I’ve never got right over the years, laying him when he’s won and backing him when he’s got beat. Some horses are like that, aren’t they?
Mrs Milner has plenty to find on ratings but last season’s Pertemps Hurdle winner strikes me as being the one arriving on the up. And as she’s usually races somewhere near the pace, this may develop well for her tactically. And as the first five races on the card will be won by British-trained runners, the Irish will be overdue a winner.
12.40 Newbury: Ladbrokes John Francome Novices' Chase
Native River, Thistlecrack, Elegant Escape, Santini and Next Destination have been among the past six winners. What links them all? Answer: abundant stamina.
Let’s hope here is deemed enough give underfoot for Ahoy Senor to run. There was no fluke about the way he galloped Bravemansgame and Oscar Elite into submission in the Grade One Sefton Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree in April and there was plenty to like about the way he jumped over an inadequate 2m4f at Carlisle until he and Derek Fox parted company after two out.
Ashtown Lad looked a rugged stayer when winning at on his return at Wetherby, while Mr Incredible travels over from the yard of Henry de Bromhead and will be ridden by Miss Incredible, Rachael Blackmore.
3.00 Newbury: Ladbrokes Trophy Chase (Handicap)
The only entry scratched at the overnight stage was the top-weight, Chris’s Dream, leaving a final field of 21 to go to post for a £250,000 contest which is always one of the great sporting spectacles of the year. Twenty of them are nine or younger, with second-season chasers boasting untapped potential at every turn.
Cloth Cap was an exhilarating all-the-way winner last year and will seek to emulate three greats of the game – Mandarin, Arkle and Denman – by becoming a two-time winner, but he’s 18lb higher in the ratings than 12 months ago.
Denman won off marks of 161 and 174, plus was a gallant third off 182 in 2010 when the bulk of his rivals, including the winner, Diamond Harry, carried 10st. We haven’t got a horse of his ilk in the line-up, or have we? Eklat De Rire, who runs off 158, represents De Bromhead and Blackmore and fits into the “could be anything” category after a highly promising start to his chasing career.
9am: Replay of the Japan Cup
Look out for a full replay, plus reaction, to the great race during Luck On Sunday. No European challenger has since Alkaased triumphed for Luca Cumani and Frankie Dettori in 2005 but the 18-runner field will feature two Aidan O’Brien-trained runners in the shape of Broome and Japan.
This is a rare big race that has eluded O’Brien but Broome, in particular, looks a strong contender after his near-miss in the Breeders’ Cup Turf, when he had victory snatched away from him by the dramatic late surge of Yibir.
Japan will have plenty of running to do from stall 18 if he is to land the first prize of more than £2 million that is up for grabs. Contrail, winner of the Japanese Triple Crown last year, will be favourite.
1.05 Fairyhouse: BARONERACING.COM Royal Bond Novice Hurdle
Murphy talks about the exciting Impervious
The first of three Grade One races at Fairyhouse on Sunday, with nine of the past 11 renewals landed by runners trained by either Willie Mullins (six wins during that time) and Gordon Elliott.
Mighty Potter, unbeaten in two starts, and Three Stripe Life, fourth in the Champion Bumper and a Fairyhouse winner on his hurdling bow, look the principal players for Elliott, while Mullins’ entries include Statuaire, unbeaten in two starts for him after beginning her career in France.
This is far from being all about Elliott and Mullins, though, with Impervious (Colm Murphy) and My Mate Mozzie (Gavin Cromwell) both looking exciting recruits to hurdling.
1.35 Fairyhouse: BARONERACING.COM Drinmore Novice Chase
The Drinmore is often won by a quality performer with Don Cossack, Delta Work, Fakir D’Oudairies and Envoi Allen being among recent winners.
Beacon Edge, fourth in the Stayers’ Hurdle last season, stands out on hurdling form, but he was beaten fair and square by Lifetime Ambition when the pair made their respective chasing debuts at Down Royal last month and may require an extra half-mile or so to be seen to best advantage.
Lifetime Ambition, trained by Jessie Harrington, was something of a slow-burner over hurdles but he looked a different proposition over the larger obstacles, jumping nimbly and having Beacon Edge’s measure a little way out. There is substance to the form, too, with Vanillier, the Albert Bartlett winner, back in third and a subsequent Grade Two winner at Punchestown.
1.45 Carlisle: Houghton Mares' Chase
Willie Mullins’ main focus on Sunday will be at Fairyhouse but this Listed prize has not escaped his attention.
He’s entered the classy Elimay, runner-up the stablemate Colreevy in a gripping Mares’ Chase at the Cheltenham Festival before going one better at Fairyhouse the following month.
The gorgeous grey will be hard to beat, although Annie Mc, herself a smart performer and officially only 7lb inferior, should ensure she doesn’t have things all her own way.
2.40 Fairyhouse: BARONERACING.COM Hatton's Grace Hurdle
Honeysuckle had little to spare last year
Last, but certainly not least. The all-conquering Honeysuckle will be a short price to win this for a third successive year and extend her unbeaten sequence to 13.
Henry de Bromhead’s mare used this race as a stepping stone to glory in the Irish Champion Hurdle, Champion Hurdle and Paddy Power Champion Hurdle last season, and it is not difficult to imagine her having a similar campaign after the decision to resist switching to fences.
The one ray of light for those taking her on is that she only scrambled home in last year’s running, beating Ronald Pump (set to reoppose her) by a diminishing half-a-length with Beacon Edge only another head away in third.
First time up might be the best time to try and lower her colours but, like all champions, Honeysuckle generally finds a way to get the job done.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.
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