Native River, Smad Place, Many Clouds, Bobs Worth, Denman, One Man, Arkle…..
The Ladbrokes Trophy is one of my favourite races of the year. In recent years, it has had an illustrious role of honor- Native River went on to win the Gold Cup after winning this in 2016, Many Clouds was the first horse to do the double with this race and the Grand National in 2014 and 2015 respectively and who can forget Denman who won this twice, separated by a win in the 2008 Gold Cup. My favourite renewal of them all, though, was when my most favourite racehorse ever Smad Place won the 2015 renewal by twelve lengths going away. Let’s hope for another electric performance like that this year….
The field is made up of just thirteen runners after Kemboy got taken out due to issues about traveling him from Ireland. It is a bit of a shame that the field size is so small but there are some really nice horses taking part; just probably not of the class of recent winners.
Elegant Escape fought out a few finishes with Black Corton last year including in the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase when the latter won in very good style. The last time that horse won in a handicap he went off a mark of 135 over hurdles and later got beaten on his only other start in handicap company off top weight. I think he is a bit too high as he will have to carry top weight, 2lbs higher than Elegant Escape. The placings reversed between the two of them in the RSA at Cheltenham when Elegant Escape was third, three lengths ahead of fifth placed Black Corton. They then finished in that order again behind Terrefort and Ms Parfois at Aintree.
Elegant Escape is the preferred in the betting. He won an intermediate chase in decent style, beating Thomas Patrick, who’s yard is in excellent form. Tom Lacey’s gelding won his first chase at Chepstow in February and then ran in the Devon National when he was a credible fourth against seasoned opponents. He won a three mile one chase after that and then a grade three in April. He is 5lbs better off with Elegant Escape and was only beaten a half length when they last met so it wouldn’t be surprising if he reversed the placings.
MS PARFOIS is one of my favourite horses in training. She was so consistent last season winning three novice chases including ones in listed company. She was then second behind Black Corton in a grade two, second in the four miler at Cheltenham and second in the Grade One Mildmay ahead of Elegant Escape and Black Corton. She stays all day and has won a chase round here before. The only downside to her chances is that she hasn’t had the benefit of a recent run but her jockey is in good form and gets weight from her main challengers.
American is another horse who was campaigned quite highly last season. After being pulled up in this twelve months ago, he was second in the Cotswold Chase and then ninth in the Cheltenham Gold Cup. He would like soft ground and also hasn’t had a recent run so that could be an issue.
Dingo Dollar is following a similar preparation into this race to what Smad Place did and Alan King seemed optimistic for the gelded son of Golden Lariat’s chances. He is only six and has ran eleven times. He won two novice chases last season beating Scottish National winner Joe Farrell. He was fourth in his comeback run over hurdles and will be primed for this.
Sizing Tennessee and West Approach represent Colin Tizzard who won this two years ago with Native River. Neither of these seem at his standard. The former won nicely over two miles five on his reappearance. Last season, he was third in the four miler behind Ms Parfois so has a bit to find but has won at this trip before. West Approach is a half brother to Thistlecrack but is no where near as classy. We have seen him twice this season and he wasn’t brilliant on either. He has very little weight to carry but will struggle.
The Young Master is my each way selection. He has a bit to find on official ratings as he is only rated 135 but, because of this, he has a perfect weight. (The same as last year’s winner Total Recall) He has won twice already this season at Chepstow and Cheltenham. He goes off anow unchanged mark despite an eight length win and he stays well.
Go Conquer and Flying Angel have already been out this season. The former was a good third in the Sodexo Gold Cup over two miles seven. His only try at this trip was at the Cheltenham Festival in 2017, when he finished ahead of The Young Master, finishing fifth. Flying Angel was sixth in the Old Roan on his reappearance then stayed on well to be second at Ascot last time. This grey Arcadio gelding won a grade one in his novice chasing days so isn’t short of ability.
Allysson Monterg won well on his most recent start and goes well fresh. For an eight year old, he is quite lightly raced. Beware The Bear won a Listed race at Newcastle this weekend last year but struggled since and will need to step up. He goes well fresh and has had a wind-op since.
Ms Parfois and The Young Master (EW)