The Ladbrokes Trophy is the feature race on a wonderful card at Newbury this afternoon and it looks a good if not vintage renewal of the old Hennessy as befits the richest handicap of the year outside the Grand National.


The market is headed by Total Recall (5/1) trained by Willie Mullins who has never saddled the winner of this corresponding race although his Be My Royal finished first past the post in the 2002 renewal although he was subsequently disqualified.

The horse won the Munster National in a common canter having his first start for the yard last time, but the handicapper has had his say and he is 19lbs higher this afternoon.

Having backed Singlefarmpayment (3.00) for the race as soon as he finished runner up at Cheltenham on his reappearance back in October I cannot desert Tom George’s seven-year-old although he is creeping up in the weights for running well without winning. The selection is 6/1 and I will be disappointed if he doesn’t run a big race. We are betting 5 places on the race and it will disappoint me if he doesn’t run into a place.

Newbury - Singlefarmpayment

American (6/1) goes well fresh and it is no surprise that Harry Fry has not given the gelding a pipe-opener given he has such a good record when fresh. I was very taken with his defeat of Rock The Kasbah at Uttoxeter on his last start back in the spring but he gives 10lbs to the selection and that may be beyond him.

Cap Soleil (12.10) must give 3lbs to her five rivals in the opening listed mares’ hurdle but I was very impressed with her C&D win here last month and this unbeaten mare of Fergal O’Brien cannot be opposed. The selection is currently 7/1 favourite for the Mares’ Novices Hurdle at the Festival in March and few horses have impressed me in the opening months of the season as the selection.

In the handicap Chase in honour of the late Sir Peter O’Sullivan I am going to side with Nicky Henderson’s Gold Present (1.20) who hasn’t been seen since falling at the Canal Turn in the Topham back in the spring. Henderson suggested the horse was on course to run in the BetVictor Gold Cup but was pulled out at the 48-hour stage to wait for this event and his second in the Novices’ Handicap Chase at Cheltenham back in March is top class form.

In the two-and-a-half-mile handicap hurdle, the each way recommendation is Dino Velvet (1.50) who has hinted that a step up in trip will suit in recent starts. Alan King’s charge only carries 10st and is 2lbs lower than a satisfactory reappearance over two miles at Chepstow.

In the finale, I hope to see a northern winner courtesy of Duke Of Navan (3.35) who may have been in front too soon on his reappearance. The selection hasn’t quite lived up to expectations and is rising ten years of age but he remains lightly-raced in recent years and is entitled to come on for his spin at Aintree.


Cap Soleil

Gold Present

Dino Velvet


Duke Of Navan


In the opener at Doncaster, I think Kalashnikov (12.05) can mow down his rivals, having looked smart when winning on his hurdles debut at Wetherby last month. Likely market rival Irish Prophecy was gifted a soft lead at Sandown when making a winning debut and the hope is that he isn’t allowed too much rope today.

Irish Roe (1.15) isn’t the biggest horse in training but she is a talented mare and she is taken to reverse Wetherby running with William Of Orange on 4lbs better terms. I’m convinced it wasn’t Henry Brooke’s finest hour last time and the drying ground is a plus.

Sumkindofking (2.20) failed to stay 2m 5f at Kempton last time and I was hoping Tom George might drop him to two miles for his next start, but the hope is this 2m 3f will be ideal for this talented horse who has been dropped a pound and Ciaran Gethings takes off a valuable 3lbs.



Irish Roe



I have been looking forward to Lake View Lad step back up in trip at Newcastle but I’m not convinced he is crying out for 3m and he is reluctantly overlooked in favour of Acdc (1.40) who is only 3lbs higher than scoring at Ayr last month.




A terrific card at Fairyhouse on Sunday and I think Apples Jade (1.30) can land the Hatton’s Grace for Gordon Elliot despite the presence of World Hurdler Nichols Canyon in the field. The selection won at last season’s Cheltenham and Punchestown Festivals and receives a 7lbs sex allowance – she could hardly have been more impressive on her reappearance at Navan and is a top class mare.

Death Duty is likely to be all the rage in the Drinmore but I give marginal preference to Rathvinden (2.35) who continues to go from strength to strength over fences and can give Paul Townend a Grade 1 winner in the absence of the injured Ruby Walsh.


Apples Jade


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