Getting ready for one of the best races of the year....

Last Updated: 26.11.2019

Tuesday, 26th November 2019

Getting ready for one of the best races of the year….

We’ve got a real treat this weekend – one of the top races on the programme and one of my personal favourite betting heats of the year….

The Ladbrokes Trophy Chase (formerly the Hennessy Gold Cup) is a Grade 3 chase handicap contested over Newbury’s extended 3m2f trip and 21 fences – and is open to horses aged 4yo+….

Eight horses have won this race en route to winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March – Bobs Worth (2012) & Denman (2008) the two most recent examples. 2014 winner, Many Clouds, went on to win that season’s Grand National….

We had a look at the race last week. And I’m playing up some of my recent winnings on an intended runner at a big price….

But there’s a little more to say and more to extract from the long-term record….

  • The big boys….

The historic record draws attention to a quartet of trainers with a better record of success in the race than the opposition….

Of course, past success is no guarantee of future performance. But whatever theses trainers send into the race this year is well worth giving the onceover to….

Paul Nicholls has thrown a few runners at this race over the last 19 years – 38 to be exact. Those runners have produced 3 winners and 9 additional placed finishers….

This time around Yala Enki – on what would be his first start for the yard – looks the sole representative. The stout stayer is an interesting addition to the Nicholls team at 9-years-old. Previously with Venetia Williams, he’s a six-time chase winner with the highlight probably boiling down to the win in last season’s Grand National trial at Haydock….

On a  mark of 155 you couldn’t accuse the horse of being well-handicapped. But he is a quality campaigner – 7th  in the Gold Cup at Cheltenham in March – and Bryony Frost has been booked for the rider very early doors.

Nicky Henderson has perhaps done a little better than Nicholls – producing 3 winners and 5 placed finishers from just 22 runners over the same period….

He’s four-handed in the race right now. Beware The Bear was 4th in the race last term off 148. He’ll be 10lbs higher this time thanks to two wins in good races at Cheltenham….

On the Blind Side is another possible. He was 4th in the Sodexo Gold Cup at Ascot last time – without really landing a blow on the principals. He’s still learning the game….

  • At the top of the market….

Henderson also has the race favourite Ok Corral. He believes the JP McManus horse has the ‘right profile’ for the race….

Whether he does or he doesn’t, I won’t be backing him. He’s already short enough for my tastes at 6s in the ante-post market….

But that’s just my take and you should be aware that the market has done okay in this race over the years – with 14 of the last 22 winners backed into top 3 positions in the betting at the off….

Just six winners over the period were sent off at double-figure SPs. That’s not a great stat for a value-seeker like me….

But contrarians should take heart from the fact that 29 of the last 52 horses to make the frame in the Ladbrokes were sent off at double-figure prices….

  • The coming man & Pond House….

The stats suggest Colin Tizzard is the coming man in the race with 2 winners and 3 places from 10 runners to date….

He had the first two home last year, though I’m not convinced that was a great renewal….

But you still have to get them ready to do the business against some of the top staying handicap chasers in training and Tizzard has proved adept at that task….

His squad is potentially four-handed this time around, but reports coming out of the yard suggest that Mister Malarkey and Robinsfirth are the two that have been specifically readied for this weekend’s Newbury assignment…. 

David Pipe’s last dozen runners produced a single win and 3 placed finishes. His Daklondike – who produced an encouraging enough season debut at Newbury earlier this month – is a possible runner for Pond House this time around….

  • Onto the bloodlines….

We’ve already talked about the progeny of Presenting in this race – but it bears repeating with Yorkhill and Joe Farrell both still possible runners….

The last 14 runners sired by Presenting that ran in a Ladbrokes Trophy Chase produced 2 winners and 4 additional placed horses. Another runner finished 5th….

You might not consider those stats anything special. But in the contest of a top chase handicap that always attracts a big field, those figures are outstanding.

Old Vic’s last 6 runners have produced 3 places. Nothing goes for him this time….

But the veteran Carole’s Destrier does go once again for Kayf Tara whose record with runners reads 1 win and 3 places from nine….

  • That profile in full….

In last week’s piece I quoted the statistical highlights from the historic record of the race….

One or two readers wrote in asking for more detail. Fair enough. Happy to oblige for a race of this stature and importance….

Find below the stats and key pointers produced by the last 22 renewals of the Ladbrokes Trophy Chase in order of relative strength….

Key Pointers

  • All 22 previous winners had won at least 2 chases
  • 21 had raced 4 or more times over fences
  • 20 had won a chase at 24f to 26f
  • 18 had a chasing strike rate of 30%+ (16 were operating at 40%+)
  • 19 were aged 6- to 8-years-old
  • 19 had raced no more than 20 times in total (whatever the code)
  • 20 had won or finished 2nd in at least one of last two chases contested
  • 19 scored an RPR of 146+ last time out
  • 19 had won just one handicap chase – or none
  • 18 had raced no more than 12 times over fences
  • 19 had a Dosage Profile with a CD figure ranging from -0.90 to 0.36. You can get the figures for this year’s runners here
  • 17 had scored career-best chasing RPR at 24f to 27f
  • 18 had scored an RPR of 150+ over fences at 24f to 27f (incl. all last 14 winners)
  • 18 had a winning strike rate of 33%+ over fences at 24f to 26f
  • 16 had run previously at Newbury – over fences or hurdles
  • 18 were bred in Ireland or Great Britain
  • 13 had Newbury form over fences (all producing a top 3 finish)
  • All the last 14 winners were rated 145+ on the official scale
  • 13 of the last 15 winners had scored an RPR of 156+ over fences
  • 13 of the last 15 winners had scored 134+ on the Topspeed scale (8 had scored 144+)
  • 11 of the last 14 winners had contested a G1 or G2 chase of some sort (7 producing a win)
  • 11 of the last 14 winners had contested at least one chase worth £70k+ to the winner (8 producing a top 4 finish) 

Horses that measure up well to a broad range of the key stats can be considered ‘live’ contenders for Saturday’s race….

And – if you can get them at a price – even better….

  • A final word….

This week’s Newbury meeting is not just about the one race. There are several decent handicaps run across Friday and Saturday....

And there are potentially one or two interesting way of playing those races....

We’ll get on to a bit of that tomorrow....

Until then. Stay tuned.

Nick Pullen

Against the Crowd