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Ladbrokes Trophy Tips: Play two against the field

Some top-class performers have won the Ladbrokes Trophy over the years, including Native River.
Some top-class performers have won the Ladbrokes Trophy over the years, including Native River.

Nick Seddon takes a look at Saturday’s Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury, and picks out two horses who look worth siding with against the field…

Forever known as the Hennessy Gold Cup to the majority of us, the Ladbrokes Trophy has a firm habit of producing a top-class staying chaser, producing three Gold Cup winners (Denman, Bobs Worth and Native River) and one Grand National winner (Many Clouds) this century. 

It remains to be seen whether a star is lurking in this year’s line-up, though one thing that's for certain is that this 18-runner affair is one of the most open renewals of the race in living memory - with no less than nine horses trading at 10/1 or shorter at the time of writing. 

There’s healthy profit to be made if you’re able to find the winner, and a good starting point is with the weights - as it generally requires a high-class performer to defy a big mark in such a competitive affair. Indeed, only two horses have carried more than 11-06 to victory this century (Denman and Trabolgan), meaning each of BallyopticVinndicationBeware The Bear and Secret Investor face tough tasks at the weights. 

The first-named is a very smart performer on his day, as he showed when defying a big mark in the Swinley Chase at Ascot in February, but he struggled in last month’s Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby and his mark looks too high - a comment which also applies to last year’s fourth Beware The Bear, who takes his chance off the same figure here but will need to be at his best on return from a 322-day absence. 

Both Secret Investor and Vinndication are well found in the market, and the latter is the 6/1 favourite after producing a fine effort to finish two lengths behind Cyrname at Wetherby last month. He’s capable of producing performances off huge weights, as he showed when fourth in the Ultima in March, and although he’ll arrive here fit, others make more appeal.

Meanwhile, the Paul Nicholls camp are bullish about the claims of Secret Investor after a hugely impressive win on reappearance at Chepstow last month, when defeating the reopposing Potterman by seven lengths, but he will need more off a career high mark, and he looks worth taking on. 

One runner who appeals as being on a much more competitive mark is The Conditional. He's done nothing but improve since switching to the David Bridgwater team last season, and having finished a fine second in this 12 months ago, he's since gone on to win the Ultima at the Festival - defeating the reopposing Kildisart by a neck. He exploited a very attractive looking mark of 139 that day, and still appeals as one who's competitively weighted here off a revised mark of 147.

The Conditional's jumping cost him for win purposes on a couple of occasions last year, but he looked much more the finished article at the Festival, and there's reasons to believe that more improvement could be forthcoming yet. With that in mind, he looks worth siding with to prove himself a classy sort by taking this. 

Four who are at the head of the market are Kildisart, Aye Right, Black Op and Copperhead, each of whom are trading at single-figure prices at the time of writing. The first-named is a smart performer on his day, and he took advantage of his slipping mark to finish a fine second at the Festival in March. He'll arrive here fit after a fine run over timber on reappearance last month, but looks under the grip of the handicapper after a 5 lb rise, while the talented Copperhead has failed to complete on his last two outings - including in the same Wetherby race as Kildisart last time - and has something to prove here, for all that he could be competitively weighted. 

Black Op twice placed in Graded company as a novice last season, and is another who could be on a competitive mark on handicap debut, but will need more than his tame reappearance at Carlisle last month, while Aye Right ran with plenty of credit in last month's Charlie Hall, but faces a career high mark here.

Another available at a competitive price is Two For Gold, who was a Grade 2 winner as a novice last year. He ran with plenty of credit over a shorter on reappearance at Wetherby races last month, and still looks to be on a competitive mark after a 2 lb rise. He's certainly not out of the reckoning now returned to three miles, while Mister Malarky is an out and out stayer, but looks high enough in the weights at present. 

Instead, it also looks worth siding with Cloth Cap in the famous Trevor Hemmings silks. He sneaks into the race off a mark of 136, one that's 2 lb lower than when finishing third behind Frodon at Cheltenham in October. He's lightly-raced for an eight-year-old, but he's clearly talented, and it's difficult not to think that his current mark underestimates him - particularly when you remember his effort to finish third in the 2019 Scottish Grand National. Receiving weight from the field, he'd be one to seriously consider if running to his best, and having shaped well on reappearance at Cheltenham last month, he's fancied to build on that by producing a big run here. 


Ladbrokes Trophy, Newbury, Saturday 28th November - back The Conditional at 8/1

Ladbrokes Trophy, Newbury, Saturday 28th November - back Cloth Cap at 11/1

Ladbrokes Trophy
The Conditional silk

The Conditional

Ladbrokes Trophy
Cloth Cap silk

Cloth Cap

2021 Cheltenham Festival
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