December certainly starts with a bang on the racing front with the race formerly known as the Hennessey Gold Cup lighting up the track at Newbury this coming weekend. Possibly the highest-class handicap run anywhere over the course of the National Hunt season, the roll of honour here is littered with greats of the game. That includes Gold Cup winners, Denman and Native River and Grand National hero, Many Clouds. Who will come out on top this year?
Next Race: TBD
The next renewal of this race has not been scheduled yet. We will update this once the schedule has been released for next season. The race info, trends and tips shown below will be updated for the next renewal once the final declarations have been made.
Last Run: 30th November 2019
- Winner: De Rasher Counter
- SP: 12/1
- Trainer: Emma Lavelle
- Jockey: Ben Jones
3m2f is the trip for this Grade 3 Handicap Chase. Offering £250,000 in guaranteed prize money, the race is one of the most significant contests of its type of the season. The ground at the track is currently described as soft.
|Going||Distance||Grade||Prize Money||Runners||EW Terms|
|Soft||3m2f||Grade 3||£250,000||24 Runners||1/4 1-4|
Ladbrokes Trophy Chase Betting Tips
Note: The following tips are from the last running of the race. Tips for the next renewal will be added once the final declarations have been made.
2018 winner Sizing Tennessee was something of a trends buster in this race, with each of the previous 36 winners having been nine years old or younger. Overall those aged between six and eight years have landed over 75% of the editions to have been run to date.
Considering the pair are annually involved in a battle for the title of Britain’s Top National Hunt Trainer, it isn’t too surprising to see that it is Nicky Henderson and Paul Nicholls who boast the best records of the trainers represented this year, with three wins apiece. Henderson sends four to post for the 2019 renewal, headed by the current favourite, Ok Corral; whilst Nicholls’ sole representative is the ex-Venetia Williams runner, Yala Enki, who will be making his debut for the yard.
This has been a pretty good race for the market leader in recent years, particularly given the big field, competitive nature of the race. Four winning jollies over the past 10 renewals have returned a level stakes profit of 8.75 points.
OK CORRAL – 5/1
As a nine year old, current market leader, Ok Corral, falls just outside the ideal age range for the race, but other than that there’s plenty to like about the JP McManus-owned runner. Boasting rock solid form over the smaller obstacles – including when doing all his best work late to fill second spot in the 2018 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival – hopes were rightly pretty high headed into his debut season over fences last term. The son of Mahler largely delivered, before coming up short in his big target.
A winner of his first two chase starts, the second of which came when bolting up by six lengths in a Listed contest at Warwick, he was then sent to Cheltenham once again for the National Hunt Chase. Only four runners finished what was an absolute slog of a race that day, and Ok Corral wasn’t one of them. Having been repeatedly hampered during the contest, he was wisely pulled up when the cause was lost. The benefit of that run is that the handicapper has seen fit to drop him two pounds, which would look to give him sound claims back down in trip, and with no concerns regarding the ground.
CABARET QUEEN – 8/1
The Irish have claimed top spot just the once in the past 10 years with the victory of the Willie Mullins-trained Total Recall in 2018, and it looks to be Mullins who has the biggest chance amongst the raiding party once again this year. Flying the flag for the Closutton maestro is the seven year old mare, Cabaret Queen.
In common with Total Recall, this ex-Dan Skelton runner heads straight here on the back of a win in the Munster National at Limerick – and a pretty impressive success it was too, as the mount of Paul Townend absolutely hosed up to win by an eased down 13-lengths. Whilst the winning margin may have been slightly exaggerated due to the heavy ground that day, that was still a serious effort on what was just her second start for the yard. Running off a mark of 126 that day, a mark of 146 for this makes life significantly tougher, but it is still hard to rule her out given how much she appeared to have in hand at the line.
MISTER MALARKY – 13/2
Colin Tizzard sent out a famous 1-2 in this race 12 months ago with Sizing Tennessee and Elegant Escape and – operating at an excellent 30% strike rate in the fortnight leading up to the race – the Dorset handler seems to have his string in great nick as he bids to defend his crown. Sizing Tennessee doesn’t go this time around, but Welsh National winner Elegant Escape does return for another crack. He can’t be dismissed given that excellent course and distance form, but it will take some performance to win this off a mark of 160.
The most interesting of the Tizzard runners just might be the six year old, Mister Malarky. Three wins from seven over fences last season, probably the pick of his efforts came when fourth in the RSA Novices’ Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, when finding only Topofthegame, Santini and Delta Work too good. Considering that trio all look set to be targeted at the Gold Cup, there is certainly no shame in that. With a 13-length win at this track to his name in a handicap last season, he makes plenty of appeal running off 150. We do have to forgive a no-show on his seasonal return at Ascot, but he may well have simply needed the run that day, with this race likely to be his major early season target.
DINGO DOLLAR – 14/1
Of those to have taken part in the race 12 months ago, another who looks likely to go well once again is Alan King’s Dingo Dollar. Third behind the aforementioned Colin Tizzard duo in 2018, there are legitimate reasons to suspect that he may fare at least as well – if not better – this time around.
Firstly, the ground was unsuitably soft last year, and whilst that is again the case at the time of writing, there is only minimal rain forecast in the Newbury area in the build up to the race. If the surface were to edge towards good to soft come race day, that would suit the seven year old very well. Secondly, a two pound lower mark this time around ought to bring him closer, and finally, he has the possibility of improvement for the application of a first-time visor. Fit and well from a recent spin over hurdles, he has plenty in his favour in this one.
Ladbrokes Trophy Chase Winners
|2019||De Rasher Counter||12/1||Emma Lavelle||Ben Jones|
|2018||Sizing Tennessee||12/1||Colin Tizzard||Tom Scudamore|
|2017||Total Recall||9/2||Willie Mullins||Paul Townend|
|2016||Native River||7/2||Colin Tizzard||Richard Johnson|
|2015||Smad Place||7/1||Alan King||Wayne Hutchinson|
|2014||Many Clouds||8/1||Oliver Sherwood||Leighton Aspell|
|2013||Triolo D’Alene||20/1||Nicky Henderson||Barry Geraghty|
|2012||Bobs Worth||4/1||Nicky Henderson||Barry Geraghty|
|2011||Carruthers||10/1||Mark Bradstock||Mattie Batchelor|
|2010||Diamond Harry||6/1||Nick Williams||Daryl Jacob|
For 60 years this race went by the name of the Hennessy Gold Cup, this deal with the famous cognac being the longest running commercial sponsorship of any race at the time. The drinks brand finally moved to one side in 2017 though, with Ladbrokes announced as the new sponsors earlier on in the year. The prize money on offer increased immediately as a result with the total purse increasing 25% to £250k, a truly handsome amount for a National Hunt handicap.
Cheltenham initially hosted this race when it was first introduced in 1957 but three years later it moved to its current home of Newbury. It’s long been one of the most popular handicaps to feature on the National Hunt circuit with a decent field regularly taking part. Those that do battle for the lucrative jackpot must tackle 21 fences across a distance of around three miles and two furlongs at Newbury’s left-handed circuit. The race takes place in November or December each year and is open to horses aged four and above.
COVERED IN GOLD
Nine Cheltenham Gold Cup champions have also enjoyed victory this race, sometimes before and sometimes afterwards. The Ladbrokes Trophy is not just a place for well-established names but it also acts as a hunting ground for future stars. Even during the last decade or so you’ve got winners such as Denman, Bobs Worth and Native River.
LADBROKES TROPHY WINNERS IN THE GOLD CUP: 2008 – 2018
|Year||Ladbrokes Trophy winner||Cheltenham Gold Cup Record|
|2018||Sizing Tennessee||Yet to Run|
|2017||Total Recall||Fell (2018)|
|2016||Native River||Winner (2018) , 3rd (2017), 4th (2019)|
|2015||Smad Place||8th (2015), 6th (2016), 8th (2017)|
|2014||Many Clouds||6th (2015)|
|2013||Triolo D’Alene||10th (2014)|
|2012||Bobs Worth||Winner (2013) , 5th (2014), Pulled up (2015)|
|2011||Carruthers||4th (2010), 9th (2011), 10th (2012)|
|2010||Diamond Harry||Pulled up (2012)|
|2009||Denman||Winner (2008) , 2nd (2009, 2010, 2011)|
|2008||Madison du Berlais||8th (2009)|
There’s even a Grand National champion among them too in the form of Many Clouds, who became the first horse ever to win both this race and Aintree’s big handicap. The Gold Cup is the far more usual double though as we can see from the table below. Note that the 2018 winner, Sizing Tennessee, has raced many times at the Festival but the 11 year old hasn’t – yet at least – been entered in Cheltenham’s biggest contest.
RETURN OF LORD OAKSEY
A horse by the name of Taxidermist won the second ever running of this handicap, ridden by a certain amateur jockey, John Lawrence. The name is unlikely to ring a bell but you may recognise him as renowned horsing racing journalist and television commentator, Lord Oaksey.
Over 50 years after securing then Hennessy Gold Cup glory, the two-time British Champion Amateur Jump Jockey secured another success but this time as a breeder and part-owner. Carruthers did the business for him in 2011 for what was perhaps the finest victory for the Oaskey Partnership.
ELDERS STRUGGLE DESPITE TENNESSEE TRIUMPH
Shunning the age trends for this race, Sizing Tennessee became the first winner since 1981 with a double digit age. He was able to fend off his younger rivals that day but it’s a rare sight to see this happen. Horses aged eight and under have long dominated this test considering their rates of participation.
To get an idea of just how much they are over performing, know that over the last 10 renewals, horses under nine-years-old have made up 67% of the field. It’s a significant chunk but they’ve also won all but two (90%) of renewals since 1999, with seven year olds taking 48% of those victories.
BE MY ROYAL STRIPPED OF TITLE
A fine afternoon for Be My Royal in November 2002 ended up being one to forget. On his way to Hennessy Gold Cup glory, jockey David Casey believed he “felt something go” with trainer Willie Mullins later saying the gelding may have suffered a career ending tendon injury.
Although the initial prognosis was slightly off, Be My Royal endured a two-year spell on the sidelines before being transferred to a new trainer. More bad news was to follow for Mullins as in January 2004, the Jockey Club disqualified his horse for testing positive for morphine. It came at a time in which 37 horses tested positive for the substance, an issue believed to have stemmed from a contaminated food supply.