The Ladbrokes Trophy ensures November ends with a bang on the racing front with the race formerly known as the Hennessey Gold Cup lighting up the track at Newbury.
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?
Ladbrokes Trophy Chase Past Winners
|2020||Cloth Cap||9/1||Jonjo O'Neill||Tom Scudamore|
|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|
About the Ladbrokes Trophy
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 between 2017 and 2019, 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.
Dual Ladbrokes Trophy and Cheltenham Gold Cup Winners: 1957 – 2020
|Horse||Trainer||Ladbrokes Trophy Win(s)||Gold Cup Win(s)|
|Native River||Colin Tizzard||2016||2018|
|Bobs Worth||Nicky Henderson||2012||2013|
|Denman||Paul Nicholls||2007, 2009||2008|
|Burrough Hill Lad||Jenny Pitman||1984||1984|
|Arkle||Tom Dreaper||1964, 1965||1964, 1965, 1966|
|Mill House||Fulke Walwyn||1963||1963|
|Mandarin||Fulke Walwyn||1957, 1961||1962|
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 above. 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 70% of the field. It’s a significant chunk but they’ve also won all but one (90%) of renewals in that time, with eight year olds taking 40% 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.
2002 Hennessy Gold Cup First Ten Finishers
|Disqualified||Be My Royal||Willie Mullins||David Casey||33/1||–|
|1||Gingembre||Lavinia Taylor||Andrew Thronton||16/1||+ ½ length|
|2||Harbour Pilot||Noel Meade||Paul Carberry||11/1||+ 1½ lengths|
|3||Whitenzo||Paul Nicholls||Ruby Walsh||25/1||+ 2½ lengths|
|4||Hussard Collonges||Peter Beaumont||Russ Garritty||9/1||+ 1 length|
|5||Carbury Cross||Jonjo O’Neill||Seamus Durack||33/1||+1 length|
|6||Gunther McBride||Philip Hobbs||Richard Johnson||12/1||+ 2½ lengths|
|7||Frosty Canyon||Paul Webber||Tom Doyle||14/1||+ 7 lengths|
|8||Marlborough||Nicky Henderson||Mick Fitzgerald||12/1||+ 2½ lengths|
|9||Give Over||Edward Hales||Davy Russell||20/1||+ 1¼ lengths|
|10||Lord Noelie||Henrietta Knight||Jim Culloty||33/1||+ 5 lengths|