The £250,000 Ladbrokes Trophy is one of the biggest betting races of the jumps season. In recent years some good value winners have taken this race, though they never seem to be too far down the betting list as the cream tends to rise in this event.
With conditions looking good, the proven form should come to the fore and with that in mind, these are our shortlisted runners:
Jonjo O’Neill’s runner had a brilliant campaign last time around. Winner of this race in great style, he was subsequently imperious at Kelso before going off as short as 11/2 favourite for the Grand National in which he was ultimately pulled up.
Once again, he’s blown the cobwebs away at Cheltenham first – third to Frodon last season and fourth to Definite Plan this – with all looking set fair for another big run. He’s 18lbs higher than when winning the race twelve months ago, but he’s improved a fair chunk and is still a live contender.
Winner of three of his 6 chase races, Copperhead has obvious talent but hasn’t had the greatest of luck so far having had some interruptions to his training.
Two seasons ago, Colin Tizzard’s horse won three in a row before heading to the Cheltenham Festival, falling in the RSA Chase. He returned in this very race last season, but was pulled up having never travelled and hasn’t been seen over the larger obstacles since.
In theory, natural improvement would bring him into major contention here and he had to make our list, though one would be taking a bit of a chance on him showing his very best which will be needed.
Eklat De Rire
There’s been talk of a bit of a plot involving this horse, and he has certainly been well backed all week. The headlines are that Eklat De Rire is a young chaser with tons of improvement to come, is 3 from 4 over fences, is trained by Henry De Bromhead and ridden by Rachael Blackmore so there is little to dislike on paper.
His form isn’t just good on paper though, it really is quality. For all we know, but for falling behind Monkfish at the Cheltenham Festival he could be coming into this unbeaten and we can upgrade his latest success too.
That win came on his seasonal debut at Wexford four-and-a-half weeks ago. Having jumped well, which is the key thing about him, he eventually pulled 4½ lengths clear of Conflated but was clearly tired on the heavy ground.
He’d have gone further clear on a better surface, which he has here, has wisely been given plenty of time to get over that and is more than likely to have improved further since then meaning he could make a mockery of his official rating of 154.
Another contender for Colin Tizzard, Fiddlerontheroof won nicely at Carlisle last time over 2½ miles but as a runner-up to Monkfish in the Brown Advisory he should really appreciate this three-and-a-quarter-mile trip.
Further improvement is needed off 150 but that mark isn’t necessarily beyond him and he has an each-way chance.
Amazingly, Willie Mullins’ Ontheropes has been even better backed that Eklat De Rire this week. On inspection of his form, we can see why.
The form of his second to Monkfish at Fairyhouse last year is excellent, not because of the winner who was in a different league, but because of the subsequent form of the three horses finishing immediately behind Ontheropes.
He comes into this on the back of a win and, assuming further progression, is a big danger to all.
February’s Grade 2 Reynoldstown Novices’ win and March’s fifth at the Festival mark David Pipe’s Remastered out as a good horse.
He can jump and stay alright; the key questions though lie around whether off 146 he has enough in the tank to see off a number of potentially very well handicapped rivals.
A cracking race in prospect. Cloth Cap, despite his rise in the weights, remains a horse of serious potential over trips such as this and has a genuine chance of doubling-up in the contest.
It’s hard to ignore the case put forward by Ontheropes for Willie Mullins and Cheveley Park too, but even he may find it hard to live with EKLAT DE RIRE if he absolutely fires for the brilliant Henry De Bromhead.
Conditions are ideal and it may be that his tough slog through the mud, which he’s been given time to recover from, will have got him very fit indeed. There is no way that on a level playing field his mark of 154 is anywhere near right.