A maximum field of 24 will go to post for the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury tomorrow and jockey-of-the-moment Robbie Power has decided to ride West Approach (10/1 at BetVictor) rather than Mister Malarky (8s at BetVictor) top-weight Elegant Escape (also 10s) or Robinsfirth (25s) who all represent Colin Tizzard who saddled the winner of the corresponding race 12 months ago with Sizing Tennessee. Note BetVictor are betting each way 1/5th odds 5 places on the race.
A fantastic card at Newbury to dissect this afternoon and Nicky Henderson has won the opening novice hurdle five times in the last decade. The Master of Seven Barrows saddles Son Of Camas this afternoon a recent Bumper winner but he is overlooked. This corresponding race has been won by some top-class horses in the past including Buveur D’Air (2015) Lostintranslation (2017) and last season Bright Forecast who finished third at the Cheltenham Festival back in March.
The unbeaten King Roland of Harry Fry could be anything, Paul Nicholls’ saddles Ask For Glory who has had his wind tweaked since he last ran and is fitted with a tongue-tie for the first time. The vote, however, goes to Coconut Splash (12.15) who looked a sure-fire future winner when runner up at Aintree on his hurdles debut over an additional half-mile. He gets the each way vote for Evan Williams.
Venetia Williams saddles Fanion D’Estruval in the 2m handicap Chase and this French import has his first start for the yard having won his last three for Guillaume Macaire. A market move would be worth noting.
Southfield Stone will appreciate returning to a left-hand track and should go close under top-weight for Nicholls, but my two against the field are Khage and West To The Bridge (12.45) with preference for the Dan Skelton runner.
The selection was keen and jumped slightly out to the right at Wetherby last time when he would have gone very close but for blundering two out over 2m 3f. He drops back to the minimum trip this afternoon but should have a decent pace to follow. Khage jumped out to his left at Carlisle on his chase debut – he is better than that and a market move would be worth noting returning to a left-handed test.
Henderson has won the 2m 4f Novice Hurdle three times in the last five years and he saddles Grand Mogul who won a Bumper at Thurles for Gordon Elliot last Christmas and has changed yards in the interim period.
He must go close but preference is for Faustinovick (1.20) who is likely to have been well schooled since fluffing his lines when runner up at Carlisle on his hurdles debut and first start for Tizzard. Do note a market move for Brewers Project who returns from a 628-day lay-off for Nicholls having created such a favourable impression when winning his sole point in Ireland.
Connections bypassed the BetVictor Gold Cup with Kalashnikov (1.50) as they were concerned about the prospect of a big field. Well they have only 11 rivals to worry about this afternoon and I would be disappointed if he didn’t go very close for Amy Murphy in the two-and-a-half-mile handicap chase. The selection is 10/3 at BetVictor.
The Grade 2 Novice Chase over 2m 4f is another wonderful contest and Champ is a short-price (6/4 at BetVictor) to maintain his unbeaten record over fences having scored with ease over C&D here earlier in the month.
That said I didn’t think the favourite jumped as well as Black Op (2.25) did at Stratford although I appreciate that wasn’t much of a race with Lisnagar Oscar a disappointing favourite. At 5/2 with BetVictor Black Op gets the vote although I am also looking forward to the chase debut of Vision Des Flos for the Tizzards.
I can’t oppose Paisley Park (3.00) in the Grade 2 Long Distance Hurdle although, if he is to be vulnerable this term, first time out might be the time. The selection became one of the most popular horses in training when landing the Stayers’ Hurdle at the Festival last season, although this is no lap of honour given Unowhatimeanharry and The World’s End have already had a run under their belt this term.
In the last I hope One For The Team (3.35) settles a bit better than was the case at Worcester on his reappearance when he finished second. The winner – Big Shark – won by no less than 10 lengths at Hereford earlier in the week and at 7/1 with BetVictor I would be disappointed if the selection did not run a big race. He gets the each way vote.
The nap runs tonight at Kempton where I hope to see Sheriffmuir (5.30) go one better than when runner up at Lingfield when slowly away returning from a long absence. He has a moderate draw to overcome this evening in stall 10 but I expect him to be sharper out of the boxes tonight and is taken to give weight to the mare Qatar Queen who is another who has shown more than enough to win a race.