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Ladbrokes Trophy Chase (Handicap) (Grade 3)
Ladbrokes Trophy Chase tips for December’s Grade 1 race. Formely known as the Hennesy Gold Cup, this 3m 2f Chase is one of the highlights of the season and we graced by a brilliant performance by Native River twelve months ago. Read on for our free betting tips, predictions and analysis.
If there is a big race then Willie Mullins isn’t going to be far away and he holds the antepost favourite in the form of Total Recall, who will arrive at Newbury on the back of a win at Limerick in the Munster National. He won easily that day, travelling strongly throughout before pouring on the pressure when taking over, powering clear of Alpha Des Obeaux who is no pushover. The field was strung out all over Munster so the form should hold up well, with the extra two furlongs in distance only serving to bolster his claims. Obviously he’s shot up the weights thanks to that performance, eighteen pounds in total, but the way he travelled and jumped suggests far more is to come and he won’t be far away.
Arriving here on a four-timer, the lightly raced American is unbeaten over fences and shapes as though this could be a defining year for the classy seven year old. Winner of a Listed race two starts ago, his Handicap win at Uttoxeter was particularly taking as he decimated the field off top weight of 11st 12lb. He remains with huge amounts of untapped potential and the way he jumps and travels is brilliant to watch. He’ll need softer ground, that is a must for him, but if getting it he’s going to be a huge danger despite being lumbered with 11st 4lb, as he looks Grade 1 class in the making.
A well known chaser at this stage of his career, the nine year old Whisper drops back into handicap company off a mark which isn’t beyond him at his very best. He had the misfortune to bump into Might Bite the last twice, narrowly denied by that rival when he misbehaved in the RSA Chase but the pair were well clear of the remainder. The same can be said of their rematch at Aintree, though this time he was more comprehensively brushed off by that high-class rival. Back into handicap company, he certainly needs to bring his A-Game off his current weight, but he’s a very strong stayer at this distance for Nicky Henderson and goes well fresh, so a preparation run isn’t essential for him.
A massive improver last season for Tom George, Singlefarmpayment was only pipped by a short-head to the Ultima Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival. At that same venue he returned in a very tough handicap where he travelled like a dream in the rear, perhaps not finding as much as expected off the bridle but he kept on doggedly late on. He may well have needed that run and his handicap mark hasn’t suffered as a result, which is a big positive for him. He will appreciate this step up in distance and he won’t mind the ground come race day, so he’s unlikely to be far away with further progression.
Willie Mullins certainly has a very strong hand in this contest and there is a strong possibility that Acapella Bourgeois may also take his chance. A tear-away front-runner, few will forget his win in the Grade Ten Up Chase at Navan where he stormed away to win by 32 lengths, unchallenged on the day. He struggled in two runs since at the Aintree and Punchestown Festival, with his limitations perhaps becoming exposed but an early mistake at Punchestown did significantly hamper his chances. A soft lead in race of this nature is far from guaranteed but if given the reign he wants he will be blazing a trail out in the lead, with his handicap mark not necessarily harsh based on his hurdling form. He has to be considered a danger as he goes well fresh and shouldn’t be far away.
Returning to form on his seasonal debut, it would be wrong not to give a mention to the 2015 winner Smad Place, who won this contest off nine pounds lower that time around. He is hard to predict these days, now at the age of ten, but he proved he’s still in fighting form with a gutsy win in the Old Roan Chase at Aintree in October. He’s up five pounds in the weights as a result but he should be much happier at this distance and isn’t one to write off despite his age.