Ante-post favourite Total Recall heads a tremendous field of 21 runners for the £250,000 Ladbrokes Trophy over three and a quarter miles at Newbury on second day of the Ladbrokes Winter Carnival, Saturday, December 2.
Total Recall (Paul Townend, 10st 8lb), the 5/1 market leader with Ladbrokes for the prestigious handicap chase, made the perfect start for new trainer Willie Mullins when defeating Alpha Des Obeaux by seven lengths in the Ladbrokes Munster National on October 8.
Total Recall is joined by stablemate Pleasant Company (David Mullins, 10st 9lb, 20/1), winner of the G3 Bobbyjo Chase at Fairyhouse in February. The last Irish-trained winner of what is now the Ladbrokes Trophy was Bright Highway in 1980.
Ireland's hand is strengthened further by Gigginstown House Stud's A Genie In Abottle (Noel Meade/Sean Flanagan, 10st 13lb, 11/1) who comes into the race on the back of wins at Galway and Wexford in October.
The home challenge is led by unbeaten chaser American (Harry Fry/Noel Fehily, 11st 4lb, 7/1) and Singlefarmpayment (Tom George/Adrian Heskin, 10st 8lb, 7/1), who finished second on his comeback at Cheltenham last month.
2015 Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Coneygree (Mark Bradstock/Nico De Boinville, 11st 12lb, 12/1) is bidding to become the third horse this century to defy top-weight, following on from Trabolgan (2005) and Denman (2007 & 2009).
Lambourn trainer Nicky Henderson has lifted the spoils three times since 2005, most recently with Triolo D'Alene in 2013, and has two bullets to fire this year in Whisper (Davy Russell, 11st 8lb, 8/1), who was second to stablemate Might Bite in the G1 RSA Chase in March, and bet365 Gold Cup runner-up Vyta Du Roc (Aidan Coleman, 10st 1lb, 12/1).
Denman's trainer Paul Nicholls is doubly represented by Listed Badger Ales Trophy Handicap Chase Present Man (10st 7lb, 16/1), the mount of the in-form Bryony Frost, and the novice Braqueur D'Or (Harry Cobden, 10st, 25/1). Nicholls' other winner Strong Flow (2003) was the last novice to win the Ladbrokes Trophy.
Cogry (Nigel Twiston-Davies/Jamie Bargary (3), 10st, 14/1)) defeated Singlefarmpayment decisively on his reappearance at Cheltenham last month and is one of two runners for in-form trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies. He is joined by Double Ross (Tom Bellamy, 10st 8lb, 40/1), who was third last year off a 2lb higher mark.
Wiltshire handler Neil Mulholland has three contenders, led by last year's half-length runner-up Carole's Destrier (Robert Dunne, 11st 1lb, 25/1) who hasn't raced since the Welsh Grand National on December 27. The trio is completed by G3 BetBright Chase victor Pilgrims Bay (James Best, 10st, 33/1) and Southfield Royale (Brendan Powell, 10st, 33/1).
Mulholland said today: "We are very happy with Carole's Destrier. He has been away a couple of times, including at Newbury last week, and we have had a good, clean preparation.
"He went there first time out last season and finished second. You can never go into a race like this bullish, but hopefully he will run well.
"Pilgrims Bay is fine. The ground would have been a bit softer than he would have wanted at Wincanton and that run would have brought him on. They should go a nice gallop at Newbury, which will suit him, and fingers crossed he can play a part in the second half of the race.
"Southfield Royale has first-time blinkers. He has got the ability and, if the blinkers bring the best out him, he could run very well."
Last year's winning trainer Colin Tizzard relies on Royal Vacation (Paddy Brennan, 10st 10lb, 16/1), who scored at the highest level last season in the G1 Kauto Star Novices' Chase at Kempton Park.
The 21-strong field is completed by Missed Approach (Warren Greatrex/Richard Johnson, 10st 6lb, 20/1), Label Des Obeaux (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson, 11st, 25/1), Potters Legend (Lucy Wadham/Brian Hughes, 10st, 33/1), Bigbadjohn (Rebecca Curtis/Adam Wedge, 10st 5lb, 40/1) and outsider Regal Encore (Anthony Honeyball/Richie McLernon, 10st 11lb, 50/1).
Ladbrokes Trophy, Ladbrokes bet:
5/1 Total Recall
7/1 Singlefarmpayment, American
11/1 A Genie In Abottle
12/1 Coneygree, Vyta Du Roc
16/1 Present Man, Royal Vacation
20/1 Pleasant Company, Missed Approach
25/1 Braqueur d'Or, Label des Obeaux, Carole's Destrier
33/1 Pilgrim's Bay, Potters Legend, Southfield Royale
40/1 Bigbadjohn, Double Ross
50/1 Regal Encore
Each Way 1/4 1-2-3-4
The Ladbrokes Winter Carnival gets underway tomorrow with a cracking seven-race programme running from 12.20pm to 3.35pm.
Tomorrow's highlight is the £50,000 G2 Ladbrokes Long Distance Hurdle (3.00pm, six runners) over three miles, a G1 contest all but in designation, which sees the latest two winners of the contest - 2015 scorer Thistlecrack (Colin Tizzard/Tom Scudamore) and last year's victor Unowwhatimeanharry (Harry Fry/Barry Geraghty) go head to head.
Ladbrokes Long Distance Hurdle, Ladbrokes bet: Evens Thistlecrack; 7/4 Unowhatimeanharry; 9/1 Colin's Sister; 10/1 Wholestone; 20/1 Taquin Du Seuil; 40/1 Beer Goggles
G2 action tomorrow is also provided by the £40,000 Ladbrokes Novices' Chase (1.50pm, five runners) which sees an intriguing clash between G1-winning hurdlers Willoughby Court (Ben Pauling/Nico de Boinville) and Yanworth (Alan King/Barry Geraghty), who have both scored over fences already this season.
Ladbrokes Novices' Chase, Ladbrokes bet: 5/6 Yanworth; 7/4 Willoughby Court; 15/2 Adrien Du Pont; 16/1 Western Miller; 50/1 Battle Anthem
The other £50,000 contest on day one of the Ladbrokes Winter Carnival is the Ladbrokes Open Handicap Chase (2.25pm, eight runners) over just short of two and a half miles. Willie Boy (Venetia Williams/Liam Treadwell, 10st 12lb), the 3/1 favourite with Ladbrokes, scored over the course and distance at Newbury's opening fixture of the Jump season on November 9.
Ladbrokes Open Handicap Chase, Ladbrokes bet: 3/1 Willie Boy; 9/2 Oldgrangewood, Ridgeway Flyer; 5/1 Jameson; 13/2 Space Oddity; 7/1 O O Seven; 11/1 Icing On The Cake; 20/1 Vibrato Valtat
The latest going at Newbury is:
Hurdle Course: Soft, Good to Soft in places
Chase Course: Good to Soft, Soft in places
GoingStick readings at 7.45am today: Hurdle 4.9; Chase 5.0
The rail has been moved out since last meeting to give fresh ground. It will be moved again after racing on Friday to provide fresh ground for Saturday.
With the movement of the rail, race distances tomorrow are amended as follows:
12.20pm - add 104yds
12.50pm - add 63yds
1.20pm - add 122yds
1.50pm & 2.25pm - add 78yds
3.00pm & 3.35pm - add 181yds
The last 24 hours have been dry. The minimum temperature overnight was minus one degrees Celsius.
Today is forecast to be dry, cold and sunny, with a maximum temperatures of five degrees Celsius.
The next two days should be warmer, with temperatures of six degrees Celsius on Friday and seven degrees Celsius on Saturday. All take offs and landings have been covered as a precaution.