Elegant Escape and Thomas Patrick are among 13 runners going for glory in the £250,000 Ladbrokes Trophy (3.00pm) at Newbury this Saturday, day two of the Ladbrokes Winter Carnival.
They have already met this season in the Listed Future Stars Intermediate Chase at Sandown Park, with Elegant Escape (Colin Tizzard/Harry Cobden, 11st 10lb including a 4lb penalty) prevailing by half a length from Thomas Patrick (Tom Lacey/Richard Johnson, 11st 3lb).
Top-weight Black Corton (Paul Nicholls/Bryony Frost, 11st 12lb) has the chance the emulate Denman, who was the last top-weight to triumph in 2009.
Elegant Escape’s trainer Colin Tizzard, who won this race with subsequent Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Native River in 2016, also saddles National Hunt Chase third Sizing Tennessee (Tom Scudamore, 11st 3lb) and West Approach (Adam Wedge, 10st 11lb).
Mildmay Novices’ Chase second Ms Parfois (Anthony Honeyball/Aidan Coleman, 11st 1lb) is aiming to become just the second mare after Kerstin in 1959 to win the Ladbrokes Trophy, Britain’s richest handicap chase outside of the Grand National at Aintree.
Trainer Alan King and jockey Wayne Hutchinson combined to win the Ladbrokes Trophy in 2015 with Smad Place, and the pair team up again with Dingo Dollar (11st 3lb). A winner over fences at Newbury last season, Dingo Dollar finished fourth in his prep race over hurdles at Newbury’s opening fixture earlier this month.
The Young Master (Neil Mulholland/Mr Sam Waley-Cohen (3), 10st 8lb including a 4lb penalty) has been rejuvenated this season, winning both of his starts. He started the campaign with victory in a Chepstow handicap chase and followed up in an amateur riders’ handicap at Cheltenham.
The nine-year-old is no stranger to success in high-quality handicap chases, having captured the Listed Silver Cup at Ascot in 2014 and the Bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown Park in 2016.
Trainer Neil Mullholland, based near Bath, said today: “The Young Master has come out of Cheltenham really well.
“The Ladbrokes Trophy is a competitive race, but he has started the season well and obviously has a nice weight.
“He has been rated higher in the past and I don’t see any reason why he can’t get back up to that level. Hopefully, he can keep climbing back up the ladder.
“Ideally, we would not want to see too much more rain at Newbury. There is a bit of time between now and then, so we will see what happens.”
Nigel Twiston-Davies, successful with King’s Road in 2000, is represented by Flying Angel (Tom Bellamy, 10st 11lb), a winning novice over fences two seasons ago, and recent Ascot third Go Conquer (Jamie Moore, 11st 2lb).
The line-up is completed by American (Harry Fry/Miss Aine O’Connor (5), 11st 9lb), who was pulled up when sent off second favourite for the 2017 Ladbrokes Trophy and is ridden for the first time on Saturday by Aine O’Connor, Beware The Bear (Nicky Henderson/Jeremiah McGrath, 11st 3lb) and Allyson Monterg (Richard Hobson/James Bowen, 10st 13lb).