It could have been a glorious Saturday, but it was not to be. I went through the runners of the Ladbroke Trophy Chase, and came-up with 5 likely winners:-
Cloth Cap: 12/1 (Betfred 6-places), or 11/1 (7-places with Skybet & William Hill)
Remastered: 14/1 (Paddy Power 6-places), or 12/1 (7-places with Skybet & William Hill)
Copperhead: 18/1 (7-places with Skybet & William Hill)
Canelo: 33/1 (7-places with William Hill)
Cloudy Glen: 33/1 (7-places with Skybet)
I totally ignored the top of the betting market, which was focused on the Irish-trained entries; the main reason being is this race requires a bit of experience to win, and none of the Irish-trained entries had the form showing that. As it turned-out, the fav Eklat De Rire was the subject of a major gamble and went off at odds of just 3/1 - and ran an absolute stinker being pulled-up after jumping the 16th of 21 fences. And there was some major plugging of this horse before the race by celebrity tipsters calling the horse a "monster" and suggesting anything other than a win was out of the question.
So, what of those on my shortlist?
Canelo was the worst performer: he never really got going and pulled-up along with Eklat De Rire. Copperhead was up with the leaders until the 16th fence which he blundered at; and that mistake knocked the stuffing out of him. He pulled-up after jumping the 19th fence, but this was a good run and a drop back to a trip around 2m6f should see him win again off this handicap mark.
Last years' winner Cloth Cap ran a cracker as expected. He led the field at a strong pace until 4-out and stayed-on to be 6th. Absolutely nothing lost in defeat here, and he looks poised to win a decent handicap this season - could that be the Grand National in April?
Remastered: what can I say? He was "in-the-van" throughout, came up alongside the eventual winner at the 4-last fence where his young jockey asked for a big one - and he tipped-up on landing. I thought at that point he was the most obvious winner, but nothing is guaranteed in horseracing! It did look a bad fall, but he was soon up on his feet, and trainer David Pipe was quick to post that the horse appeared to have suffered no ill effects. He is clearly a lot better than his OR146 mark.
If I'd known that more prominent tactics would be employed with Cloudy Glen, then I'd have made him a firm selection as he was clearly well-handicapped on OR140 as he ran 2nd off that rating in the "Kim Muir" at the Cheltenham Festival in March. He'd not been ridden prominently in a chase for almost 2 years, yet he won 3 of his last 4 hurdle races making-all. Knowing how well he stayed, I knew he was sure to go close when he jumped the 16th fence (about 6f from the finish) alongside the then leader Cloth Cap - at which point 3 of the 1st-4 were horses on my shortlist. He is a bit quirky, so there is no telling what he might do next time, but if similar tactics are employed then there is no reason he can't run well again. The from pair were a long way clear of the 3rd horse and this form looks strong.
Given that the horse that beat him in the Kim Muir - Mount Ida - is only rated OR152, it would not surprise me to see that one figure strongly in the betting on the Grand National.
The runner-up Fiddlerontheroof ran a great race, but he could not pass the winner on the run-in and so probably isn't a Grade 1 chaser (yet); but this was a mighty boost of the RSA form in which he was 2nd to Monkfish (and also - indirectly - to Bravemansgame via Pay The Piper).
I was very nearly right with the Rehearsal Chase too, but opted for Spiritofthegames over the eventual winner Aye Right. I thought Spiritofthegames would relish this trip but no, he looks to have dropped in ability based on his two races this season and may now have to lower his sights. As for Aye Right, he just had to match the best form of last season to win this, he's a rock-solid 150-152 chaser so if the handicapper raises his rating from OR151 then he will have difficulty winning again in a handicap. But he is super consistent and resolute, and I expect him to be placed next time in the "Slybet" Chase at Doncaster as he was last season.
I hope you had a great day of sport on Saturday, and maybe next time we can nail a big priced winner.
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