The race formerly known as the Hennessy has very much been a handicap for the leading fancies with 27 of the last 34 winners starting in the first four in the betting so it has not been wise to have looked too far beyond the obvious. The Willie Mullins-trained Total Recall justified favouritism last season giving the Irish their first winner since 1980.
It was a 4lb penalty that nobody at Seven Barrows twigged that he would have to carry for winning his prep race that basically cost Whisper the race as he was caught in the dying strides or otherwise Nicky Henderson would have won the race for the fourth time in the last 13 years. Paul Nicholls has also won the race three times and has had eight others place to boot. David Pipe is also worth noting having trained a winner and four placed horses from his 12 runners and Colin Tizzard has trained a winner, second and third in the last five years and looks set to run Elegant Escape. He has a fairly similar profile to his stablemate Native River at the same stage of his career who made all to win the race two seasons ago, thus emulating Smad Place who won under similar tactics the previous year. In fact, it has now been 13 years back to Celestial Gold since a horse who was given what can be called a proper, creeping hold-up ride won. It’s very much a rhythm race and, as such, not easy to make up plenty of ground on the second circuit.
THE TOP WEIGHT OR JOINT TOP WEIGHT HAS PLACED AT WORST SEVEN TIMES IN THE LAST 12 YEARS (DENMAN TWICE DEFIED TOP WEIGHT) AND THE TOP WEIGHT IN 2014, HOUBLON DES OBEAUX, FINISHED SECOND AT 50/1.
A handicap in which horses carrying no more than 11st dominated between 1985-2004 with only one winner (Suny Bay) carrying more than 11st, the second most prestigious handicap chase of the season behind the Grand National has become far more of a class-act’s race recently and the last 13 winners were officially rated 145+, eight of which carried a minimum of 11st 4lb. To further underline this notable u-turn, the top weight or joint top weight has placed at worst seven times in the last 12 years (Denman twice defied top weight) and the top weight in 2014, Houblon Des Obeaux, finished second at 50/1. Another class stat to bear in mind is that 14 of last 18 winners had registered a victory over fences at pattern or listed level (including 10 of the last 11), five of which had won a Grade 1 race over hurdles.
Two of the last five runnings went on to feature that season’s Gold Cup winner (Bobs Worth 1st and Lord Windermere 8th) and both of those subsequent Gold Cup winners had won the previous season’s RSA Chase. In fact, 13 of the last 19 winners were second-season chasers so the previous spring’s RSA Chase is usually a very good place to start. The 2010 Newbury 1-2, Diamond Harry and Burton Port, also both contested the RSA Chase earlier in their year and the 2005 and 2007 RSA Chase winners, Trabolgan and Denman, both added this race to their C.V. later in the year as did the aforementioned Bobs Worth. The 2008 and 2009 Ladbrokes Trophy runners-up also contested the RSA Chase the previous spring and Whisper was only beaten a nose in the RSA before another narrow second-place here seven months later.
Another novice chase to note from the previous season is the Grade 1 Kauto Star Novices’ Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day won by Black Corton as four of the last 13 Ladbrokes Trophy winners contested that prize 11 months earlier. During the late 1980s through to 2001 it was the Mildmay Novices’ Chase at the Grand National Meeting that was the second-best guide behind the RSA Chase with five winners but it had not featured the winner for a decade until Many Clouds put that right four years ago and then Native River made it two wins in three years. It is likely that Terrefort will attempt the same double via a prep race at Sandown.
The Badger Ales Trophy at Wincanton was as good trial when Coome Hill and Teeton Mill both won that prize before their Hennessy victories (and Kings Road was only beaten a short-head before he took top honours at Newbury) but it has not been a factor since 2000.
Youth usually carries the day and back in 2014 seven of the first eight home in 2014 were aged no older than seven. In common with many of the big early-season handicaps, it pays to gloss over the claims of older horses that are simply not open to the same amount of improvement as second and third-season chasers. Despite being a third-season chaser, Triolo D’Alene was still only six when he won the 2014 Hennessy and although Carruthers was a fourth-season chaser when he won in 2011, he was still only an eight-year-old. Only the remarkable Diamond Edge way back in 1981, trained by Fulke Walwyn, the master of preparing a horse for this race (his seven victories remains a record) has proved successful for horses aged in double figures since Rondetto in 1967.
At a glance summary
POSITIVES Second-season chasers The first four in the betting Ran in last season’s RSA Chase A Grade 1 winner over hurdles Trained by Paul Nicholls, Nicky Henderson, David Pipe or Colin Tizzard Respect contenders that contested last season’s Kauto Star Novices’ Chase or Mildmay Novices' Chase
NEGATIVES Aged 10+ Obvious hold-up horses Officially rated under 145 Yet to win at Pattern or Listed level over fences For more betting and trends analysis visit Paul Jones Horseracing.
The race formerly known as the Hennessy has very much been a handicap for the leading fancies with 27 of the last 34 winners starting in the first four in the betting so it has not been wise to have looked too far beyond the obvious. The Willie Mulli
Yes - winner will carry a 4lb penalty if running in Ladbrokes Trophy.
It's a decent point - plenty were prepared to speculate that Whisper would have beaten Total Recall last year if he had n't picked up a 4lb penalty for beating Clan Des Obeaux in a match at Kempton less than three weeks previously though you could argue that that the fitness edge he gained would have negated the penalty (or part of it).
Only Thomas Patrick of those running tomorrow is not guaranteed to get a run in the Ladbrokes Trophy at this stage (although it looks like he'd only need four above him to come out to get in without a penalty).
Worth bearing in mind if you're thinking of having a bet tomorrow - obviously three of 'em should get the benefit of a prep run without picking up a penalty (assuming there are no accidents on the way round).
Yes - winner will carry a 4lb penalty if running in Ladbrokes Trophy.It's a decent point - plenty were prepared to speculate that Whisper would have beaten Total Recall last year if he had n't picked up a 4lb penalty for beating Clan Des Obeaux in a
apologies, luckyme - did n't see your answer before I posted.
Worth adding that in the Racing Post preview for Ladbrokes Trophy on Thursday, Terrefort's owners highlighted that the Many Clouds Chase at Aintree the following week is also an option for him, Colin Tizzard stated that the Ladbrokes Trophy has been the target for Elegant Escape since Cheltenham, Tom Lacey was fairly non committal about the plans for Thomas Patrick (depends how he gets on tomorrow basically) and there is no word from Nick Williams who generally likes to keep his own counsel about his plans (I think).
apologies, luckyme - did n't see your answer before I posted.Worth adding that in the Racing Post preview for Ladbrokes Trophy on Thursday, Terrefort's owners highlighted that the Many Clouds Chase at Aintree the following week is also an option for
No penalties to take a horse above 11st12lb in the Ladbroke. This could mean if I understand correctly that Terrefort could win this and have NO penalty. I'd expect (might not) the top 3 to come out of the Ladbroke which would leave Terrefort as top weight carrying 11st12lb. If this happens then he would get no penalty as already top weight. That's how I understand it?
No penalties to take a horse above 11st12lb in the Ladbroke. This could mean if I understand correctly that Terrefort could win this and have NO penalty. I'd expect (might not) the top 3 to come out of the Ladbroke which would leave Terrefort as top
Do they not apply the penalty before the weights go up though? Otherwise you would n't have horses needing to acquire a penalty to get into some of these oversubscribed handicaps?
So Terrefort would be 11-9 assuming he wins today - if Thistlecrack comes out the weights go up 3lbs but he still has to give the likes of Snow Falcon and Un Temps De Tout 4lbs as opposed to racing them off level weights. I'm not sure I'm right by the way - that was just my assumption.
I've a hunch Thistlecrack might yet run - he has a chase win at Newbury albeit in his earlier nigh invincible incarnation.
Do they not apply the penalty before the weights go up though? Otherwise you would n't have horses needing to acquire a penalty to get into some of these oversubscribed handicaps?So Terrefort would be 11-9 assuming he wins today - if Thistlecrack com