Hennessy Gold Cup

The Ladbrokes Trophy was formerly known as the Hennessy Gold Cup and is one of the most valuable handicap chases of the National Hunt season. The race often features potential Cheltenham Gold Cup horses with notable past winners including Arkle (1964 and 1965), One Man (1994) and Denman (2007 and 2009).

The Race

The Ladbrokes Trophy takes place over three and a quarter miles at Newbury in late November or early December. Although it is a fiercely competitive handicap, it is seen as a good starting point for horses looking to advance from top novice chases the previous season. A touch of class is needed to take this race and most recent winners have carried more than 11 stone to victory.

Famous Ladbrokes Trophy Winners & History

The Hennessy Gold Cup was originally held at Cheltenham in 1957 with the inaugural running won by Mandarin, trained by Fulke Walwyn. The race was moved to Newbury in 1960 with Mandarin becoming the first dual winner in 1961.

The race was soon established as the first big staying handicap chase of the season and has always attracted top class fields. Mill House won in 1963 before his great rival Arkle defied 12st 7lbs in successive seasons in 1964 and 1965. Arkle only narrowly failed in his hat-trick bid, losing by half a length to Stalbridge Colonist in 1966 when attempting to concede 35lbs.

The quality of winners has remained consistently high including Cheltenham Gold Cup winners Bregawn (1982) and Burrough Hill Lad (1984) and King George VI Chase winners One Man (1994) and Teeton Mill (1998). Denman produced one of the greatest weight-carrying performances in the race to defy 11st 12lbs in 2007 and 2009, only the second horse to win the race twice.

In recent years, Gold Cup winners Bobs Worth (2012) and Native River (2016) and Grand National winner Many Clouds (2014) have added their names to the roll of honour. Hennessy’s sponsorship of the race continued until 2016 when it was renamed the Ladbrokes Trophy, ending the longest running commercial sponsorship in the history of British racing.

Key Ladbrokes Trophy Trials

The RSA Chase at the Cheltenham Festival the previous season has been a useful guide to this race in the past. Trabolgan (2005), Denman (2007) and Bobs Worth (2012) all won the Grade 1 novice chase before winning this race.

The National Hunt Challenge Cup for Amateur Riders at Cheltenham has also produced subsequent winners here. Native River (2016) and Sizing Tennessee (2018) were both placed in that gruelling contest the previous season. Native River ran in a hurdle as his final prep race for Newbury and the same approach worked for 2019 winner De Rasher Counter.

Victory in the Ladbrokes Trophy opens all sorts of future opportunities. Likely future targets include the Coral Welsh National, the Cheltenham Gold Cup and the Aintree Grand National. The Newbury form usually stands up to close inspection and often produces future big race winners.

Ladbrokes Trophy Betting Trends

Market leaders have a mixed record in the Ladbrokes Trophy with only three winning favourites in the ten years between 2010 and 2019. Bobs Worth (2012), Native River (2016) and Total Recall (2017) were all well-backed favourites.

Nicky Henderson’s Triolo D’Alene at 20-1 in 2013 was the longest priced winner during that period. There have been shock results in the past, notably Sibton Abbey at 40-1 in 1992 and Madison Du Berlais at 25-1 in 2008. Sizing Tennessee (2018) and De Rasher Counter (2019) both returned at odds of 12-1.

Ladbrokes Trophy Stats

Although Newbury is one of the fairest tracks in the country, stamina is still a key factor for the Ladbrokes Trophy. Most recent winners had at least one victory at three miles or over. Relatively inexperienced chasers do well in this race, particularly those with an official rating of 148 or higher.

A recent run is not always necessary to win here as it is the first major chase of the new season. Previous course form is another useful factor and horses aged six to eight have the best recent record. This age group has accounted for all but two of the 21 winners between 1999 and 2019. The exceptions were Denman (2009) aged nine and Sizing Tennessee (2018) aged ten.

The successful age group perfectly illustrates the fact that this race is ideal for a progressive young chaser. Consequently it is a difficult race to win twice, making Denman’s 2009 victory even more remarkable. Having won the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2007, he was racing off a 13lbs higher mark when conceding 22lbs to stable companion What A Friend. Both of Denman’s victories came without a recent run.

Top Trainers and Jockeys

Fulke Walwyn trained the winner of this race on a record seven occasions. These include Mill House in 1963 who went on to win the King George VI Chase and the Cheltenham Gold Cup in the same year. His final victory was with ten-year-old Diamond Edge who defied top weight of 11st 10lbs in 1981.

Paul Nicholls has won this race as a jockey and as a trainer. He was aboard 1986 winner Broadheath and followed up on Playschool the following season, both trained by David Barons. Nicholls has since gone on to score as a trainer with Strong Flow (2003) and Denman (2007 and 2009). Colin Tizzard has enjoyed more recent success with Native River (2016) and Sizing Tennessee (2018).

Irish trained runners have a poor record in this race. They were successful with Bright Highway in 1980 but had to wait until Total Recall in 2017 to register their second victory in the race. Be My Royal finished first in 2002 but was subsequently disqualified after testing positive for a banned substance.

Betting on the Ladbrokes Trophy

Ante-post betting on the Ladbrokes Trophy begins when the weights are announced in early November. A lot of the original entries are speculative and the market does not usually hot up until the second declaration stage as trainers begin to outline their plans. The race is always competitive with bookmakers offering enhanced place terms down to fourth or fifth place for each-way betting.

Summary

For many jumping fans, the Ladbrokes Trophy signals the first major chase of the season. A fascinating clash between last season’s top novices and the more established stars can provide early clues for the spring meetings at Cheltenham and Aintree. The Ladbrokes Trophy also breathes some life into ante-post betting on races like the Coral Welsh National. It always provides a thrilling spectacle and is the first in a series of big Saturday handicap chases to light up the dark days of winter.

Other horse racing betting events

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