Irish challenger Total Recall lands Ladbrokes Trophy on second day of enthralling Ladbrokes Winter Carnival
It was day two of the Ladbrokes Winter Carnival at Newbury Racecourse on Saturday, December 2, featuring the £250,000 Ladbrokes Trophy. The Ladbrokes Trophy is the second richest handicap chase run in Britain, only the Grand National is worth more, and it was Irish challenger and 9/2 favourite Total Recall who came out on top.
Below is a race-by-race account of day two of the Ladbrokes Winter Carnival.
The ground was: Hurdle Course: Good to Soft, Soft in places; Chase Course: Good to Soft
3.00pm £250,000 Ladbrokes Trophy Chase (Handicap) (Grade 3) 3m 1f 214y
Total Recall (Willie Mullins IRE/Paul Townend, 10st 8lb, 9/2 Fav) became the first Irish-trained horse since Bright Highway in 1980 to land the feature £250,000 G3 Ladbrokes Trophy when successful in the three and a quarter-mile handicap chase.
Always travelling well in mid-division, Paul Townend delivered his charge three out and looked set to go right away.
However, Whisper (Nicky Henderson/Davy Russell, 11st 8lb, 8/1) was a most tenacious opponent and it was only after a sustained duel up the run in that Total Recall overhauled him to emerge as the neck winner. Outsider Regal Encore (Anthony Honeyball/Richie McLernon, 10st 11lb, 66/1) was third, another nine lengths back, of the 20 runners, with Braqueur D’Or (Paul Nicholls/Harry Cobden, 10st, 33/1) fourth.
Successful trainer Willie Mullins said: “I think a lot of the credit must go to Sandra Hughes, who used her father’s methods and progressed very slowly with this horse. Sandra retired and we have just got the benefit of it.
“I thought Paul was fantastic, he was very cool. I thought he was beaten going to the last but he switched sides and got a different run on the other side. He has always been a good jockey and I am lucky to have him.
“The other horse was probably in front that little bit long and got tired. Paul made the best of that and his tactic of changing angles worked a treat.”
Total Recall is now a 20/1 chance with Ladbrokes for the 2018 Cheltenham Gold Cup and looking to the future, Mullins said: “We will look at more handicaps and he will be entered in the Cheltenham Gold Cup. The Gold Cup will have closed before he runs again so he will have an entry.”
Mullins saddled Be My Royal to be first past the post in the 2002 renewal of what is now the Ladbrokes Trophy. That horse was subsequently disqualified after testing positive for a morphine, the source of which was thought to have been a contaminated food supply.
Referring to the past, Mullins continued: “It’s nice to get one on the board and hopefully there won’t be any problem with this one. It was disappointing with Be My Royal but that has been laid to rest. I am very happy today.”
Paul Townend added: “I thought that I had thrown it away when I let him pop the second last and the other horse came across but he is as tough as old boots. It’s some training performance. Davy said to me pulling up that we live alongside each other at home and there was no need to come over here and beat him!
“I got a great run around and a great ride off Total Recall. He winged the last ditch and landed me there. We missed the second last a bit but I knew, when I got stuck into him, he was going to pull out. Thankfully, he did before the line.
“Whisper got a couple of lengths on me at the second last and I knew I would get my lad going again but I just wasn’t sure I would get him going in time. It was a good finish and thankfully we came out on the right side of it.
“It was a big step up from the race at Limerick and we didn’t know how quickly he was improving. You need a lot of luck in a big handicap and it’s hard to be confident but I knew that I had a willing partner under me and was going to give it my best shot.”
Nicky Henderson, trainer of the runner-up Wisper, said: “To be fair, Davy has given Whisper a wonderful ride. He always had room, he always had the horse in the right place and he jumped beautifully.
“I was worried about whether Whisper would be grown up enough – even though he is an older horse, he has only had five or six runs over fences – but he has run a great race.
“It seems a bit cruel to get done like that. I shouldn’t have got him that penalty at Kempton! He has run a fantastic race – it’s always annoying to get beaten but it was a good race.”
A disappointment in the race was top-weight Coneygree (Mark Bradstock/Nico de Boinville, 11st 12lb, 6/1) who raced prominently before weakening, eventually pulling up after the 17th fence.
His trainer Mark Bradstock said: “Coneygree seems absolutely fine but Nico reported that he made a noise. We will probably send him down to Bristol within the next week to have a look. That is horses for you. He has been an absolute superstar and owes us absolutely nothing. We thought we had him on song and he jumped super but that’s the way it is. We will go back to the drawing board and see if we can find anything.”
Another horse not to run his race was 5/1 second favourite American (Harry Fry/Noel Fehily, 11st 4lb, 5/1), who was never in contention and pulled-up before the 17th fence.
His trainer Harry Fry said: “American missed the standing start and never got into a rhythm. He had no fluency and was never in the race.
“It was a big ask coming here first time out and he probably lacked experience for a race like this.”
His jockey Noel Fehily added: “American maybe had a lack of experience for a race like the Ladbrokes Trophy. He belted a couple of fences early and then missed the water jump. Maybe limited experience might have told on the day.”
Attendance across the two days of the inaugural Ladbrokes Winter Carnival showed a small increase on 2016.
Ladbrokes Trophy Day pulled in a crowd of 16,986 while Friday saw 8,431 racegoers in attendance, which was up 1,000 up on the 2016 figure.
Julian Thick, Chief Executive of Newbury Racecourse, said: “We have been encouraged by the crowd figures across the two days.
“This is the first of a five-year deal with Ladbrokes and we intend to keep growing and improving what we have on offer. We have been treated to two fantastic days racing, the first Irish winner in 37 years and planning for 2018 will start immediately.”
Total Recall takes the Ladbrokes Trophy
The trophy presentation after the Ladbrokes Trophy
Rest of the card
12.10pm Ladbrokes Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle Race (Listed Race) 2m 69y
Dame Rose (Richard Hobson/Richard Johnson, 5/1) was the all-the-way winner of the opening Listed Ladbrokes Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle, coming home nine lengths clear of 2/5 favourite Cap Soleil (Fergal O’Brien/Paddy Brennan).
The pair previously met at Newbury on November 9, when Dame Rose came home third to Cap Soleil.
The turnaround in form was no shock to trainer Richard Hobson who commented: “We didn’t have a great run up to her last run – she whacked a hind fetlock and got a bit of mud fever.
“We didn’t quite get it right with the tactics last time but it was an improved performance today and she is looking more like the horse we saw at Aintree.
“There was a big weight turnaround, with 11st on her back, and she got the job done. I was very confident that we could turn the form round with Cap Soleil because Dame Rose was in such good order. She was a fitter horse today and she proved it.
“We will have a look at the programme book now. Today was the day and hopefully we can move forward now. We are back where we want to be.
“Richard Johnson said two miles on soft ground is ideal for her. We will aim at the Cheltenham Festival with her but we won’t over-plan her season as she is still only four.”
Richard Johnson added: “Dame Rose won her bumper at Aintree when being very positive and they thought that they might have almost overdone it the last day. She settled nicely down the back straight and then kept picking up keeping going.
“You never quite know how good they are going in behind and Cap Soleil is a very decent mare. I didn’t want to be too clever – I keep squeezing her and she jumped the last really well. I thought it would be a good one to get by her.
“She is obviously a decent mare and Richard (Hobson) said that a bit softer than that would probably be a bit beneficial, so hopefully she has a nice winter to look forward to.”
12.45pm Ladbrokes John Francome Novices’ Chase (Grade 2) 2m 7f 86y
This G2 event was run in honour of seven-time champion Jump jockey John Francome MBE for the first time in 2017 and saw Elegant Escape (Colin Tizzard/Harry Cobden, 5/1) make all the running to come out on top.
The complexion of the race changed when 7/4 favourite Fountains Windfall (Anthony Honeyball/Aidan Coleman) fell three fences from home and the winner was left to see off the challenge of Black Corton (Paul Nicholls/Bryony Frost, 9/4), staying on well to win by three-quarters of a length.
Successful trainer Colin Tizzard said: “Elegant Escape got a bit tight at the last but jumping is the game. It was unlucky that Fountains Windfall fell and we don’t know what would have happened. Black Corton put it up to our horse and he outstayed him. It was a lovely performance.
“He is a lovely big horse and did look very well in the parade ring, which is usually the best place to have a look at them. We could have gone to Taunton but Newbury is a fantastic place to bring a young horse.
“He is a 140-rated horse and he is only a five-year-old – the rest were all six and seven – so he has got it all in front of him. He is a lovely young horse and we will keep racing, hoping that we can get him to the festivals in the spring. We can all hope that he is an RSA Chase horse – that would be his trip anyway. He could go for the Feltham at Kempton on Boxing Day next.”
Tizzard also had an update on his stable star Thistlecrack, who disappointed when fifth in yesterday’s G2 Ladbrokes Long Distance Hurdle. He continued: “Thistlecrack is fine this morning.
“You have to remember, he had two month’s box rest, four months in the field, two months walking and a month each of cantering and galloping. I think it was excusable that he blew up yesterday.”
Winning rider Harry Cobden added: “I watched a few of his races last night and it looked as though he just stays and gallops. He has jumped great today and seen them off really well in the end. I couldn’t really see if Aidan Coleman was going well or not but my horse keeps finding – Black Corton came at him going to the last and he jumped the last well.
“He is a lovely, big, beautiful horse and I am sure that he has got a big future ahead of him. I am pretty sure that he won’t be running off 137 again. At every fence, if there is a stride there and you ask him up, he comes to you. He is a pleasure to ride.”
Trainer Paul Nicholls said of the runner-up: “Black Corton has run a really good race again. He needed a big one at the last but just missed and landed a bit flat before staying on. It was his eighth run of the season and he keeps progressing.
“He will probably go to Kempton on Boxing Day. There is a G2 at Doncaster in a couple of weeks, which always cuts up and is always on ground that he likes. You wouldn’t not look at it in case there were three or four runners. We will have a look and see.
“One day, he will tell us that he has had enough but he keeps thriving and has astonished me how much he has improved since Worcester in May.”
1.20pm Sir Peter O’Sullevan Memorial Handicap Chase 2m 6f 93y
The Sir Peter O’Sullevan Memorial Handicap Chase saw a winning seasonal debut from Gold Present (Nicky Henderson/Nico de Boinville, 11st 10lb, 13/2). Always prominent, the seven-year-old rallied after the last to defeat Warriors Tale (Paul Nicholls/Bryony Frost (5), 11st 6lb, 10/1) by a neck with Gentleman Jon (Colin Tizzard/Paddy Brennan, 10st 6lb, 16/1) another half-length away in third.
Nicky Henderson said: “Gold Present had to do well to come back. Nico gave him a lovely ride because I think he had to take a little breather down the bottom. He was exuberant early on and jumped his way to the front very quickly. I think Nico had to take a pull because it was his first run of the year.
“I thought he was beaten but, on the other hand, it looked as though Nico had to sit still for a second turning in to fill him up again. It was his first run of the year and will come on a lot it for it.
“I have no idea what the plan is now but I think he wants to go up to three miles now. He fell in the Topham last year but, with the way he jumps, you can see why we were thinking about that race. It might be somewhere else for him later on in the season.
“Sir Peter was a great friend and it is lovely to win this race today.”
Nico de Boinville added: “With our horses, the first time they run, they just need to be sat on for half a second to let them fill up again. I thought if I did that, he might get a second wind and run on, which is what he has done.
“He was helped by the loose horse slightly inconveniencing the Nicholls horse but, apart from that, he is full of guts and jumps for fun. He got brought down horribly in the Topham and I didn’t really want to be in front but he jumped me there so I didn’t want to disappoint him.”
1.50pm Ladbrokes Handicap Hurdle 2m 4f 118y
The well-backed Old Guard (Paul Nicholls/Bryony Frost (5), 11st 7lb, 7/2 Jt Fav) landed the Ladbrokes Handicap Hurdle. Taking the lead three out, the six-year-old stayed on well to come home two and three-quarter lengths to the good over Reiluc (Chris Gordon/Paul O’Brien, 11st 3lb, 14/1) with the other 7/2 Jt Fav Air Horse One (Harry Fry/Noel Fehily, 11st 8lb) a further head back in third,
Paul Nicholls said: “The horses are running well and the jockeys are riding well, particularly Bryony, who had never ridden here before. She had a walk round earlier and is so tactically aware – she said that there would be no pace so she would be up there and would kick on from two hurdles out. The horse deserved to win a nice race.
“Old Guard ran well at Cheltenham last time and is a great advert for breathing operations – he has been a different horse this season. That is why I am not afraid to say when my horses have had a breathing operation. The same is true of Clan des Obeaux, who has also been transformed this season and I don’t see the problem in making trainers say when horses have had breathing operations.
“We could look at stepping Old Guard back into Graded company after today. We will put him in the Christmas Hurdle and have a look. The Lanzarote could also be a possibility. He has been a good money spinner.”
Bryony Frost added: “We had confidence in Old Guard. He is a great friend of all of ours – he owes no-one nothing in the yard. We have had two seconds today and my team have behind me saying I will be alright and just need to keep kicking.
“This horse looked revved in the paddock and on fire – he was ready – and he filled me with confidence out there. We hit the front, I started to galvanise him and he is brave. We had to take time at the last – he has been wanting to go to the inside the whole way round, so let him drift in and thankfully I had enough horse.
“I am girl that is sat on the best horse out there. If he wins, he has done the work. It’s a massive day and to have the opportunity for me on a Saturday like this – I have never ridden at Newbury before, apart from I think once on the Flat.”
Jeremy Kyle, who owns Old Guard in partnership with the Brooks & Stewart families, said: “That’s not about Paul or me but about Bryony Frost – what a lady, what a jockey and what a fantastic day. I am so pleased for Old Guard and he deserved it.”
Old Guard (right) on his way to victory in the Ladbrokes Handicap Hurdle
2.25pm Ladbrokes Intermediate Hurdle (Limited Handicap) (Listed Race) 2m 69y
High Bridge (Ben Pauling/Mr Alex Ferguson, 11st 3lb) justified 9/4 favouritism in the Ladbrokes Intermediate Handicap Hurdle to win by a length and a quarter. The winner runs in the colours of his Margaret Ferguson, mother of his former trainer John Ferguson, while the winning jockey is her grandson.
The six-year-old made all the running to score by a length and a quarter from Charli Parcs (Nicky Henderson/Noel Fehily, 11st 10lb, 4/1) with Poppy Kay (Philip Hobbs/Richard Johnson, 11st, 5/1) another three-quarters of length in arrears.
Ben Pauling said: “It was a brilliant ride from Alex because there was absolutely no pace. We had no interest in being in front to be honest but I said to Alex that he might have to bob away. High Bridge is such a relaxed horse that he didn’t do a tap in front and I was just terrified that he would be a sitting duck.
“They have finished like it was a slow race – all on top of each other – but he has repelled them when he needed to. Alex is a young lad who is going so well and it is great for him, John and everyone else.
“High Bridge will stay every yard of two miles and is good in this ground as well. He could be quite useful and we might have to come out of handicaps at some point.
“I am not one for stats, but he’s won off 145 today so we will have to see. He had been creeping up the weights due to what Elgin has done so it is good to see him win and I am thrilled for Alex and John. The Betfair Hurdle back here in February could be an option but we will enjoy today first.
“Willoughby Court is spot on after his win here yesterday – there is not a bother on him.”
Alex Ferguson added: “There wasn’t much pace on and the overall idea wasn’t to make it but, if someone had gone on, they probably would have gone too steady. It all worked out OK. High Bridge was nice and relaxed out in front and I am delighted with his run. He has done nothing wrong and loves it here.
“I get a huge amount of support from Ben and everyone in the yard at home – it’s a great place to be and I am a very happy and lucky boy. Ben and I get on very well and he has been very good to me over the past year and a half. It’s a great place to be and a huge team effort from everyone.
“It’s huge for me. I am still an amateur and delighted with the way things are going. Turning conditional is the next step for me and I am taking nice and steady. I am not rushing but you have to take that next step at some point.”
High Bridge takes the Ladbrokes Intermediate Hurdle
3.35pm Ladbrokes Handicap Chase (For The Jim Joel Memorial Trophy) 2m 92y
The final race of the Ladbrokes Winter Carnival saw Overtown Express (Harry Fry/Noel Fehily, 11st 6lb, 13/2) come out on top by 10 lengths from Rock On Rocky (Matt Sheppard/Jamie Bargary, 9st 12lb, 14/1). The winner took the lead four out and kept on well for a comfortable success.
Harry Fry said: “At least we can go home with some credibility after the last two days.
“Overtown Express has been wanting this slower ground and Noel has given him a lovely ride.”
Noel Fehily added: “Overtown Express loves a bit of slow ground, so I was glad to see the rain for him. He jumped brilliantly, as good as he has jumped, and I thought that was his strongest asset today. He was very quick from A to B over his fences.
“I was fairly sure he didn’t run his race in the Kingmaker last season and I think Harry felt the same. He has shown today that he is not a bad little horse when he is right.”