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ITV Racing Tips: Willie Mullins could have the Ladbrokes Trophy tied up with Ontheropes

| 26.11.2021

Day Two of the Ladbrokes Winter Carnival features one of the biggest jumps races in the calendar and the most famous staying handicap chase outside the Grand National in the Ladbrokes Trophy.

It is a race won by many of the greats of the sport, nine of them also winners of the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Fittingly, it has attracted a 21-runner field and four challengers from Ireland plus last year’s winner Cloth Cap, who will become the first horse since Arkle to land back-to-back runnings if he wins again.

The feature race is one of five races from Newbury on the TV schedule which is complemented by three races from Newcastle, including the Fighting Fifth Hurdle where former Champion Hurdle winner Epatante aims to get her season underway.

Coverage begins on ITV3 at 13:00 and continues on the main ITV channel from 2.35pm and we have previewed the three most significant races of the day in our ITV Racing Tips.

14:05 – Betfair Exchange Rehearsal Handicap Chase

Northern favourites Nuts Well and Aye Right, last year’s Ladbrokes Trophy runner-up, and 2019 race winner Takingrisks head the line-up.

Daryl Jacob travels to the north east to partner last time out winner Good Boy Bobby, while another visitor to the area Spiritofthegames returns to 3m seeking his first win since 2018. He has been thereabouts in a number of good handicaps over fences and hurdles and his return to the winners’ circle may not be far off.

He was a staying-on ninth in the 2m4f Paddy Power Gold Cup, beaten only seven lengths, and looks capable of finishing much closer after being dropped 3lb by the handicapper.

15:00 – Ladbrokes Trophy

A fascinating staying chase with a 21-runner field and last year’s winner Cloth Cap. Jonjo O’Neill’s hope is 18lb higher than he was last year and while there is no reason why he shouldn’t go well again, he may have to settle for a place.

This is often a race for a second season novice, and there are a few who fit the bill, especially the joint favourites Ontheropes and Eklat De Rire. They both hail from Ireland whose runners since Cheltenham have continued to plunder British prizes and Eklat De Rire’s trainer Henry de Bromhead has already picked off nearly every big race this year.

However, Ontheropes, in the same Cheveley Park Stud colours as A Plus Tard, may be the stronger candidate. He didn’t win his first chase until the Munster National last month. Willie Mullins took the same route with 2017 winner Total Recall and, having taken six races to open his account, Ontheropes may be flying a little under the radar.

15:15 – Betfair Fighting Fifth Hurdle

A rather familiar line-up at Newcastle with the five of the six-runner field having contested the race twelve months ago. Last year, Epatante won a rather eventful race in which the loose Not So Sleepy took out Silver Streak after unseating at the first flight.

Hopefully there will be no repeat this time when Silver Streak will try to repeat his defeat of Epatante in the Christmas Hurdle.

Epatante went to Kempton having won the Fighting Fifth easily but produced a below-par effort. She wasn’t seen again until the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham where she finished third, losing her 2020 crown to Honeysuckle. There was no disgrace in that performance and, assuming she has no issues this time, can put this race to bed.

The unbeaten Monmiral is an intriguing new opponent. One of the leading juvenile hurdlers last season, he may be biting off a bit too much here.


ITV Racing Schedule, Saturday, 27th November

13:15 Newbury – Sir Peter O’Sullevan Memorial Handicap Chase

13:30 Newcastle – 3m handicap chase

13:50 Newbury – 2m4f handicap hurdle

14:05 Newcastle – Rehearsal Chase

14:25 Newbury– 2m intermediate hurdle

15:00 Newbury – Ladbrokes Trophy

15:15 Newcastle – Fighting Fifth Hurdle

15.35 Newbury – Jim Joel Memorial Trophy

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All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.



Jonathan Lees