Irish horses Ontheropes and Eklat De Rire are at the head of the betting for the big weekend handicap. It is the showpiece of the two-day Ladbrokes Winter Carnival
Irish trainers go in search of another major British prize by sending over a strong team for the Ladbrokes Trophy.
Willie Mullins, who won the race in 2017 with Total Recall, has favourite Ontheropes primed for a big run.
One of three horses representing his stable, he is joined in the line-up by the Henry de Bromhead-trained Eklat De Rire.
Rachael Blackmore takes the reins on the seven-year-old, fresh from her top level success on A Plus Tard at Haydock last weekend.
Fiddlerontheroof, prepared by in-form handler Colin Tizzard, is a popular choice from the home side – and he has a second at the Cheltenham Festival on his record.
Last year’s winner, Jonjo O’Neill’s Cloth Cap, is another in the mix for the £142,375 first prize.
“It’s going to be a lot harder off an 18lb higher mark but the way he went and won it last year you would be hard pressed to say he wouldn’t have won it with another 18lb on his back,” jockey Tom Scudamore said.
“Having said that, this year we have some Irish horses coming over that look pretty unexposed and you have to give them the utmost respect.”
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Ladbrokes Trophy runners and odds with Grovesnor Sport (3.15, Saturday)
9-2* Eklat De Rire, 5-1 Ontheropes, Fiddlerontheroof, 11-2 Enrilo, 10-1 Kitty’s Light, 12-1 Cloth Cap, Demachine, 14-1 Potterman, Remastered, 16-1 Copperhead, 20-1 Annamix, The Hollow Ginge, 22-1 Brahma Bull, 25-1 Brave Eagle, Danny Whizzbang, One More Fleurie, 28-1 Canelo, 33-1 Mister Malarky, Cloudy Glen, Full Back, 50-1 Fortescue
*Odds correct at the time of publication
ONTHEROPES – Seemingly not the easiest to train with his last two runs separated by breaks of 259 and 316 days. The first of those was a second place to sidelined Gold Cup horse and stablemate Monkfish at this time last year. It all came good when the son of Presenting won the Munster National in October, by two-and-a-quarter lengths. The way he won that day suggests he will stay the extra yardage and he’s a fascinating contender for Cheveley Park, only a week on from their Betfair Chase success with A Plus Tard.
Getty Images Europe)
EKLAT DE RIRE – One of Newsboy’s five to follow for the season, shaping up into an excellent young chaser. The winner of all his completed runs over fences, he is the type to be suited by Newbury’s galloping track. Most of his outings have come with plenty of cut in the ground, although he was still going smoothly on good to soft going when unseating Rachael Blackmore n the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase. Has not faced a field bigger than eight over fences so that is one of the few negatives.
FIDDLERONTHEROOF – Represents Colin Tizzard whose horses are in top form at the moment. That contrasts to last season, when the seven-year-old was one of the shining lights with several decent places at graded level. Took what looked a good Colin Parker chase at Carlisle on his comeback, following the stable’s previous winner Lostintranslation. Should enjoy the ground and should go close, however is a shade vulnerable to a stronger stayer.
ENRILO – Crossed the line first in bet365 Chase at Sandown only to be disqualified for bumping a rival late on. Better off here with Kitty’s Light, who was badly hampered. Enrilo is progressive, racing here off his highest mark to date of 147. Positive reports were recorded on the back of his recent piece of work at Newbury and he has won fresh previously. Clearly not the most straightforward though for all his ability and there is plenty of room up the run-in gives him something to think about.
COPPERHEAD – Last season was one to draw a line through for Jonjo O’Neill junior’s mount. However he is now on 148 with the handicapper, just 3lb higher than when winning the 2020 Reynoldstown by 17 lengths. Prior to that he won a handicap over course and distance, idling when left clear at the last. Pulled up in this 12 months ago, one of two non-completions after his fall at Cheltenham 2020. He has since competed over hurdles and if connections have found the key to him, he represents each-way value.
ONTHEROPES is fancied to give Willie Mullins his second triumph in this prestigious handicap. The lightly-raced chaser has a similar profile to his stable’s 2017 winner Total Recall, coming here after his Munster National heroics. Still a novice over fences this season, his trainer said recently it would be “nice to be thinking in terms of Gold Cups” if all goes well– and he has to post a big run off 153 if he is to be given such lofty targets. Still only seven, he impressed with the way he really quickened into the last fence at Limerick and had something to spare at the finish. Fiddlerontheroof can emerge as the main danger.
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