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Ladbrokes Trophy and Early Cheltenham

Ladbrokes Trophy

A race steeped in history; the Ladbrokes Trophy is a key focal point for top three mile chasers at the start of the season. This is mainly for one of two reasons – there is either a top horse (or more) from last season that will attempt to carry a big weight. Or there are high class novices going into open company, with the dream of becoming a gold cup contender. I wouldn’t’t personally say there is any from the first category in this season line up. But we’re certainly not short of top novices, and a few of them could make their way to the top table this campaign.

Eklat De Rire heads the market following a comfortable win at Wexford in October, a race won by his Gold Cup-winning stablemate Minella Indo twelve months ago. Other than an unseat in the Grade 1 Brown Advisory at Cheltenham in March, he has an unblemished record over fences.

He hasn’t hit his ceiling and could be very smart, but his rating of 154 looks about right on what we’ve seen and he’s not much value.

He’s been highly tried, but I think Fiddlerontheroof is more than capable of winning a handicap off a mark of 150. He’s a Grade 1 winner hurdler and despite only winning once from seven chase starts as a novice, his form reads very well. Seconds to Next Destination and Monkfish in particular are strong efforts. The fact that Colin Tizzards horses simply weren’t firing at all last season also makes me think he has more in the tank.

The stable has started well this campaign and I think we’re going to see some improvements from the yard’s horses. Fiddlerontheroof looks a proper stayer to me and his win over shorter in the Colin Parker chase, against a competitive and tremendously useful field on his reappearance, is extremely encouraging for the season ahead.

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I want another horse on my side here, and it’s a lot further down the market list. Lieutenant Rocco was on a lot of people’s radars for the Ultima Handicap at the Cheltenham Festival in March before being ruled out due to lameness. He’s since moved to Ralph Smith’s yard and it’s pretty interesting he’s entered here. He jumped like a stag on his first go at three miles over fences, and staying events are really going to bring out the best in him.

Runs behind Fusil Raffles, Messire Des Obeaux and Protektorat over shorter really stamp him out as a horse to follow. Completely unexposed as a stayer, I think he could be pretty good. A rating of 147 isn’t the ceiling of his potential as far as I’m concerned and if he’s confirmed for the race, I can see him being well-punted.

Recommended Bets

Back Fiddlerontheroof @ 9/1

Back Lieutenant Rocco @ 25/1 Each Way

Brown Advisory Novices Chase

I’ve waited until November for my first Cheltenham Festival bet, but I can’t hold off any longer when they’re staring me in the face. As long as Paul Nicholls goes the staying route with Bravemansgame, I think he’ll be a winner in March. His chasing debut was a joy to behold, his jumping was nothing short of exemplary. I know he was receiving weight, but to dispose of The Big Breakaway and Fusil Raffles like he did was just class. They couldn’t’t get near him.

I know his trainer thinks he has pace, but at the very top level, he doesn’t have enough. Bob Olinger made that very clear in the Ballymore and the Brown Advisory Novices Chase will suit Bravemansgame down to the ground, as I think he’ll definitely stay. Plus, I would say he definitely has more pace than a lot of rivals competing at that longer distance.

I love him taking the staying route, I think he could go unbeaten this season as he looks a complete natural over fences.

That jumping technique is invaluable as a novice, and he’ll expose weaker opposition. Hence why I’m backing him now, as I think his price will only go one way.

Recommended Bet

Back Bravemansgame @ 8/1

Champion Bumper

This is a slightly strange race for me to be betting in at this stage. But I think we’ve seen a bit of a machine already. Gordon Elliott has targeted the Down Royal bumper at the end of October religiously in recent years, claiming the last seven in succession. Winning it with the likes of Death Duty, Rapid Escape and Easywork for Gigginstown who went on to much better things. Malone Road was well fancied for the Champion Bumper and Sir Gerhard won it, albeit with a different trainer.

American Mike is the latest victor and he won in an absolute canter. The £195,000 purchase laughed at his rivals, going clear in the closing stages without Jamie Codd pressing any buttons. There’s not a huge amount more to go on, but the manner and race trends of the win all point to him being Elliot’s number one bumper horse this season. Having produced a performance like that which was strongly backed up by the clock, being significantly faster than all hurdle races over that distance on the same card. It’s not a flashy price, but this could look silly come festival time if American Mike carries on this vein.

Recommended Bet

Back American Mike @ 11/2

Alex Peperell

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