With a roll of honour featuring the greatest of all time in Arkle, and one of the toughest and most popular chasers in racing history in Denman, the race formerly known as the Hennessy Gold Cup has a well-deserved place in the upper echelons of the season’s staying chases. Rechristened the Ladbrokes Trophy ahead of the 2017 renewal, this may be a handicap affair but is a race in which it is class which often comes to the fore.

Race Analysis

Neil Mulholland’s runners are going well at present and his representative Carole’s Destrier is one for the shortlist. A close second to Native River here 12 months ago, that form looks solid with that Colin Tizzard runner subsequently going on to show his class when a gallant third in the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Carole’s Destrier is 6lbs higher this time around, but there was five lengths back to the third last year and she may not run into as in-form and classy a rival as Native River this time around.

We do however have a Cheltenham Gold Cup winner in the line-up in the form of Mark Bradstock’s loveable frontrunner, Coneygree. Things haven’t gone quite to plan for the 10 year old since his famous success back in 2015, and a pulled up effort last time out can hardly go down as an ideal preparation. That said, if he can run close to the level of his third to Sizing John in the Punchestown Gold Cup last season, he must surely be in the mix despite top weight.

Noel Meade’s A Genie In A Bottle has come in for significant support in the lead up to the race, and a quick glance through his form would suggest he boasts legitimate claims. Third to the smart Disko in a Grade 1 at Punchestown last term, he arrives seeking a hat-trick having mastered Cheltenham Festival winner, Tiger Roll, and subsequent Troytown Chase hero, Mala Beach on his two most recent starts. The balance of his form would suggest he may need the rain to arrive though.

With the exception of a peak form Coneygree, the class horse in this race may well be Nicky Henderson’s Whisper. A dual Grade 1 winner over hurdles, he is yet to finish outside of the first two in his six starts over fences. Those efforts include two runners up finishes to his stablemate – and current King George favourite – Might Bite in Grade 1 contests. He saw off Clan Des Obeaux well enough in a two runner affair at Kempton last time out and with that horse since going on to score by seven lengths off a mark of 148, Whisper might have some room for manoeuvre off 161 here, bearing in mind he was rated 167 over hurdles in his pomp.

Betting Tips

A competitive renewal as would be expected, but it’s the proven class of Whisper for us here. At 8/1 with Coral, he looks a solid each way option, going for a trainer who has taken this twice in the past five years.