With 57 runners still remaining at the latest entry stage, this year’s Ladbroke appears at first inspection to be fraught with danger, however, with many not expected to make the tape and just as many not up to the task, it is less of a minefield than first appears.
Greatwood Hurdle winner and runner-up Dell’Arca and Sametegal, both priced at 12/1, each make appeal as they have already shown in their short careers the ability to follow-up impressive performances with another.
Dell’Arca’s trainer David Pipe is also no stranger to success in the race. The prize first came back to Pond House when Martin Pipe had his name above the door and returned a year later. The Pipe hat-trick was sealed a year later in David’s first season as trainer as the late David Johnson’s Acambo swept to victory under Timmy Murphy.
Another handler who has enjoyed excellent success in the contest, is unsurprisingly, Nicky Henderson. No-one in the Ladbroke’s 26-race history (it was abandoned in 2009 and 2010 due to frost and snow respectively) has won it more times, with first place prize money sent back to Seven Barrows on three occasions.
Paul Nicholls sends out a predictably strong team in a bid to capture one of the few remaining races not already bursting from the Ditcheat handler’s resume, with French Grade 1 winner Ptit Zig, 16/1, leading the six-strong assault.
Last year’s winning saddler Gordon Elliott sends out the impressive Fred Winter winner Flaxen Flare, 16/1, in a bid to take the bounty again but his four-year-old could only finish fourth in the Greatwood Hurdle and looks in need of time to reach the levels he did back in March.
The clear favourite hails from Ireland with recent Cheltenham winner Quick Jack given a huge boost to that form in the middle of November when the horse he beat by 2 ¼ lengths, Deep Trouble, swept aside a decent field at Sandown latest.
Currently 7/1, Tony Martin’s hope certainly has more ticks in the positive column than the other, but whether the price fairly reflects his chances with so much water to pass until the big day remains to be seen.
Deep Trouble won in convincing fashion in Esher though and any horse that can beat him in the same manner deserves to be heading the market even at this fledgling stage.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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