Ladbrokes Trophy: The eight greatest winners in history
The Ladbrokes Trophy takes centre-stage at Newbury on Saturday, and ahead of the race, we decided to take a look back on eight great winners of the famous old contest since the first running in 1957.
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Mill House (1963)
Mill House may have been overshadowed by Arkle throughout his career, but he still remains one of the highest-rated National Hunt horses of all-time according to Timeform. Not only that, but he also won the Ladbrokes Trophy (or the Hennessy Gold Cup as it was back then) before his great rival.
The Big Horse claimed his one and only Newbury victory back in 1963. He made all of the running and held off a challenge from the then-unbeaten Arkle to claim the £5,020 prize by 8l. It could have been a different story altogether, but Arkle’s blunder two from home handed Mill House what become a comprehensive victory. Fulke Walwyn’s horse won a host of other top prizes in his career too, including the Cheltenham Gold Cup and the King George, both in 1963, plus three editions of the Gainsborough Chase and the Whitbread Gold Cup in 1967.
Arkle (1964, 1965)
Arkle may have faltered two from home in 1963, but he made no mistake in 1964 as he won the race by 10l from Mill House. The pair enjoyed a colossal duel throughout, but Arkle pulled clear at the finish to add the Hennessy to his Irish Grand National and Cheltenham Gold Cup crowns. He returned 12 months later and obliged once more, this time romping home by a magnificent 15l to become the second two-time winner of the race and the sole back-to-back winner – a record which stands to this day.
It wasn’t only at Newbury where Arkle was successful, though. He won races wherever he went and eventually finished his career with 27 victories from 35 races, a record which included a hat-trick of Gold Cups, a King George and a Whitbread Gold Cup. At 212, his Timeform rating remains the highest ever awarded to a steeplechaser.
One Man (1994)
In an ideal world, Burrough Hill Lad and Bregawn would have made our shortlist. But with only eight places available on our exclusive roster, it’s One Man’s victory in 1994 which is the next to take our focus. One Man didn’t excel over hurdles, and his first season over fences didn’t go particularly well either, but in 1994 something clicked for the grey who was trained by the late, great Sir Gordon Richards, and whom the trainer likened to Desert Orchid.
He kicked off his season with success in the Tennents Special Chase at Ayr before rocking up to Newbury as the second-favourite at 4/1. Off a measly weight of 10-0, the six-year-old was always going well and made his challenge at the 17th before taking control from three out and eventually easing home with 2l to spare from Lord Relic. It was the first major victory for One Man, who would go on to win back-to-back renewals of the King George and the Charlie Hall before his finest hour in the 1998 Champion Chase.
Teeton Mill (1998)
Teeton Mill only recorded four major victories before his career was cut short in the 1999 Gold Cup. But one of those was in the Hennessy, where he became the only the second winner to be saddled by a female trainer.
Venetia Williams’s nine-year-old was near the head of the betting at 5/1 after his success in the Badger Beer Chase at Wincanton, and he justified those odds to win by 15l. Jockey Norman Williamson tracked the leaders patiently and went away alongside Eudipe as the runners made the turn for home. Teeton Mill then put in a mighty leap at the third last to take over as the leader before cantering to the line to win the race by a huge distance.
Victory in the King George at Kempton would follow a month later, with success in the 1999 Ascot Chase his last major honour prior to that career-ending injury at Cheltenham.
Denman (2007, 2009)
Denman was one of the most loved horses of the modern National Hunt era. Not only did he win the Gold Cup in 2008, he also had an enduring rivalry with Kauto Star, and he produced two of the greatest Ladbrokes Trophy performances of all-time.
His first win in the race came in 2007. Despite having no prep-run due to the heavy ground, the horse nicknamed The Tank walked all over the opposition, including runner-up Dream Alliance who was in receipt of 18lb, to win by a mammoth 12l.
Yet it was his second win in 2009 which was his crowning glory. This time the mount of Ruby Walsh shouldered an incredible 11st 12lb to victory with eventual runner-up and stable companion What A Friend in receipt of 22lb. It didn’t matter to The Tank, though, who stayed on strongly to produce one of the all-time great Newbury performances to win by 3½l.
Bobs Worth (2012)
Bobs Worth enjoyed a decent spell as a hurdler before making the switch to chasing in 2011. He won the RSA in 2012 prior to his one and only Hennessy Gold Cup later that year.
Nicky Henderson’s charge won the race in fantastic fashion on his seasonal reappearance, beating the well-regarded pair of Tidal Bay and First Lieutenant in the process. That performance demonstrated his ability to win over such a testing trip, and he duly followed up at Cheltenham five months later to win the Gold Cup.
Many Clouds (2014)
Many Clouds only won four major races in his career but for his heart and desire he’s remembered fondly by all racing fans. The 2014-15 season was his most memorable by far, and it all started with a strong staying victory in the Hennessy.
Oliver Sherwood’s inmate remained in mid-division throughout the race before taking the lead at the last and being driven out to win by 3¼l from Houblon Des Obeaux. That success was the catalyst for what followed, with subsequent victories in the Cotswold Chase and the Grand National later that season. He won his second Cotswold Chase two years later when beating the previously unbeaten Thistlecrack in what was to prove his last race.
Native River (2016)
Native River is the most recent winner on our list and he’s the last one to go on and win the Gold Cup too. Colin Tizzard’s charge is renowned for his grit and determination and he showed that to full effect at Newbury back in 2016.
Richard Johnson’s mount lined up as the 7/2f and chased the leaders throughout before making his move two from home. The six-year-old extended his lead at the last but idled badly to see his advantage reduced by the staying on Carole’s Destrier. Nevertheless, Native River managed to remain on course and edge out the challenger by just under a length. It was a heart-pumping finish, and one that was repeated just over a year later at Cheltenham as Native River repelled the advances of Might Bite to win his first Gold Cup.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing