Gallops Morning at Newbury Racecourse previews the second running of the Ladbrokes Trophy
Around 200 annual members of Newbury Racecourse and the press assembled on Tuesday morning for a preview of the Ladbrokes Winter Carnival - and especially the Ladbrokes Trophy (December 1).
Five trainers brought horses to the Gallops Morning - Paul Nicholls, Nicky Henderson, Anthony Honeyball, Tom Lacey and Richard Hobson.
With interviews in the collecting ring by Luke Harvey and commentary on the gallops from Richard Hoiles, the event ticked all the right boxes with some important horses on show.
Opening the proceedings were two horses from Anthony Honeyball's yard - Ladbrokes Trophy entry Ms Parfois (with Aidan Coleman up) accompanied by stablemate Regal Encore.
Seven year-old chestnut mare Ms Parfois is currently 14-1 for the Trophy. She is yet to race this season, but last year had an excellent first season over fences. She took listed prizes at Newbury and Warwick before coming home second in both the G2 National Hunt Chase in March and the Group 1 Mildmay Novices' Chase in April.
Other Ladbrokes Trophy entries getting the feel of Newbury's turf were Allysson Monterg (trained by Richard Hobson), Beware the Bear (Nicky Henderson) and Thomas Patrick (Tom Lacey.)
Paul Nicholls brought Topofthegame (Harry Cobden) and Chameron (Sam Twiston-Davies). The former will be entered in a novices' chase at the Carnival (November 30-December 1).
But Nicholls was keen to give news of 'definite' Ladbrokes Trophy entry Black Corton - to be ridden as usual by Bryony Frost: "Black Corton has come out of his second in the Charlie Hill Chase very well - everything is right for him in the Ladbrokes Trophy." Black Corton won eight times last season.
Interviewed by phone his stables in Ireland, Willie Mullins (trainer of last year's winner Total Recall) told the assembled Newbury crowd that like most of Britain "It's been very dry over here" - this was making decisions about his entries for the Ladbrokes Winter Carnival Trophy pretty difficult.
And he thought both Total Recall and Pairofbrowneyes were probable contenders.Mullins was, he said, going to concentrate on the big race - with second top weight Kemboy most likely to run.
Marlborough trainers are still represented in the 42 strong line-up for the Ladbrokes Trophy which has a maximum field of 24. Alan King's two - Dingo Dollar and Label Des Obeaux (see our earlier Newbury report) - and Emma Lavelle's Javert and Full Irish.
Javert was one of only six out of a field of eighteen to finish Cheltenham's BetVictor Gold Cup Handicap Chase (November 17) - drawing the comment that he 'clearly needs returning to a flat course' - like Newbury?
Also attracting a lot of attention at Newbury's morning gallops was the Nicky Henderson trained star Altior - reigning champion two-mile chaser and unbeaten in fifteen starts over hurdles and fences. Not a participant in the Ladbrokes Trophy, and next expected to be seen in the Group 1 Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown on December 6.
After some good rain before their first jumps fixture of the season, the Newbury course has been kept from drying out. With a little more rain forecast before the Ladbrokes Winter Carnival weekend, they expect it to stay good.
One jockey came off the course after galloping a couple of circuits on Tuesday morning saying it was 'Good, Good to soft' in places. But the most important piece of equipment at the racecourse may continue to be their rain gauge - pictured below!