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Newbury's Ladbrokes Trophy: De Rasher Counter brings home the bacon on memorable weekend for local trainer Emma Lavelle

Emma Lavelle - who trains at Ogbourne Maizey - enjoyed the most memorable weekend of her 20 year training career when De Rasher Counter captured the £250,000 Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury on Saturday (November 30), the day after her stable star Paisley Park made a winning return to action at the track.

De Rasher Counter, owned by a syndicate of five (the Makin' Bacon Partnership) who include Paisley Park’s owner Andrew Gemmell, delivered her trainer’s biggest victory over fences with a six lengths triumph under emerging Welsh riding talent Ben Jones.

The 20-year-old Jones only turned conditional three months ago but belied his lack of big race experience by taking the 12-1 chance into the lead four out and driving his mount to a breakthrough triumph from The Conditional and a fast-finishing Elegant Escape, last year’s runner-up.


On Friday Lavelle had saddled champion staying hurdler Paisley Park to land the Ladbrokes Long Distance Hurdle on the opening day of the two day Ladbrokes Winter Carnival.


Emma Lavelle quizzed by the pressEmma Lavelle quizzed by the pressLavelle said: “I am so proud that we have been able to get these horses right for the big day this weekend. It is close to home and it is so special for everybody.  We could have taken this horse to Cheltenham last year, but mentally we didn’t think he was ready for it and the owners were prepared to wait, with this as the target - so it is just magical when it comes off because so often it doesn’t. I really can’t believe it. How has this happened?”


Since 2016 Lavelle has trained at stables in Ogbourne Maizey, Wiltshire whose previous occupants included Bob Turnell, trainer of 1967 and 1975 winners Rondetto and April Seventh, when the Ladbrokes Trophy was known as the Hennessy Gold Cup.


Emma Lavelle explained: “It’s a grown up training place.  It’s enabled us to nurture the horses a bit better. It does have an incredibly rich history as a training establishment."


“We could not have had De Rasher Counter in better shape going into this, but we could not say whether he was good enough until he got out there. He quite patently showed that he was.”


Jones, the son of Ffos Las clerk of the course Dai Jones who was an amateur Dai Jones.  Ben, who is from Carmarthen in West Wales, has made a quick impression since he came out of the amateur ranks, also winning a valuable handicap hurdle at Ascot and riding a Hereford treble this season.

Ben Jones takes the lead with De Rasher Counter (Photo: Newbury Racecourse) Ben Jones takes the lead with De Rasher Counter (Photo: Newbury Racecourse)

“Jumping two out I thought it would take a good horse to beat us, This is massive. I’m very grateful for the trust everyone has shown in me,” said the 5lb claimer who is based with Philip Hobbs.


Ben Jones Ben Jones Nicola McGeadyNicola McGeadyFootnotes:  the day before the Ladbrokes Winter Carnival began at Newbury Racecourse, Ben Jones won the Rising Star category at the Welsh Racing Awards.  He has certainly put the seal on that!  At Newbury Racecourse's preview event - held to support the Injured Jockeys Fund - Ladbrokes' Nicola McGeady strongly tipped De Rasher Counter to win the Ladbrokes Trophy.  An expert to listen to!




Consolation prize for Skelton

Bennys King, who missed the cut by one for the £250,000 Ladbrokes Trophy, secured a consolation prize when scooping the £25,000 first prize in winning the Sir Peter O’Sullevan Memorial Handicap Chase.

Bennys King with Harry Skelton (Photo: Newbury Racecourse)Bennys King with Harry Skelton (Photo: Newbury Racecourse)

“We were a bit disappointed to not get in the Trophy,” said winning trainer Dan Skelton. “You never know what would have happened, but he was in a race we wanted to be in and he’s won. Winning on big days is very important.”


Whizzbang shock

Paul Nicholls was forced to revise his opinion of Danny Whizzbang after seeing him inflict a surprise defeat of the odds-on Reserve Tank on his chasing debut in the Grade 2 Ladbrokes John Francome Novices’ Chase.

Danny Whizzbang and Harry Cobden (Photo: Newbury Racecourse)Danny Whizzbang and Harry Cobden (Photo: Newbury Racecourse)

The outsider of three runners, a winner of two novice hurdles last term, was delivered between the last two fences to register a four length win in a race won in the last four years by Santini, Elegant Escape, Thistlecrack and Native River. He is now 16-1 with Ladbrokes for the RSA Chase.

“I knew I was chucking him in the deep end,” said Nicholls, who ended the day with a double when Magic Saint won the Ladbrokes Handicap Chase for the Jim Joel Trophy.

Treble top

While things did not quite go to plan at Newcastle, where Buveur D’Air was beaten in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle, for Nicky Henderson, the Lambourn trainer bagged a treble at Newbury which he completed when Epatante led home a stable one-two-three in the Gerry Feilden Hurdle.

Epatante and Aidan Coleman (nearest camera) (Photo: Newbury Racecourse) Epatante and Aidan Coleman (nearest camera) (Photo: Newbury Racecourse)

Epatante proved six lengths too good for French Crusader and Elusive Belle, adding to the earlier victories of Floressa in the Listed Ladbrokes ‘Where The Nation Plays’ Mares’ Novices Hurdle and The Cashel Man in the Get Your Ladbrokes £1 Free Bet Today Handicap Hurdle.


After just three days of jumps racing at Newbury, Henderson has already sent out eight winners: “Epatante was impressive.  The second horse French Crusader is no mug and I actually fancied the third Elusive Belle.”  The trainer said Floressa would have a break with the Mare’s Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham as her long term target.

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