Ahead of its 63rd running on Saturday, this is our 2019 Ladbrokes Trophy stats guide for the race formerly known as the Hennessy Gold Cup.
OK Corral is currently ante post favourite with bookmakers to provide trainer Nicky Henderson with a fourth winner of the prestigious Grade 3 handicap chase run over 3m 2f at Newbury.
This race has an illustrious roll of honour, including nine that have gone on to land the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
The last of those was the Colin Tizzard trained Native River, who landed the Ladbrokes Trophy spoils in 2016 before going on to capture chasing’s blue riband contest two years later.
Here’s our detailed guide to the leading trends for the valuable contest:
Ladbrokes Trophy stats guide: The right age
Young, up-and-coming chasers who were novices the previous season have fared best. Only two Ladbrokes Trophy winners in the last two decades have not been in the six-to-eight year-old range.
They were the mighty Denman when landing the spoils for the second time in 2009 aged nine and last year’s 10-year-old scorer Sizing Tennessee.
The latter also broke another stat becoming the first winner since Diamond Edge in 1981 to win aged in double figures. Prior to that you have to go way back to Rondetto in 1967, who won aged 11.
Seven-year-olds have won eight of the last 18 renewals. Among this year’s contenders are the well-backed Cabaret Queen and last year’s second and third home – Elegant Escape and Dingo Dollar.
What can the betting tell us?
For such an ultra-competitive race, it’s somewhat surprising that those at the head of the market have dominated.
Of the last 34 Ladbrokes Trophy renewals, 27 winners were sent off among the first four in the betting.
That’s a plus at present for OK Corral, Cabaret Queen, Mister Malarky and On The Blind Side.
How about ratings?
Class acts have ruled in recent times with the last 14 winners holding an official rating of 145 or higher going into the race.
Nine of which carried a minimum of 11st 3lb, while the top weight or joint top weight has placed seven times in the last 13 years.
Elegant Escape is set to shoulder the welter burden of 11st 12lb in this year’s renewal.
It’s also very interesting that 14 of last 19 winners had registered a victory over fences in graded company or Listed level.
Horses that fit all of these criteria include the aforementioned Elegant Escape and OK Corral.
Mister Malarky fails by just a pound to meet the 11st 3lb weight carrying threshold identified by our Ladbrokes Trophy stats guide.
The top trainers
Seven Barrows handler Henderson has won the race three times. Among his possible contenders this time around are the heavily backed ante post favourite OK Corral and On The Blind Side.
The latter is a top class hurdler who has only had four starts over fences and shaped well when fourth on seasonal reappearance at Ascot.
British champion trainer Paul Nicholls has also saddled three Ladbrokes Trophy winners, including Denman in 2007 and 2009.
New recruit Yala Enki is set to be the Ditcheat handler’s sole representative this time round.
Sizing Tennessee gave Colin Tizzard a second winner in the race 12 months ago, in which stable companion Elegant Escape finished runner-up.
The stable’s record in the last six years is now two wins, two seconds and a third. Mister Malarky, Elegant Escape, West Approach and Robinsfirth are the four Tizzard trained entries at the five-day declaration stage.
What are useful trial races?
The RSA Chase at the Cheltenham Festival has been a key trial. Trabolgan (2005), Denman (2007) and Bob’s Worth (2012) all won the race before going on to Ladbrokes Trophy glory.
The 2008, 2009, 2017 and 2018 runners-up also contested the RSA Chase the previous spring. Only two who ran in this year’s renewal of the RSA are set to take their chance.
They are Mister Malarky, who finished a fine staying on fourth behind Santini, and On The Blind Side who was never travelling at any stage and pulled-up after jumping the 12th fence.
The Mullins factor
Champion Irish trainer Willie Mullins is the man the bookies fear when it comes to big valuable handicaps like the Ladbrokes Trophy.
He saddled Total Recall to land a monster gamble in the race in 2017 when sent off joint-favourite. Mullins has a runner with a similar profile this time around in Cabaret Queen.
The seven-year-old mare produced a dominant, front-running performance when registering a facile 13-length success in the Muster National at Limerick seven weeks ago.
That was just her second start for the Closutton handler after being bought out of Dan Skelton’s stable for just £13,000 at the sales.
Mullins also won the race in 2002 with Be My Royal – but the horse was disqualified months later due to an illegal substance found in his sample.
He could also be represented by enigmatic dual Cheltenham Festival Grade 1 winner Yorkhill, who has become well-treated, but has somewhat developed a mind of his own.