SOME of racing’s brightest stars have lifted the Ladbrokes Trophy (3.00pm).
Arkle, One Man and Denman have all had their names etched on to the roll of honour of Newbury’s greatest race.
Dorset trainer Colin Tizzard has won this prize twice in the last three years with subsequent Gold Cup hero Native River and Sizing Tennessee 12 months ago.
He looks to have a cracking chance of adding a third trophy to his sideboard with WEST APPROACH at 14/1 with Coral.
The Cheltenham race he finished second to THE CONDITIONAL in last month holds the key to solving this tricky puzzle.
With a maximum field of 24 runners set to go to post for this historic contest it is going to be a severe test of stamina.
West Approach has always stayed well so the demands of the 3m2f trip should be right up his street.
He probably hit the front a bit soon when runner-up behind The Conditional at Cheltenham in October and that comeback run certainly put the edge on him.
He was given a superb waiting ride by Robbie Power when successful over 3m3f on his return to Cheltenham two weeks ago.
Power, known as Puppy in the weighing room, is fast becoming the top dog in these staying chases.
His timing was superb on West Approach – officially four pounds well in today – last time out and he will be able to sit and wait off what is likely to be a strong pace.
The Conditional is also due to go up a couple of pounds for future races.
There was a whole lot to like about his Cheltenham defeat of West Approach on just his second start after joining David Bridgwater from Ireland.
The ground was really testing that day and he saw out the 3m1f distance incredibly well.
His low weight is a help and, as a seven-year-old, he is open to all sorts of improvement. Take the 22/1 with the sponsors.
Ok Corral has been fancied for this big shootout ever since the betting opened. He transferred his smart novice hurdle form to fences last season with small-field wins at Plumpton and Warwick.
Nicky Henderson’s hope was made second favourite for the four mile National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham Festival but, given he bombed in what was a brutal test of stamina, there is no guarantee he will handle the demands of this race.
Cabaret Queen is already one of the bargain buys of the season. She was snapped up for £13,000 when Willie Mullins bought this ex-Dan Skelton mare at the spring sales.
The owners didn’t have to wait long for a decent dividend as she won the Munster National over three miles at Limerick last month.
That was only her second race for Mullins, so she could easily continue to progress, but she has never looked one to be screaming for a return to today’s longer distance.
Earlier on the card, FANFAN DU SEUIL is worth supporting in the Ladbrokes ‘Where The Nation Plays’ Intermediate Hurdle (2.25pm) at around the 14/1 mark.
He finished fifth in the Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle at last season’s Cheltenham Festival when he raced wide for much of the race.
The Grade One four-year-old hurdle at Aintree’s Grand National meeting proved all too much on his next start where he finished a well-beaten seventh behind Champion Hurdle hope Pentland Hills.
You can forgive him there as that clearly wasn’t his true running and he has started this season with a nice handicap mark.
Tom George’s runner was far from disgraced on his comeback run at Ayr where he travelled really well before the heavy ground took its toll in the closing stages.
That run should have put him spot on for this and he looks a nice each-way bet in an open looking contest.
Fanfan Du Seuil e/w 2.25pm Newbury
West Approach e/w 3.00pm Newbury
The Conditional e/w 3.00pm Newbury