THESE are big weekends for Henry de Bromhead. Before last Saturday, he had never had a runner at Haydock, then he took A Plus Tard over for the Betfair Chase there, and the Cheveley Park Stud’s horse put up a performance that took him to the top of the Cheltenham Gold Cup market.
That was three hours after Bob Olinger had got off the mark on his chasing bow at Gowran Park.
Rewind through earlier weekends in the season: Notebook winning the Fortria Chase, the trainer’s first Fortria Chase. Really. Captain Guinness winning at Naas. Envoi Allen winning at Down Royal. Eklat De Rire winning at Wexford.
Big day tomorrow too, but that goes without saying. Any day that Honeysuckle runs is a big day. And today, at Fairyhouse and at Newbury, Mr Incredible in the Grade 2 Ladbrokes John Francome Novice Chase, and we’re back to Eklat De Rire again.
Peter Davies’ horse has a big chance of winning the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury today. He has all the attributes: he jumps, he travels, he stays, he has a touch of class, and he could be at least a little way ahead of the handicapper.
He didn’t have a lot of racing last season, but he jumped well in winning his beginners’ chase at Punchestown in December, and he stayed on well to beat subsequent National Hunt Chase third Escaria Ten in a Grade 3 chase at the end of January.
Thought good enough to contest the Brown Advisory Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March, he was travelling and jumping well behind Monkfish until he stumbled on landing over the first fence down the back straight, and unseated his rider.
He didn’t run again after that last season, but he put up a nice performance in winning at Wexford on his debut this term. That is the race that his stable companion, last season’s Gold Cup winner Minella Indo won on his debut last season, a first step into the season, and there is every reason to expect that Eklat De Rire will come on for that run.
More than fair
The Irish handicapper left him on his mark of 152 after that, and the British handicapper has given him just 2lb more, which is more than fair.
He is only seven and he has raced just four times over fences, he has the potential to go a fair way beyond the rating of 154 off which he races today.
His trainer’s horses continue to be in tremendous form, and he will have Rachael Blackmore for company. As well as that, he should relish the test that an extended three and a quarter miles at Newbury presents. If the forecast rain arrives now, that would be a nice bonus.
Compatriot Ontheropes has a really good Ladbrokes Trophy profile too. Another second-season chaser, a seven-year-old who has run just six times over fences, Willie Mullins’ horse also has bags of scope for progression.
Second behind his stable companion Monkfish in a beginners’ chase at Fairyhouse last November, beaten just four lengths, on his only run last season, he was good in winning the Munster National at Limerick on his only run since, off a mark of 141.
He has to race off a 12lb higher mark today, but his erstwhile stable companion Total Recall won the Munster National in 2017 and followed up in the Ladbrokes Trophy off an 18lb higher mark. It can be done.
Fiddlerontheroof could do best of the home contingent. A high-class staying novice chaser last season, second behind Monkfish in the Brown Advisory Chase, Colin Tizzard’s horse stayed on well to win the Colin Parker Memorial Intermediate Chase at Carlisle on his debut this season over two and a half miles.
A 2lb hike for that takes him up to a mark of 150, which is still 2lb lower than his peak over hurdles, and he should appreciate the step back up in trip.
Kitty’s Light and The Hollow Ginge could both out-run their respective odds, but Eklat De Rire could be the answer.
Spiritofthegames could be the answer to the Betfair Exchange Rehearsal Chase at Newcastle, now that he is stepping back up to almost three miles.
Dan Skelton’s horse has finished second in a Pady Power Gold Cup and in a December Gold Cup at Cheltenham over two and a half miles, but his run in this year’s renewal of the former two weeks ago suggested that he would benefit from a step back up in trip.
Outpaced at the top of the hill that day, he stayed on strongly over the last two fences and up the hill to get to within seven lengths of the winner, Midnight Shadow.
He ran really well on his final start last season, when he finished third to Happygolucky in a good three-mile handicap chase at Aintree in April, and he should appreciate a return to that trip today over fences.
The handicapper dropped him by 3lb for his Paddy Power Gold Cup run to a mark of 141.
That is 9lb lower than his peak, and that gives him a real chance.
Eklat De Rire, 1 point each-way, 3.00 Newbury, 9/2 (generally)
Spiritofthegames, 1 point win, 2.05 Newcastle, 6/1 (generally)