Goodwood Mirage The Real Deal For Ladbroke
There has already been plenty of activity in the market surrounding Saturday’s big handicap at Ascot, namely the Ladbroke (3.30) – a highly valuable handicap hurdle over 2m.
As things stand, it could well be Harry Fry’s “talking horse”, Activial, who starts as the 9/2 favourite come race time, a price that was earned via a Grade 2 win last February. While this 4yo is unexposed and open to a tack of improvement on his reappearance, it’s worth noting this race has proven a graveyard for favourite backers down the years…
Of the 9 Ladbroke winners…
9 were officially rated 127-144
8 raced 0-2 times during last 90 days
8 were 5-7yo’s
8 were non-favourites
8 had 5-10 hurdle runs (9%) – others were 1-88 (1%)
8 won 2-3 hurdles (7%) – others were 1-64 (1%)
8 made the top three last time
7 won during last three runs
N Henderson won it twice
The fact only one 4yo from 38 runners triumphed in the first nine years of this race must also be a concern for Activial’s supporters, as it might for fellow 4yo’s, Sea Beat, Jebril, Baradari, Ballyglasheen, Pyromaniac and Goodwood Mirage.
The last-named pair are trained respectively by Tony Martin and Jonjo O’Neill, and need respecting, with Goodwood Mirage a 2m handicap winner when last seen in October. He looks to have been targeted for this race and the forecast drying ground will suit.
But, what of the older runners, who have shown a better record in The Ladbroke? those at the head of the weights haven’t fared too bad in this race, which offers encouragement to Philip Hobbs’ Garde La Victoire (8/1) off top-weight of 11st12lb. This 5yo also won last time out when scooping the Grade 3 Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham (2m, soft) last month when carrying 11st9lb, so handles big weights, along with faster ground (dual winner on good last spring).
Another last time out winner is Dan Skelton’s 5yo Shelford (8/1), who won both starts this season over 2m4f at Chepstow (soft), and while his star is rising, the step back to 2m on faster ground this weekend has to be a slight worry.
Punters need to take notice when the Pipe yard send a runner that has been absent for a large pot like this, and the 7yo, Balgarry (10/1), has such a profile. He won two of his four career outings to date, including a 2m handicap on good to soft in 2012, and this first race in over 1,000 days may not be the negative it is for other yards.
Also worth a mention is Willie Mullins’ Clondaw Warrior (8/1), who has been allocated a very low weight and showed when beaten only 2l by Garde La Victoire at Cheltenham last month that he has the ability in a race like this. He will also be 6lb better off with the winner if they both run on Saturday.
A cracking renewal of this mouth-watering handicap awaits, and one in which Goodwood Mirage looks to have been put aside for this prize since winning with a bit in hand a few months ago. The ground will be perfect and a big run is expected.