Timeform assesses the Ladbrokes Trophy favourite and gives their verdict for Saturday's race at Newbury.
Newbury - Saturday 28th November - 15:00
Focus on the favourite
Vinndication was successful on his first six starts under Rules and he only lost his unbeaten record when coming up against Defi du Seuil and Lostintranslation – two rivals who have since shown top-class form – in the Grade 1 Scilly Isles Novices' Chase at Sandown in February 2019. Vinndication was by no means disgraced in the Scilly Isles, or when finishing fifth in the JLT at the Cheltenham Festival the following month, but he had looked slightly short of pace over two and a half miles so it was no surprise to see him take a step forward and justify strong support when upped to three miles on his return in the Sodexo Gold Cup at Ascot last November.
Vinndication then showed even better form in defeat on his only subsequent start last season in the Ultima Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, finishing a close-up fourth off an 8 lb higher mark, pressing on earlier than the trio who beat him. He wasn't always fluent over his fences at Cheltenham, however, and again failed to impress with his jumping when runner-up in the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby on his reappearance. He still managed to produce what was arguably a career-best effort, in spite of the sloppy jumping, at Wetherby and he has the potential to rate higher if brushing up on his technique over the obstacles. The application of cheekpieces may sharpen his concentration and, given that he remains on a fair mark, it’s no surprise that he is at the head of the market.
An outsider to consider
Secret Investor (12/1)
Secret Investor had undergone a second breathing operation prior to his return at Chepstow last month, and he proved better than ever, posting an authoritative seven-length success. The form of that race has been well advertised since, with the runner-up, Potterman, going close in the Badger Beers and the third, Some Chaos, winning at Kelso, so Secret Investor looks fairly treated after going up only 6 lb. In fact, Secret Investor heads Timeform's weight-adjusted ratings and is still relatively unexposed as a stayer.
Conditions at Newbury are unlikely to be extremely testing, and if that's the case it will play to the advantage of Secret Investor, who is at his most effective on a sound surface. Odds of 12/1 look on the generous side for a talented chaser who arrives in good heart and represents 11-time champion trainer Paul Nicholls.
A stat to note
Colin Tizzard has won two of the last four renewals
Colin Tizzard won the Ladbrokes Trophy in 2016 with Native River and in 2018 with Sizing Tennessee, while his Elegant Escape has finished placed in the last two editions. Tizzard has two representatives this year in Mister Malarky and Copperhead, with the latter holding the stronger claims after progressing so well during his novice campaign last term. Copperhead was an impressive winner over this course and distance last December and followed that up with a wide-margin win in the Grade 2 Reynoldstown Novices' Chase at Ascot, where he showed stamina in abundance to draw clear in extremely testing conditions. Copperhead, like many from the Tizzard yard, disappointed at the Cheltenham Festival, falling at the last in the RSA when tailed off, and he posted a disconcerting effort on his reappearance over hurdles at Wetherby last month, being pulled up after appearing to down tools. That performance leaves him with a big question to answer here, which means others are preferred, but he's not one to readily dismiss for a trainer who has targeted this race with success in the recent past.
This is an intriguing, open renewal of the Ladbrokes Trophy and a good case can be made for plenty, including 6/1 favourite Vinndication and Timeform top-rated Secret Investor. However, the one who makes most appeal is 15/2 shot Aye Right. He fared well over hurdles, winning five times in that sphere, but his physique suggested he was going to come into his own over fences, and he has already shown improved form since being sent chasing. Aye Right produced a career-best effort when third in the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby last time on just his fifth start over fences, and the way he travelled and jumped offers plenty of hope that he has an even bigger effort in his locker. Aye Right was five lengths behind Vinndication at Wetherby but he meets that rival on 7 lb better terms here and can reverse the form.
Timeform weight-adjusted ratings:
- 176 Secret Investor
- 175 Aye Right
- 174 Vinndication
- 173p Two For Gold
- 173 Kildisart
- 173 Potterman