Superb racing at Newbury today and our focus is on the Ladbrokes Trophy Chase (3.00) where a maximum field of 24 line up unlike last year where only twelve faced the starter after very heavy rain.
As we might expect in a fiercely competitive handicap like this there are many with genuine and realistic prospects of glory. And one I hesitate to leave out is 50/1 shot Regal Encore even if realistically he has a chance of making the frame but not the Winners Enclosure.
We side with two young horses who are potentially still on the upgrade and ahead of the handicapper which is almost essential in this race formerly known as "The Hennessy". The two I like are ON THE BLIND SIDE and BORICE.
On The Blind Side has youth on his side as a lightly raced seven year old with plenty of scope for further improvement. He ran no sort of race in the RSA won by Topofthegame at the Cheltenham Festival. Possibly the sticky ground was an issue and of course there are so many fine horses that for whatever reason totally fluff their lines at the Festival. However his run before that is a real signpost to his chances here where he beat a very decent yardstick in Talkischeap over three miles at Kempton. Even in receipt of 6 lbs. that was a smart effort, with Bob Mahler a distant third. And of course Talkischeap then went on to win the Bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown.
On The Blind Side was a real eye catcher on his seasonal debut in a hot looking handicap at Ascot when fourth to Vindication with Regal Encore second. He jumped well that day but travelled the scenic route with Nico de Boinville steering a particularly wide course around Swinley Bottom. The handicapper has left him on 149 which will please Nicky Henderson no end, and with the stable in hot form right now and this flat track likely to suit he ticks a lot of boxes nor have I any stamina doubts after Ascot where he finished very well.
Borice surprised a few by winning the Galway Plate for Gordon Elliott where he finished particularly strongly to win going away with Elliott saying he's prefer a longer trip which bodes well for today. That race at the famous week long Western festival was often looked on as a kind of summer lottery, but since Willie Mullins, Elliott and all the leading Irish yards started chasing the big summer prizemoney the Plate has become a serious contest won by quality horses like Carlingford Lough and Road To Riches. An 11 lbs. hike for that win is fair, and Elliott is a master at targeting big handicaps and we can be sure this race has been on the agenda since.
When Borice arrived from France he looked average enough in two top staying chases. but Elliott worked his magic by sweetening him up winning over hurdles at Perth and Uttoxeter and then he struck gold back over fences in "The Plate". From the last day in July to the last day in November is a long time between drinks, but make no mistake ace trainer Elliott will have him fully locked and loaded today. De Rasher Counter - who worked really well with yesterday's winner Paisley Park recently - has been well supported during the week, and Paul Townend skips Fairyhouse to ride Cabaret Queen for Willie Mullins. And while that mare is up a whopping 22 lbs. in the ratings since her facile Munster National win at Limerick, she would not be competing here unless Mullins thought her well capable of dealing with that hike. There have been mixed reports about OK Corral but no question that on his day he's mighty fast on the draw. In any event On The Blind Side and Borice should give us a fighting chance of hitting the jackpot.

Newbury - 3:00

1/2 Point EACH WAY On The Blind Side (10/1 generally, look for bookies paying 6 places)

1/2 Point EACH WAY Borice (16/1 Betvictor & Bet365, both paying 5 places)


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