Not a lot of people may know this but the reason on Blue Peter sticky back plastic was used to stick things together when it was clearly sellotape is that Sellotape is a brand name and the BBC are not allowed to place products. When the name of a product becomes a word in its own right the company that sells the product have done something right. In horse racing some race titles become part of everyday language and the prime example is ‘The Hennessy’ aka the Ladbrokes Trophy.
The race’s association with Hennessy ended last year with the 60th renewal which made the deal the longest running commercial sponsorship in British racing. Traditionalists might always refer to the race by its long-standing title but the truth is Hennessy ended the deal and Ladbrokes are now filling the breach. Racing cannot be too fussy with its partners and the Whitbread is now called the bet365 Gold Cup. Willie Mullins has never won the Hennessy but can win the race under its new name with Total Recall, a worthy favourite for the Newbury contest on Saturday.
The Ladbrokes Trophy is a handicap chase run over 3 miles and two and a half furlongs and there are 21 fences to be jumped. It’s basically twice round Newbury and is one of the most significant and sought after staying chases of the season. In fact it is the biggest handicap chase after the Grand National and often a decent trial for the most famous jumps race in the world. Many Clouds is the only horse to have won both races and Bobs Worth was the last of eight horses to win the ‘Hennessy’ and Cheltenham Gold Cup. Native River won the race last year of 11 stone one.
Only three horses have won the race more than once, namely Mandarin, Arkle and Denman who all won it two times. Each of those horses also won the Cheltenham Gold Cup and Coneygree has a chance of emulating them by winning two of the major chases of the season but in different years. The leading jockey and trainer are associated with Mandarin. Nicky Henderson and Paul Nicholls have each trained three winners of the race and Barry Geraghty and Ruby Walsh are the only multiple winning jockeys this century. The last five winners have carried more than 11 stone.
The Hennessy is one of the few major National Hunt races that Mullins has not won. He was guarded about how much he believes his horse is well in at the weights but he doesn’t bring horses to the mainland for the sea air and journey. Total Recall has a great chance of breaking Mullins’ duck and could be a high class graded horse running in a handicap. At 10 stone eight the horse could prove to be a certainty and one of the standout bets of the season. The eight-year-old is relatively unexposed and has something to find on the ratings with several other horses.
Coneygree carries joint top weight with 11 stones 12 pounds and the 2015 Gold Cup winner could be competitive off that weight. Whisper carries four pounds extra due to a penalty which puts him on the same weight but pound for pound is not as good as Coneygree. Braqueur d’Or sneaks in at the bottom of the weights and gives Nicholls a decent chance of a fourth win but Mullins trains the ace in the pack.
Total Recall had his first race for Mullins in the Munster National in October and the trainer was happy with how easily his horse won the race. However, Total Recall got an 18lb hike in the ratings for a seven-length win so he has a tough test of the new mark. Mullins feels there is some improvement to come so he runs the horse in the Ladbrokes Trophy. Handicaps are not an exact science but Total Recall is the horse to back in the race for some that will always be the Hennessy.