Raya Star heads Ladbroke weights
Last year's winner Raya Star heads the weights for The Ladbroke at Ascot on December 22.
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He heads the handicap on 11st 12lb for the two-mile contest along with recent Listed Sandown scorer Petit Robin, who is one of six entries for Nicky Henderson.
Henderson is also responsible for 8/1 co-favourite Lyvius (10st 6lb), who sailed to a comfortable success in the Listed Gerry Feilden Hurdle at Newbury on November 29, while King could also saddle fellow 8/1 co-favourite Balder Succes (11st 4lb), an impressive winner at Haydock on November 24.
The third 8/1 co-favourite with the sponsors is Hisaabaat, one of 11 Irish-trained entries. The Dermot Weld-trained four-year-old is a dual Grade One winner in Ireland.
Claret Cloak, trained by Emma Lavelle, made an encouraging return to action when coming home third to Raya Star in a Listed handicap hurdle over two miles at Ascot on November 3.
The lightly-raced five-year-old, who has been allotted 10st 7lb and is a 14/1 chance, ended last season with an impressive 12-length success at Sandown in February and a decisive two and a half length victory at Newbury in March.
Lavelle said: "The Ladbroke is definitely the target for Claret Cloak but the ground is the crucial thing with him and we are hoping it stays dry.
"He has been in great form since Ascot and seems in really good condition. I was chuffed to bits with his first run and he has definitely come on a little bit.
"There is no doubt that the better the ground, the better he will perform so if we got good ground at Ascot we would be delighted.
"I think they will go a furious pace in The Ladbroke and that will suit him because he has a very high cruising speed. I think 136 is a workable mark as he's only a baby and is still improving physically - I think he is getting better."
Other leading contenders for The Ladbroke include the Tom George-trained Olofi (11st 1lb), successful in the Grade Three Racing Post Hurdle at Cheltenham last month when he proved two and a half lengths too strong for Cash And Go (11st 2lb), another of Nicky Henderson's entries, with Cause Of Causes (10st 13lb), trained by Gordon Elliott, in third and Bothy (10st 13lb) fourth.
David Pipe is responsible for six entries including the 12/1 chance Swing Bowler (9st 8lb), who was unbeaten in four outings last season and is out of the star racemare Lady Cricket.
The entries for The Ladbroke this year saw increased representation from Ireland following a concerted effort by both Ascot and Ladbrokes.
In addition to Hisaabaat and Cause Of Causes, the 11 Irish-trained entries also include Princeton Plains (10st 10lb), who has shown very useful form both over hurdles and on the Flat for trainer Eddie Harty, the Willie Mullins-trained Rattan (10st 13lb), a staying-on sixth behind Olofi at Cheltenham and King Of Queens (10st 4lb), who is trained by Mullins' brother Tom and has won both his starts this season following a three-year spell on the sidelines.