Alex Hammond racing blog and tips ahead of Ladbrokes Gold Cup at Newbury

Alex Hammond looks ahead to the weekend's racing
Alex Hammond looks ahead to the weekend's racing

Dingo Dollar is high on Alex Hammond's shortlist for the Ladbrokes Trophy this weekend - don't miss her latest racing musings.

Last weekend was pretty sensational – where do you stand now with regards to the King George and the Cheltenham Gold Cup? Is the Jumps Triple Crown on??

It was magnificent, wasn’t it? I was lucky enough to be at Ascot for Sky Sports Racing for the clash of the titans between Altior and Cyrname and whilst I was disappointed to see Altior beaten, I have to eat my words and admit that Cyrname was awesome.

It’s true that Altior probably needed his seasonal reappearance slightly more than Cyrname, but credit to the winner, he was very impressive.

It was going to take a giant performance to end Altior’s 19-race unbeaten run, but the younger horse did it in style. There’s no doubt both horses looked to have hard races, particularly Altior, and it’ll be interesting to see how they come out of it with the King George just a month away.

Did stamina beat Altior? I don’t think so, but the Paul Nicholls-trained winner looks a stronger stayer and whilst Nicky Henderson says he’s not concerned about the duo facing off again, Nicholls holds the aces.

It's worth remembering that Cyrname seemingly prefers to go right-handed, so Kempton will suit, but will Cheltenham be an ideal track for him?

You have to love jumps racing and it’s fans. It was a pleasure to see the Ascot crowd applauding both horses in the paddock beforehand and likewise after the race.

We take these superstar horses to our hearts and it’s warming to see them appreciated.

There's a new kid on the block though and Colin Tizzard has reason to feel pretty smug going into the festive period.

Lostintranslation was one of the best novice chasers around last season and I'll admit that I did take the 16/1 that was on offer for the Gold Cup after his second place to Defi Du Seuil in the JLT at the Cheltenham Festival.

Speaking of smug, I feel pretty pleased with that, especially considering he’s now 4/1 with Sky Bet. It’s worth considering that the Betfair Chase was run over 3m 1 1/2 furlongs this year, so was a thorough stamina test.

As a consequence, I think the Gold Cup is more his race than the King George, but I’m happy to be proved wrong. He’s 5/2 second favourite behind 9/4 fav Cyrname for the King George. Altior is now 7/1 for the Boxing Day contest for those who opt to keep the faith.

Buveur D’Air returns to action this Saturday – which horses are getting you excited in the two-mile hurdle division?

It’s been said amongst racing professionals that this is currently one of the weakest championship divisions.

It’s still early days though and I fully expect it to hot up before the year is over, but if Buveur D’Air wins at Newcastle on Saturday there won’t be too many ripples in the Champion Hurdle market.

Nicky Henderson's eight-year-old has won this race for the past two seasons and once again it’s his trainer’s starting point of choice.

He’s Sky Bet’s 1/3 favourite on Saturday, so it’ll be disappointing if he doesn’t win easily. He’s currently 5/1 co-favourite of three for the Champion Hurdle alongside Klassical Dream and Saldier.

As you know, Saldier beat his better-fancied stablemate in the Morgiana Hurdle this month, which threw a bit of a spanner in the works.

Not that trainer Willie Mullins probably minds, with two leading contenders for the top two-mile hurdle races and we are sure to see progression from both.

They were both smart novice hurdlers and maybe now is time for a changing of the guard come March.

The head of the Champion Hurdle market is dominated by horses trained by Henderson and Mullins and they hold the key at this stage of the season.

Buveur D'Air wins at Punchestown
Buveur D'Air wins at Punchestown

Is this year’s Ladbrokes Trophy up to scratch, and who will emerge on top at Newbury?

Speaking of Mullins and Henderson, there’s about to be a recurring theme in this week’s blog!

The duo both train protagonists for this super-competitive 3m2f handicap chase. However, Tizzard will be aiming to spoil everyone’s party once again this weekend.

It has the potential to be a cracking contest and you can make a case for several of the entries, which is good news if you like to try and find a bit of value.

At this stage Ok Corral is Sky Bet’s 5/1 favourite for Henderson, with the Mullins-trained Cabaret Queen a 7/1 shot with Colin Tizzard responsible for joint third favourite Elegant Escape (9/1) with Henderson’s On The Blind Side also at 9s.

At the risk of tying you in knots, Tizzard also trains leading contenders Mister Malarky and West Approach.

Last year’s runner-up was Elegant Escape with Dingo Dollar finishing in third, Beware The Bear fourth and West Approach fifth.

Of those, Dingo Dollar is starting to look well handicapped, with Alan King’s charge now 2lb lower in the ratings than he was 12 months ago. He should go well again.

I also like Emma Lavelle’s De Rasher Counter, who had the benefit of a recent spin over hurdles at Uttoxeter to put him spot on for this. He is a 10/1 shot with Sky Bet, with Dingo Dollar at 14s.

Yala Enki is one to watch with a possible eye to the Welsh National. He has joined Paul Nicholls from Venetia Williams and is a useful addition to the yard at Ditcheat. He’s 16/1 for Saturday’s race and won’t lack for stamina.

So, I haven’t nailed my colours to the mast, but when declarations are out and the ground conditions become clearer, I’ll shorten my short list. But it's fair to say De Rasher Counter and Dingo Dollar are likely to be high up it.

WATCH: Emma Lavelle on Paisley Park and De Rasher Counter...


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Simon Holt: Fine bet

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