Eklat De Rire heads 21 seeking Ladbrokes Trophy gold

Henry de Bromhead will aim to continue his domination of the major National Hunt prizes in Britain when Eklat De Rire lines up in a field of 21 for the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury on Saturday.

Having dominated the last Cheltenham Festival by winning the Champion Hurdle, Champion Chase and saddling the first two home in the Gold Cup, De Bromhead then went on to provide the first two finishers in the Grand National.

Last weekend he proved he has not taken his foot off the gas when A Plus Tard turned the Betfair Chase into a procession and Eklat De Rire has been among the market leaders for one of the feature races of the season since making a winning comeback at Wexford.

Stablemate Chris’s Dream, however, does not make the journey meaning the weights rise by 4lb, leaving Willie Mullins’ Brahma Bull at the top.

Mullins also runs Munster National winner Ontheropes, another leading ante-post fancy and the mount of Sean O’Keeffe, and Annamix (Jack Foley).

Last year’s winner Cloth Cap is back once more, but will find life a bit tougher this time around on his mark of 154.

Cloth Cap led his rivals a merry dance in the race 12 months ago
Cloth Cap led his rivals a merry dance in the race 12 months ago (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Tom Scudamore retains the partnership, in preference to riding Remastered for his boss David Pipe.

“The ground was the deciding factor. David and I had a conversation about it a couple of days ago. I’ve come down on Cloth Cap and we’ll see if I’m right on Saturday,” said Scudamore.

“I was pleased with his run at Cheltenham (first time out). He has to improve for it, but there is no reason why not. It was his first run back off the wind op and he ran very pleasingly. It was only from the second last that we got run out of it. The conditions should suit him better on Saturday.

“I was having a great ride off him in the Grand National until he started making a noise and then the wheels came off very quickly. Hopefully that’s been rectified.”

The in-form Colin Tizzard runs Fiddlerontheroof, successful on his comeback in a strong race at Carlisle and Copperhead, winner of the Reynoldstown Novices’ Chase in 2020 before losing his way completely last season. Mister Malarky is another going for Tizzard.

Potterman (far side) battles with Kitty's Light in the Bet 365 Gold Cup
Potterman (far side) battles with Kitty’s Light in the Bet 365 Gold Cup (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Paul Nicholls is represented by Enrilo, first past the post in the bet365 Gold Cup only to be demoted to third, while the beneficiary of that decision, Alan King’s Potterman, also runs. Stablemate Canelo also lines up.

Kitty’s Light was second in that Sandown race, as well as in the Charlie Hall Chase last time out and will aim to give Christian Williams a first win in the race.

Demachine, Brave Eagle, The Hollow Ginge, Cloudy Glen, Fortescue, Full Back, One More Fleurie and Danny Whizzbang complete the field.

Eklat De Rire has De Bromhead in the hunt for more weekend riches

Eklat De Rire will bid to continue Henry de Bromhead’s domination of the major jumps prizes in Britain this year with victory in the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury on Saturday.

While the County Waterford handler has been a major force at the top level for a number of seasons, the success he has enjoyed in 2021 has been nothing short of remarkable.

The first trainer to win the Champion Hurdle, Champion Chase and the Gold Cup in the same year at Cheltenham in March, De Bromhead then teamed up with Rachael Blackmore to make history in the Grand National the following month.

He made another successful raid when saddling Gold Cup runner-up A Plus Tard to become the first Irish-trained winner of Saturday’s Betfair Chase at Haydock, and even De Bromhead is struggling to comprehend the scale of his achievements.

Henry de Bromhead with A Plus Tard at Haydock
Henry de Bromhead with A Plus Tard at Haydock (Simon Marper/PA)

“It’s incredible to have the horses we have at the moment. When you list those races, they’re races I’d have dreamt of winning – it’s unreal, incredible,” he said.

In Eklat De Rire, De Bromhead houses a leading contender for this weekend’s feature event.

He could be joined by stablemate and top-weight Chris’s Dream, although his participation is less certain due to the likely underfoot conditions.

De Bromhead said: “There’s a bit of concern on the ground, obviously. They’re saying it’s good to soft and I think they’re watering at the moment.

“Both would probably prefer more ease in the ground, but we’ll see. I think there’s a little bit of rain forecast later in the week.

“It seems a great idea for both horses. Chris’s Dream probably really appreciates a good dig in the ground and is also entered in the Becher Chase at Aintree, so we’ll see where we’ll go.

“Although it sounds like it’s going to be lovely ground, he might want it even softer.”

Eklat De Rire won a Grade Three novice chase at Naas last season, before unseating Blackmore in the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham. He made a successful reappearance at Wexford last month.

“In the spring Peter Davies (owner) mentioned the race for Eklat De Rire. He’s based over there, so he’d love to see him run in it and we said we’d certainly aim towards it,” the trainer continued.

“He’s got good form and won well the other day. He’s a really nice staying chaser, so fingers crossed we’ll get him there and he’ll give a good account of himself.

“He had some very good runs over fences last year. He was very impressive in his novice chase at Naas and we thought he was going well at Cheltenham.

“He’s a horse we have high hopes for. How exposed or unexposed he is, I don’t know really. Once you’re up in the 150s, you’d be a brave man to be aiming for much beyond that, in my opinion.

“It seems a suitable race for him to go for, we’re happy with him and looking forward to it.”

De Bromhead’s pair are part of what is likely to be a formidable Irish challenge, with champion trainer Willie Mullins preparing to saddle ante-post favourite Onetheropes, as well as Brahma Bull and Annamix.

Hopes for the home team among 22 confirmations include Colin Tizzard’s Fiddlerontheroof, the Paul Nicholls-trained Enrilo, Christian Williams’ Kitty’s Light and last year’s winner Cloth Cap, trained by Jonjo O’Neill.

Clerk of the course Keith Ottesen expects the ground to be on the “easy side of good” come the weekend.

He said: “It was pretty dry and with the profile of these races there was no point sitting on your hands, so for the past few weeks we’ve been able to maintain ground on the easy side of good.

Fiddlerontheroof after winning at Carlisle
Fiddlerontheroof after winning at Carlisle (Ashley Iveson/PA)

“We’re really good to soft ground at the moment and we’re going to finish off a bit of watering today.

“It’s dry and sunny today and tomorrow it looks like it will be a misty, foggy start and quite cold. Wednesday is also a misty, damp start and then there’s a front coming in on Wednesday night with one to two millimetres of rain.

“On Thursday we could catch a chance of a shower, but on Friday it starts off cold again and then there’s a band of rain passing through from mid-morning and throughout racing and we should get two to five millimetres followed by some blustery showers.

“Saturday is a bit uncertain, but there’s another band of rain coming through, and it wouldn’t take much rain to put it the other way as the ground is properly good to soft and I don’t see it drying out. There’s no ground concerns in terms of it getting quick – it should be fair for everybody.”

Eklat De Rire provides Blackmore with comeback victory

Eklat De Rire provided Rachael Blackmore with her first winner since returning from injury – with a comfortable success in the BetVictor M.W. Hickey Memorial Chase at Wexford.

It may be asking a fair bit for Eklat De Rire to emulate his Henry de Bromhead-trained stablemate Minello Indo – who took the corresponding event 12 months ago before going on to win the Gold Cup at Cheltenham – but he still confirmed himself a very promising type.

Having just his sixth start under Rules in this Listed event, the seven-year-old was a Grade Three winner as a novice but had not been seen since unseating Blackmore at the Cheltenham Festival.

Eklat De Rire (10-11 favourite) put in some prodigious leaps on the way round, but the same could not be said of runner-up Conflated.

Blackmore decided they were not going fast enough on the second circuit and took up the running, extending her advantage turning into the straight.

While getting tired after the last, Eklat De Rire still won by four and a half lengths.

Paddy Power left Eklat De Rire unchanged at 33-1 for the Gold Cup in March.

“It’s great to be back and it’s lovely to ride a winner on that horse,” said Blackmore.

“He is a really, really nice horse – and I think he is going to have a big future.

“I was disappointed with myself after what happened with him in Cheltenham, so it was nice to get him back on track today.”

De Bromhead said: “I’m happy with that – he is a grand horse. We were a bit unlucky at Cheltenham – how he would have fared, who knows.

“I’m delighted for Peter Davies (owner) – he is a great supporter of ours, and it’s nice to win this race. Today was to get him started and try to get him some confidence back.

“We have entered him in the race at Newbury, the Ladbrokes Trophy – we just entered him in that this morning. He could possibly go for that, I’m not sure.

“We will take it one day at a time with him. Rachael said he was pretty straight today and we had him ready for it.”

Mick Mulvanny’s In From The Cold (9-2) earlier showed his versatility, and strong constitution, when winning the BetVictor Maiden Hurdle.

A winner on the Flat over a mile on Saturday, he found himself up against Gordon Elliott’s promising Level Neverending over two miles in heavy ground – but stayed on strongly under Sean Flanagan to win by a neck.

“I think a lot of this horse. He came out of the race on Saturday well – and he is a good, tough horse,” said Mulvanny.

“We are hoping that he will turn into a top novice. He is rated well into the 90s on the Flat and has been running in Listed and Group races all year.

“We are hoping that he will keep improving. We will see what is available for him now, and probably give him another race or two before Christmas, then we will give him a break and see where we are going.

“He handles most ground and won on good at Leopardstown on Saturday.”