The Ladbroke, a handicap hurdle run over two miles at Ascot, provides National Hunt fans with one last hurrah before the Christmas break (3.30pm, Saturday, Ascot). This year’s renewal looks as competitive as ever, but we have latched onto one that we think could go well at a rewarding price.
With the going at Ascot already soft and more rain forecast, The Ladbroke is likely to be run under testing conditions. The favourite Activial (4/1) only ran three times last season, but recorded his best effort when winning the Adonis Juvenile Hurdle on soft going at Kempton in February.
The son of excellent young National Hunt sire Lord Du Sud is unexposed, but also inexperienced, so may not be one to go overboard about on his return to action after 261 days.
Shelford (6/1) and Balgarry (8/1) should also be suited by underfoot conditions at the Berkshire track. The former lacks experience and has yet to win at shorter than two and a half miles while the latter is a fragile sort who has been off the course for two and a half years. Neither of them makes any great appeal at the odds on offer, though Balgarry’s trainer David Pipe (pictured) has a good record this season of bringing back horses to win from a long break
Clondaw Warrior (8/1) has just a solitary Limerick maiden hurdle win to his name over obstacles but finished third, beaten a couple of lengths, behind Garde La Victoire (11/1) in the Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham last month and reopposes on 2lb better terms. He arrived at Cheltenham fresh from victory in the November Handicap on the Flat at Leopardstown the previous month, so may have his work cut out to beat Philip Hobbs’ charge once again.
A 9lb rise in the weights puts Garde La Victoire on a handicap mark of 153 which, if he were to win, would make him a Champion Hurdle horse. Of course, that is still a possibility but as he is currently top-priced at 50/1 for the Champion Hurdle it seems unlikely.
Having mentioned a few that we don’t fancy, for one reason or another, perhaps it’s time to mention one that we most definitely do. Bayan (12/1), trained in Ireland by Gordon Elliott, has finished third in the Coral Cup at the Cheltenham Festival and second in the Galway Hurdle on his last two starts over hurdles and thoroughly deserves to win a decent prize.
Of course his efforts haven’t escaped the notice of the handicapper, who’s raised him another 5lb since Galway, but he has winning form on soft and heavy going and is still only a five-year-old. He has an absence of three months to overcome but has won after longer breaks in the past and looks decent value at his current odds.
Gordon Elliot has one win from two runners with his hurdlers at Ascot over the last five seasons, having won this race with Cause Of Causes in 2012, so our betting tips advice is to back BAYAN to win at a current best price of 12/1 with Bet365, Betfred, Coral or William Hill.
RESULT UPDATE: Bayan won at 14/1