RSA Chase third Elegant Escape is favourite in Saturday's Ladbrokes Trophy betting, but an old rival who bettered him is priced at better odds for the £250,000 handicap chase.
Elegant Escape is bidding to give trainer Colin Tizzard a second win in the Newbury chase, his mighty Gold Cup winner Native River having won in 2016. There are many ways in which the six-year-old mirrors his illustrious stablemate, and his odds of 6/1 joint-favourite with Black Type are justified.
However, there are horses equal to - and arguably better than - him at bigger prices in the betting for the Ladbrokes Trophy.
Ladbrokes Trophy Trends
With a history 61 years old, trends for the Ladbrokes Trophy are a comprehensive guide to profiling the winner of Newbury's richest chase. The class of winners has improved exponentially in the past 10 years, with Gold Cup winners Denman, Bobs Worth, and Native River among the winners, as well as Grand National hero Many Clouds
The last 10 winners all won or finished 2nd in a Graded chase and had run 2-4 times in the same year. There was only one winner aged older than eight (Denman at nine), and since 1957 only three horses aged older than nine have won.
Handicap ratings is a strong trend for the Ladbrokes Trophy too; 8/10 winners were rated 150 or higher, three top weights scoring (Denman x 2, and Trabolgan), and all winners rated 146 or higher.
There's also weight in the fact that 8/10 winners had not run in the last 28 days, and that the last six winners had won a race in the same year, and 11/15 winners carried 11st or more.
Chiseling with those tools, whittles the field down to four key trends picks, Black Corton and Monbeg Notorious (who needs testing ground) ticking every box, Elegant Escape just falling down on his recent run, and Al Boum Photo raising stamina questions.
Ladbrokes Trophy Favourites
No horse is priced shorter than Elegant Escape, but across the bookies three other horses vye for Ladbrokes Trophy favouritism.
Thomas Patrick (6/1 Paddy Power) is a course-and-distance winner, who returned to action three weeks ago with a close second to Elegant Escape. The plus from that defeat is Elegant Escape now carries 4lbs extra, but even so, the ground doesn't look likely to turn soft enough.
Kemboy (13/2 William Hill) has also got a 4lb penalty for winning this season, and is thus lumped with top weight. Topweights can win, but they need to be Gold Cup winners - Kemboy is not.
Ms Parfois (7/1 Ladbrokes) will not let you down. A huge, galloping mare, she has run 14 races and been out of the first two five times, last season finishing no worse than third in seven runs from 2m5f to 4m in the National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham Festival. She traditionally takes a run to get fit, and prefers softer ground.
>> Bet On Elegant Escape to win at 6/1 with Black Type
One Bet To Have In Ladbrokes Trophy
If the ground did turn soft, Monbeg Notorious is outstanding value at 40/1 with the sponsors, as is Ms Parfois at 7/1. Despite his penalty, Elegant Escape is still nicely weighted, and one to consider for a place is the 10-year-old Rathvinden, who beat Ms Parfois over 4m at Cheltenham.
However, Black Corton (20/1 Betway) is the most solid bet to have in Saturday's Ladbrokes Trophy, and Al Boum Photo (14/1 William Hill), though unreliable, is the sort of class that could win from 11st 11lb.