Saturday sees the annual running of the Badger Ales Trophy at Wincanton. The race is a Class One Listed National Hunt chase run over 3 miles and one and half furlongs with a total of 18 fences. Historically one of the most competitive early season chase races, Saturday’s renewal is no different with 18 horses declared to run.
The race has in recent years been dominated by trainers David Pipe and Paul Nicholls and this year’s ante-post favourite is the Paul Nicholls trained The Ould Lad. Saturday will be The Ould Lad’s first run since moving to the Nicholls yard from trainer Tom George. The Ould Lad won twice over fences last season at Warwick and Leicester before finishing second in a Grade 3 chase at Cheltenham in December. He then struggled the remainder of the season but he goes into Saturday’s race on a competitive mark and if he is fit after his summer break, he could well be the one to beat.
The Tom George trained Forgotten Gold is the current ante-post second favourite and he comes into the race with the benefit of having already run this season. A winning seasonal reappearance at Wincanton at the end of October over 3 miles 2 furlongs was impressive and although facing better rated horses this Saturday, Forgotten Gold should run a decent race.
Another horse who has already run this season is the Rebecca Curtis trained Doing Fine. A winner over 3 miles last season, Doing Fine stayed on strongly over 3 miles at Chepstow last month to indicate that the step up in trip on Saturday could well suit.
Phillip Hobbs has enjoyed an impressive start to the season and he will be represented on Saturday by Bertie Boru. Two early season wins last year at Stratford and Newbury saw his handicap mark increase dramatically and he struggled to reach the frame in his remaining races. This will be Bertie Boru’s first attempt at 3 miles and 2 furlongs, although he did travel well for a long way in last year’s Midlands Grand National indicating that the trip should not be an issue.
Trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies has tow horses entered and his best hope may lie with the six-year old Cogry. A winner of two races last season at Warwick and Chepstow, Cogry then placed sixth in the Toby Balding National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham Festival and was then pulled up in the Scottish Grand National at Ayr. These were both high-class races and it was perhaps too much of an ask for Cogry at that stage of his career. Saturday sees Cogry run on a reduced mark and he could well run a big race after his summer lay-off.
The Ould Lad is the 5 (4/1) ante-post favourite for Saturday’s race with Forgotten Gold 7 (6/1), Doing Fine 10 (9/1) and Bertie Boru and Cogry 15 (14/1). The horse racing tip for Saturday’s Badger Ales Trophy is Cogry each-way at 15 (14/1).
By: Scott McGlynn