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Ladbrokes Trophy: Henry De Bromhead lines up Eklat De Rire and Chris’s Dream for Ladbrokes Winter Carnival at Newbury

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Henry De Bromhead will attempt to add the £250,000 Ladbrokes Trophy to an astonishing sequence of 2021 big race successes after confirming both Eklat De Rire and Chris’s Dream for the showpiece race of the Ladbrokes Winter Carnival.

Eklat De Rire and Chris’s Dream feature among 22 five-day confirmations, including five from Ireland, for the historic handicap chase at Newbury on Saturday, which also features last year’s winner Cloth Cap and the 9-2 sponsor’s favourite Ontheropes.

De Bromhead’s annus mirabilis includes victories in the Champion Hurdle, Queen Mother Champion Chase, Cheltenham Gold Cup, Grand National and last weekend’s Betfair Chase.

The Ladbrokes Winter Carnival
The Ladbrokes Winter Carnival

“It’s incredible to have the horses we have at the moment,” the trainer said. “When you list those races they are races I’d have dreamt of winning. It’s unreal, incredible to be honest.”

De Bromhead, based in Co Waterford, has never saddled a runner in the Ladbrokes Trophy, a race in which Total Recall’s triumph in 2017 was the first by an Irish challenger since Bright Highway in 1980.

Rachel Blackmore will be expected to ride the stable first string.

Eklat De Rire has only run six times under rules, winning four, and at the Cheltenham Festival in March unseated Blackmore at the 12th fence of the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase for which he started second favourite.

De Bromhead said: “It was probably a bit early to gauge what he could have done at Cheltenham but he seemed to be going well.

“Rachel was happy with him and it was just unfortunate,” he said. “He has good form and he won well the other day at Wexford.

“He’s a really nice staying chaser so fingers-crossed we get him there and he will give a good account of himself.”

He continued: “In the spring Peter Davies, who owns Eklat De Rire, mentioned the Ladbrokes Trophy.

“He is based over there so he would love to see him run in it. It suited him so we said we would certainly aim towards it. Second season novices seem to have a good record in the race and hopefully he fits that profile.

“He had two 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 is a horse we have high hopes for.”

Chris’s Dream, a Grade 2 winner over fences, failed to add to his score last season but was well in touch in the Grand National in April until blundering away his jockey four out.

“He was going really well at Aintree,” said De Bromhead. “He is a very good horse as well. He probably really appreciates a good dig in the ground.”

Total Recall recorded a first Ladbrokes Trophy win for Willie Mullins who intends to saddle three runners this time, Ontheropes. Brahma Bull and Annamix.

Among other horses to stand their ground are Potterman, Kitty’s Light and Enrilo, the one-two-three from the bet365 Gold Cup, and Fiddlerontheroof, one of three that could represent the stable of Colin Tizzard, successful twice in the last five years.

The going at Newbury is good to soft, having been watered during a dry spell which is expected to continue until midweek.

Giving an update, Newbury clerk of the course Keith Ottesen said: “For the past few weeks we have been able to maintain the ground on the easier side of good. We now have really good to soft ground.

“We are going to finish off a bit of watering today and then the forecast for the week is generally dry until a weak front comes in Wednesday night with 1-2mm of rain.

We could catch a shower on Thursday and on Friday there is a band of rain passing through when we should get 2-5mm followed by some blustery showers.

“Saturday is a bit uncertain but there is another band of rain coming through.

“It wouldn’t take much rain to change the ground as it is properly good to soft and I don’t see it drying out, so it should be fair for everybody.”

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